We love Christmas in the Pond family -- the whole Christmas season. We begin decorating the house the week prior to Thanksgiving and relish it throughout New Year's. Every year on the Sunday following Thanksgiving, we head over to Mayne's Tree Farm where we embark on the Great Tradition of picking out the Pond Family Christmas Tree. This year's tree (a Douglas Fir) was exceptionally perfect -- 8' tall, full, and completely symmetric. We decorated it with about 800 multicolored lights and 200 ornaments and it was a glorious sight in our front living room window.
Going to Mayne's for our Christmas tree is one of the many annual Christmas traditions we enjoy each year. Here are some others:
- The Kris Kringle Procession in downtown Frederick. This year we were joined by the Lawvers, the Doyles, and the Auths
- Christmas Pageant at church. Every year all the children's Sunday School classes at church put on a Christmas Pageant telling the story of Christ's birth. It's always so wonderfully done with assistance from folks helping with the costumes and sets, to the children who memorize their lines and put in a few hours of rehearsals the day prior. Alaina's preschool class dresses up as either angels or lambs. The past two years she has wanted to be a lamb so we'll see if next year she'll want to be an angel.
- Breakfast with Santa. Every year our church hosts Breakfast with Santa as well as a Secret Santa Shop where the youth take the little children through the shop and they can buy their family members $1 and $2 gifts for Christmas. This year, my gift from Alaina ROCKED. She got me a gold makeup bag filled with brand spankin' new Avon makeup. I WAS SHOCKED! It was awesome! You see, last year she gave me a frog tote bag so I was expecting a similar gift this year.
- Watching "The Nutcracker" at the Weinberg. This was my first year taking Alaina to see "The Nutcracker" at the Weinberg in downtown Frederick and I was thrilled with Mom, Cindy & Lauren decided to join me. We had a wonderful time and are planning to make it an annual tradition.
- Carriage ride in downtown Frederick. This year we celebrated Rob's birthday on December 14th by taking Alaina & Brady on a carriage ride through the Baker Park area of downtown Frederick. It was a chilly night but not overly cold so it was just perfect to look at the beautifully decorated homes surrounding Baker Park.
- Baking cookies!!! Lots and lots of cookies are baked throughout the month of December. Our church holds a "Bake a Batch" fundraiser on the second Saturday of December so I bake a bunch of cookies for that, we bake cookies for our family to enjoy, we bake cookies for Santa, and then finally we bake cookies for my mother's Christmas dinner on the 26th. It's no wonder we gain weight during the holidays!!
- Attending church on Christmas Eve. Every Christmas Eve we attend the Children's Church at 5pm. This is the perfect church service for our family because both Alaina & Brady are so young. The service is only 45 minutes long, features lots of Christmas carols, and an interactive Christmas message. Alaina's choir sings at this service too so it's quite an enjoyable time.
- Birthday Party for Jesus on Christmas Eve. Following the Children's Service is our church's annual Birthday Party for Jesus. Many of the moms & wives bakes cakes and cupcakes for the party and everyone sings "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. It's always lots of fun. After the birthday party is over, everyone wishes we each other a Merry Christmas and then they head home to wait for Santa to come!
Then it arrives... Christmas morning. I always wake up early to do my hair and makeup before I come downstairs to start the monkeybread for breakfast. By the time Alaina wakes up I'm ready and waiting for her. We then go in to get Brady and then the children come downstairs together and Rob & I eagerly anticipate their reaction to what Santa might have left for them under the tree. One word: magic. Christmas is magical. There's really no other word that does it justice.
We always spend Christmas afternoon with my family in Chambersburg. Then last year we began a new traiditon of eating Chinese food on Christmas night. All the other restaurants are closed so we decided to start this tradition last year where we would get Chinese takeout on our way home from Chambersburg (ala "A Christmas Story"). Fra ra ra ra. Ra ra ra ra. It works out really well and Rob & I love our new tradition.
On December 26th we always head back up to Chambersbug for the annual Lucas Family Christmas dinner. This year Chambersbug got about 5-6" of snow so everyone cancelled but we still somehow made it up to Chambersbugr (we brought Zoey and our overnight things because we figured we'd be snowed in). The kids had a good time sledding in my parents' front yard.
Here are some pictures from Christmas 2012: