This was the Christmas…

I smiled. A lot. Don’t get me wrong, I smile every Christmas. But it’s also a time of traveling and stress and anything-but-routine which leads to frazzled nerves and shortened patience. This Christmas, though, all that nonsense was minimal. We had fun together and I think we’ve finally figured out how to manage the potential for all things unpleasant.

This was the Christmas…

It dawned on me Colt will never know such #firstworldproblems as having to share the spotlight of Christmas attention and excitement with cousins. He’s the only one (so far!) on my side, and among six total grandkids on the Hood side — the next youngest is 14. So he’s kinda – it. If it’s true that Christmas is all about kids, then around here it’s all about COLT. And he ate it up.

This was the Christmas…

Colt notified me on Christmas Eve he hadn’t “finished [his] shopping.” Hmm. Ok. Aunt Lynn to the rescue! She accepted the challenge and off they went to Walgreens. When they returned they enlisted Courtney’s help and set to work wrapping gifts he’d carefully and thoughtfully selected for each person in our family — golf balls for Pop and Uncle Paige, Razorback stuff for Daddy, a NERF gun for cousin Eric, lip gloss for Mommy and Aunt Lynn, one of these for Aunt Sarah… He reused bags from Ninny’s stash, wrote the tags himself (with spelling help from Courtney), and made a big production out of kicking each of us out of the room so as not to spoil any surprises. What a sweet little Christmas spirit.

This was the Christmas…

We were joined by a monkey wearing chaps. One of the things he’d told Santa he liked was Build-A-Bear, which is true. He has Fireman Joe (a brave, fire-fighting bear) and Hammer (a handy puppy dog) from previous visits the last few Christmases. So – after waiting in line FAR longer than if his parents had taken him – Colt and Mamaw created Harley the leather-clad monkey. This was my first time to tag along on this Colt/Mamaw date tradition so not only was I not prepared for the madness that is Build-A-Bear Workshop, but – you guys – it’s ADORABLE. The picture of him holding Harley’s heart to his chest and making a wish for him – KILLS ME. After Colt made him a sweet little monkey wish, rubbed the little satin heart on his own arms “to give Harley strong muscles” and on his Ninja Turtles shirt “to make sure he likes pizza!” the fantastic lady helping us sewed him up and handed him over — ready for leather.

Note: In the final photo, those are Rudolph slippers. Colt insisted Harley needed Rudolph slippers. “For sleeping only, Mamaw.”

This was the Christmas…

We officially made our day-after-Christmas shopping a tradition. Right? Three years in a row makes it a tradition? Did I make that up? The outlet malls in San Marcos, Texas aren’t far from my parents’ house in San Antonio and it’s a great way to get a little blood flowing after several days of eating, napping, and general laziness. We do a little shopping and a lot of walking — and usually find a few deals too good to pass up.

Outlet Mall Shopping | San Marcos, TX
Uncle Jerry, Sarah, Becky, Laura, Leo {Jeff took the picture – he was there, too!}

This was the Christmas…

Uncle Frank taught Colt that “in Uncle Frank’s house — no rules!” Stinkers. The both of them.

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This was the Christmas…

Colt got back into the shop with Papaw after Dad got him a new “project” to unwrap. They donned their safety goggles like good little worker bees to assemble first a police car kit and then – a few days later – a top as a birthday gift for Leo. Papaw gets the Quick Thinking Award for pulling the “turn a top on the lathe” idea out of his hat with 20 minutes notice before Leo’s birthday party!

This was the Christmas…

We spent time with Aunt Lucille. Lucille is Jeff’s aunt, and she’s 96 years young. She joined us for Christmas festivities and I think we (Colt!) wore her out. He is always so sweet with her, giving her hugs and reminding her she “looks just like Ninny.” Every time we see her he asks me to show him the picture of Aunt Lucille holding him when he was “just a little baby.”

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This was the Christmas…

Tools. Turtles. Tough guys.

This was the Christmas…

We celebrated Leo’s birthday on the Riverwalk and crossed paths with a balloon artist who made Colt an orange/black motorcycle before joining the mariachis at the next table in a VERY impressive performance that SEEMED impromptu but almost couldn’t be. They were amazing. I kicked myself for not filming it, but we were so caught up in the spontaneous fun of it all. The guy was making balloon animals WHILE singing along with the mariachis, y’all.

This was the Christmas…

I managed to land on the same team as Frank when the dinner/gifts made way to board games during Hood Family Christmas. A word of advice: if you’re given the choice, CHOOSE FRANK’S TEAM. We played a heated game of Wits & Wagers, and after coming in a close second in the first game we won it all in Game 2.  Then, during a wild and crazy round of Hedbanz (the spelling of which makes me cringe) at Martin Family Christmas, we all learned a valuable lesson: you absolutely cannot take enough photos of people wearing those things. Hilarious.

This was the Christmas…

Santa got complicated. After panicking that Colt would be expecting a bona fide Christmas miracle, I talked him into Plan B just in time for our visit to the mall. Summoning every last one of my scrappy parenting skills, I convinced him to let his indecisiveness become SANTA’S problem. “You like a lot of things, Buddy. Just tell Santa about a few different things you like, and remind him to talk to Tyler Wilson about the toys and books and shows he’s witnessed you enjoying at home — and let SANTA decide!” Brilliant!

Those photos were taken on different days… Apparently that’s his “go visit Santa” shirt.

The big guy would be finding him in San Antonio, and his “elves” had picked out a mega samurai zord something or other — which Colt LOVED. There was a slight hesitation that morning when he rounded the corner and saw the Power Ranger Megazord waiting for him on the hearth. Apparently there’s a difference between Power Rangers Samurai (which Colt watches on TV and is his “really favorite”) and Power Rangers SUPER Samurai (which he’s never seen or heard of because it doesn’t play on our TV on any of the 4 million channels we have). Santa did not know this. And Santa’s elves had a slight, internal panic attack as they gathered this information… on Christmas morning…  But before we knew it he was jabbering on about his new Megazord and “look, Mommy, the Samurai zords are animals, but THESE zords are trucks. Isn’t that awesome?” Yes, Buddy. Totally awesome.

This was the Christmas…

We roadtripped from Fayetteville to Arkadelphia to San Antonio to Fayetteville, and it really wasn’t too bad. I’m not looking to do it every weekend, but the trip is much more manageable these days than it once was — what a difference a few years make with a kiddo in tow.

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This was the Christmas…

All Martins were together in one place. No wacky school schedules, no seasonal holiday jobs. We were all together. So we took a picture of it.

Martin Family | Christmas 2013
Martin Family | Christmas 2013

And since we were all showered and dressed — we decided to take a few more.

And, of course, I’m equal opportunity when it comes to forcing family members into a group photo. (You’re welcome, Courtney!)

Hood Family | Christmas 2013
Hood Family | Christmas 2013

This was the Christmas…

I was a little hard on myself. I haven’t entirely sorted out the problem, but I think I’ve been operating in a window between Christmas tradition being driven by my parents, and Christmas tradition being driven by ME. Apparently the window is about five years long and exists during the years Colt has been too young to know the difference and we were able to get by with giving it less than 100%.

I let it go when we discovered the only working lights for the tree were red. I didn’t like the way it looked and I told myself I would go buy white lights and make it right. But I didn’t.

I never bought any eggnog and we let weekend scheduling conflicts keep us from making Christmas cookies.

I never listened to any Christmas music and I didn’t wrap any presents until we got to our respective destinations for each family Christmas.

I’ve relied on getting to our parents’ houses — and finding the Christmas spirit THERE. And make no mistake, it’s there alright.  But Colt deserves to feel Christmas HERE. Even if Santa finds him somewhere else.

Next year will be different.

Relax — I’m not committing to some Pinterest-crazed nonsense. Hardly. I just want to be intentional about our Christmases as a family. I want to buy an Advent wreath and go shopping for an Angel together and make cookies with too much icing and have wrapped presents under our tree even if we’re just going to pack them into the car before anyone opens them. I want to use the Christmas dishes I received as a gift five years ago, but have never used because it’s always seemed silly to drag them out for just a few weeks each year.

Brace yourselves, people — maybe we’ll get Christmas jammies.

This was the Christmas…

I got home and sorted through photos — and laughed my head off. Our family is nuts. Don’t believe me? Here, enjoy the “outtakes”.

 

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