Today’s Friday Five is a little bit different. It’s not about fitness, running, or triathlon – it’s about life and the celebration of Favorite Holiday Traditions. Well, maybe there’s one thing about running snuck in there…
I’ve been a little behind on my writing about life this week since my evening computer time has been spent either Christmas shopping, getting paperwork ready for my 3-year-old’s first day of preschool, and planning the complicated January calendar. January is when we’ll have one au pair move out and one move in with us from Europe while my husband is away at a conference during all of this, and then I leave the country for 10.5 days. It’s going to be a crazy month.
So although there’s been a shortage of fun fitness recaps and other personal stuff this week, all my kids will have presents from Santa! And that’s really more important, right? Right.
1. Fighting with Christmas lights… I mean decorating the Christmas tree. It’s the age-old mystery: why do I have so many strands of half-working lights? And why do I have so many replacement bulbs that do nothing? And why did I spend so much time on Sunday trying to fix them instead of just throwing them out and buying new ones?
Seriously, it was crazy. Crazy how much time I spent trying to get the lights to work.
But other than that, our tree-decorating tradition is to put on Christmas music, drink hot cocoa, and decorate the tree as a family. Aside from the toddler, whom we put in his bed with a movie so that we could decorate without him destroying our ornaments. Next year, buddy.
2. Jingle Bell Jog. On Saturday, I ran in the local running club’s Jingle Bell Jog and had so much fun it’s my new holiday season tradition! I met up with a bunch of friends at the race, including Colleen from Live Free and Run, Sarah from Athlete Moms, and other friends from Luna Chix and Moms Run This Town. It was fun to dress up in a Santa hat and brave the chilly day on a hilly 8K course.
With Colleen before the race.
My watch was short on distance so my official time says 8:54/mile for the 8K. I loved running in a sparkly skirt and Santa hat and will definitely do this holiday themed run every year!
3. The Christmas Eve gift. Every Christmas Eve after we go to church, my kids can open one present. It’s a specifically-marked gift. And it’s pajamas. And they know it.
I had a childhood friend whose family did this, and I decided to institute it in our household. Mainly because my kids like to wear their dirty clothes to bed, PJs that are too small, or go topless, and I want them clean and cute on Christmas morning for pictures! See, the holiday season is all about tricking them.
The boys on Christmas morning 2013 in their new matching jammies.
4. Christmas morning. Here’s how our Christmas morning goes: the kids get up and open their stockings, which Santa (aka ME) loves to fill! Then they can open their gift from Santa. Then my husband makes us some coffee, I make breakfast, and after breakfast we open the rest of the presents. The kids are so excited on Christmas morning – I love it!
I think kid #3 was awake but over in his high chair at this point. I remember staying up late wrapping presents and getting up super early with the toddler that morning. This year that shouldn’t be a problem, since they all sleep past 7 on a normal day (hooray!).
Later in the day we go to my parents’ house for a big family gathering and gift exchange.
5. Elf on the Shelf. Love him or loathe him? We love this little guy. Got time for a little story?
My daughter has such an amazing memory that whenever someone mentioned Thanksgiving, she said “yay – the day after Thanksgiving is when Magical Mitchell returns!” The kids loved the hide-and-seek game last year and have been looking forward to their Elf’s return all year.
Unfortunately, on the night of Thanksgiving, Magical Mitchell was nowhere to be found. I was sure of where I had hidden the Elf last year – on my closet shelf behind some shirts!
I looked through my closet shelves but didn’t find him.
I went to a movie with my friend, and I realized the theater was right near a Target. And how convenient that stores were open in the middle of the night for Black Friday! I figured if the lines weren’t too long, I’d just get a replacement Elf and the kids would be none the wiser.
As I sat there pondering my options for girl elf or boy elf (since my daughter had wistfully wished for a girl elf that week), I decided the best course of action was to get an exact body double for Magical Mitchell – the kids had named him, after all! They wanted their Elf to return! I grabbed a box that said “I’m a boy!” and checked out of Target.
I returned home with my friend and we were chatting in the kitchen until 2am. I decided I’d better take the Elf out and hide the packaging since it was so late at night.
When I opened the box… he didn’t exactly look like our Elf! He was an African-American Elf!
So there I was at 2:15am with an Elf that was supposed to be a body double, and instead he looked different from our Elf!
I fell on the ground laughing – after all of that trouble, and the late night, should I pretend our Elf was stuck at the North Pole? Tell the kids they get a different Elf every year? Or go back to Target to exchange him? It’s the one day a year stores are open all night – convenient, right?
[Side note: on Facebook people started commenting about the merits of kids having diversity in their dolls. News flash:my kids have dolls and toys of different races, but this was supposed to be a BODY DOUBLE FOR MAGICAL MITCHELL TO TRICK MY KIDS!]
I went upstairs to get my shoes on to go back to Target. I decided to take ONE MORE LOOK in my closet for Magical Mitchell. I figured if I just went crazy looking for 5 minutes, I could save the trip to the store and get to bed.
I tore things off the shelves and made a gigantic mess of the closet. I went by feel instead of sight and felt all around the shelves. Suddenly, my hand touched a shoebox…
Sure enough: I found Magical Mitchell in a part of the closet where I didn’t think I had hidden him!
The kids were none the wiser, and now I have a second Elf, the Elf in the Drawer.
Target returns desk – I’m coming for you!
Phew, so now that you’ve heard my Elf on the Shelf story – what’s your favorite holiday tradition? Do you do a holiday-themed run?