Thank you to all of you who sent get well wishes to our little girly. She is still pretty sick and at times miserable, but thankfully we didn't have to take her in to the hospital. The croup part seems to have passed now. And although I hate seeing my kids sick, I definitely don't mind the extra cuddles. Thankfully the rest of us have stayed healthy.
edited to add: Check out my homeschool blog for more photos of Christmas fun and hopefully a Christmas tradition in the making.
We have spent the last couple days getting ready to leave to go to my Mom's for Christmas. Mainly that has meant wrapping presents, cleaning and decluttering the house, and fitting in as many of our Christmas traditions that we have to do here at home. Two nights ago we bundled up all the kids, got some hot chocolate and went to the Festival of Lights down in the Park. Every year a number of organizations set up gorgeous light displays in the park and at night you can drive through the magical, Christmassy land, immersed in the glittering displays. The Festival of Lights raises money for the Hot Lunch program in schools and collects food for the Food Bank. This year was the most fun we have had there, because of our little one's enthusiastic reactions! All of the kids favourite set-up is one of the simplest. A squirrel running through the forest. They have a series of about 20 squirrels in sequential poses so that as each one lights up, it looks like he is darting through trees and over picnic benches. No matter what other amazing sights the children see, the squirrels always get the best reaction!
Here is a terrible photo I tried to take from the car.
Last night we bundled up again and headed to Candy Cane Lane. This is a street in the west end where all the houses decorate for Christmas, it is like the Griswold's gone wild! Some of the houses have beautiful painted displays as well as lights. I think my favourite is one with an Arctic scene complete with Northern lights, polar bears, seals, and inexplicably, penguins. We were going to walk the street and fully take in the displays, but it was quite late and we had 2 grumpy toddlers so we decided to drive. (Therefore I have no photos) Everyone brings donations to the food bank and you can take a horse drawn carriage on some nights. The kids begged to do that, but there were no horses last night.
About halfway through there was a house with an elaborate snowman display, the man who lives there even did up his front room and had that lit up for people to look at. He is an artist and was selling a calendar of snowmen illustrations to raise money for a cause he supports. At the very end of the street is one of my favourite houses. From the time Dh and I were dating they would decorate every inch of their home inside and out. Displays in every window, millions of lights. Last year the house was dark. Dh and I were so sad and wondered what had happened to the people who lived there. I am assuming they sold because the house was dark again this year. :(
On the way home, dh decided to stop at this house we always drive by that really is the Griswold's on steroids. You can not imagine how many lights this home has. It glows like a Christmas beacon to all who pass by. This year the Canadian Diabetes Association had a table set up outside. I guess the woman who lived there and had decorated for the neighbourhood all these years, passed away in September due to complications of her diabetes. Her son bought the house and put up all her decorations again this year, as a tribute to his mother who so loved them. He gave the CDA permission to come and raise funds and collect used clothing at the house and they give out literature with Maizie's story so we can all remember her. Pretty wonderful story. I took a few terrible photos, but you really have to visit it to appreciate it. She has displays in each of the windows, all different scenes, even the basement windows. She has a reindeer corral in the corner of the lot, tons of life size Santas caroling away, an angel looking over all who pass. I had always kind of laughed at the gaudiness as we had drove by, but being there and experiencing the full effect of the intricacies left me in awe and not a little dazzled with the wonder of the holiday.
I would love to hear about some of your favourite Christmas traditions!