It’s Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

While developing a routine for yourself and your children is absolutely critical to being a successful single parent, anything that falls outside of that routine needs to be made into an event, to be lifted up as a spectacle.  Whether it is going to Grandma’s house, the zoo, or the children’s museum, every event needs to be celebrated and made into something uniquely memorable.  Christmas itself is enough to celebrate, but it is important to make all the little things that are a part of Christmas an event themselves.  Here’s to the 3rd Annual Calkins Family Christmas Tree Decoration Event!

I hope the girls know that this is the “before” picture…

I put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving, but let the girls know that I was going to wait for them to get back before we put up the ornaments (they spent Thanksgiving in Texas with their mother).  It gave me plenty of time to get out all the Christmas decorations, hang up the stockings and the wreath, and prep the house for their return.

Wait… why are their stockings bigger than mine?!?

After picking them up in Austin, we planned to put up the ornaments the following day on our first full night back.  The girls were surprised to see a familiar face though as soon as they got in the house.

I am just as confused as you are as to how she got up there…

Scapey, their Elf on the Shelf, is named (by the girls) because she was able to escape all the places that I put her after she would get in trouble for getting in the cereal, climbing on the Christmas tree, etc.

Toys and Disney+ After Dark is a bad combination…

She has already gotten into some crazy shenanigans this season (she stayed up all night watching Disney+ with their stuffed animals last night) and is sure to get into some more trouble before Christmas arrives.

“Lost in the Woods” was the best song in Frozen II… gauntlet thrown down.

Elaina started the decorating with an ornament they picked out only a few hours before, one of Elsa from Frozen II.

“Um, I guess there is a little room here…”

With that, we started alternating who got to pick an ornament and put it on the tree.

In the beginning, there were a lot of ornaments on this side because it was the highest the girls could reach (while standing on the couch).

Gabriella chose a kitten ornament that their mother and I purchased in 2007 when we adopted our first cat, Abigail.  It was a little sad for me, as Abigail, who we had for almost seven years, ran away from our home about six months after Elaina was born.

“Ooh La La!”

It is no secret that I am quite envious of my former in-laws’ Christmas tree.  Every single ornament on their tree is unique and has a story attached to it.  While I feel that I am getting closer every year, I just do not have the years of acquiring ornaments that they do to reach what I consider to be the pinnacle of Christmas tree decorating (with the Eureka Inn’s annual tree always coming in a close second).  For instance, one of the ornaments that I purchased for Elaina this year was that of a Fancy Nancy ballerina.  This is because Fancy Nancy is currently one of her favorite series of books, and it will be nice to remember those nights of reading after she outgrows the series (truth be told, I have some of my Curious George ornaments from my youth on the tree too).

More ornaments in the same spot, even after it is getting crowded.

One of those that meant something was a Barbie mermaid (that lights up!) ornament that Gabriella picked out.  While it probably just looked cool to Gabriella, it reminded me of that period where all they wanted to watch was a movie called Barbie Dolphin Magic, where Barbie and the gang encounter a real mermaid.  Everyone that has kids knows that sometimes they want to watch one thing, and only that one thing, no matter how repetitious it becomes.

And you can be sure we will get the 2021 one when we visit again in two years!

We have an ornament with the year (2019) we went on our family vacation to Walt Disney World.  Everyone that has seen those posts should know exactly how important that vacation was for us.

These poor guys have been standing at attention for a very long time…

We have an ornament that honors the service that our family has made in the military, including myself and their mother (Army), their maternal aunts and uncle (all Army), my father (Air Force), their maternal grandfather (Army), and my grandfathers (Navy).

So far, the cats have only gotten stuck in the tree once!

Elaina picked out a kitten ornament to celebrate the arrival of our new cats.

Pretty sure you can figure out what I wanted for Christmas that year…

And some are older ornaments that we just keep around to embarrass me.  Regardless, I want to have meaning behind everything that we are putting on our tree.

“Yes, Elaina, that was really the size of your first onesie…”

Elaina’s favorite/most memorable ornament was her Baby’s 1st Christmas ornament that she received from my mother.  She loves that this was the first ornament she ever received, and that it came in pink.

And now I have “Feliz Navidad” stuck in my head…

Elaina asked me what my favorite/most memorable ornament was, which actually took me a while.  My first instinct was a Mexican-themed ornament that I received from my parents in 1996.  They bought it for me because I was becoming quite proficient in Spanish at the time and was driving my siblings nuts by continually speaking to them in Spanish.

The girls still argue which of their snowmen is taller… sibling rivalry at its finest.

I had to gravitate back to our family Christmas ornament from 2017.  Their mother had just left, we did not really know what the future would hold, but we knew that we were happy to spend Christmas together.  It was one of the first holidays that showed us things to come and how we would not let anything dictate our enjoyment of the season.  A little sad as well, of course, but we made it.

And a tree topper to be named later…

And with that, I give you the Calkins Family Christmas Tree for 2019.  Not to sound depressing, but memories like the few above are what my girls are going to have long after I am gone, and are going to populate the stories that they pass on to their children about who their grandfather was and what life was like in our family.  Like everything else, I try to make every part of Christmas a big event; I just hope that they are enjoying it as much as I am.

Thanks for checking in on us.


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