Saturday smiles: Holiday edition

Who knew that putting up the Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving could be a mood changer? There’s something about the lights and the change in decor. And the candles. It all just says “home” to me. And “special.” It’s a special time of year, and even though we lost a good chunk of ornaments when our basement flooded in September, we still have the important ones. The ones that tell a story.

Decorating for Christmas — that makes me smile. Especially when the kids are excited and want to help.

They got their own decorations this year. Well, actually, they got them last¬†year but this is the first time we’ve had them out.

It’s three Little People nativity sets — the classic manger scene, the inn of Bethlehem and the three wise men. The kids are having a blast playing with all the characters. Isabelle was even telling Bible-themed, theologically sound stories with them today. (She can’t help it, really. Her dad is in seminary and sometimes reads from his texts to her to see if she’ll take a nap.)

Even rearranging the living room and other parts of the house to make room for Christmas makes me smile. Sometimes, change is good.

Taking the time to enjoy a special meal. That’s another reason to smile.

And setting the table with the “nice” dinnerware, placemats, a tablecloth and cloth napkins. Even though it didn’t feel like much of a holiday to us, the little things made it more meaningful. Also, the kids added this touch to the table.

A Little People Thanksgiving set they received in the mail earlier in the week. Yes, our house is overrun by Little People, in more ways than one.

Then, there was the parade, an annual Myerstown event that lines up in front of our house. The entries we see out our window are always about a third or halfway through the lineup, so we walk to church to watch it all the way through.

This year, the kids really got into it. Okay, I know that doesn’t look like Corban’s into it, but he was locked in, taking it all in.

When a miniature car beeped its horn, he jumped like 6 inches in the air. He was startled but he hung in there. He needed my lap later, but watching the parade with my kids was a big smile-maker for me. Especially since Phil had to work and I was on my own. I survived another on-my-own parenting adventure. Woohoo!

Later, everyone loosened up a bit.

This just makes me smile. She’s such a ham. And she loves it. Being the Statue of Liberty is her dream job, I think. That or fairy princess. Or pirate. Or artist.

I’ll let you guess what he’s pointing at. It’s not horses. Or tractors. Or animals. It’s a football on a banner for the town’s league. I motioned to one of the nice young men handing out candy that Corban was a future football player, and he gave Corban two lollipops. (I say he’s a future football player because he seems to have a knack for hitting things with his head.)

Yeah, there’s a lot of kid smiles this week.

Like this moment when they were sharing and playing nicely together.

If we colored one of these pictures this week, we colored half a dozen. They love to color. And that makes me smile.

I cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, mostly by myself, and my kitchen is not the worse for it. In fact, it looks better than it does in a normal week of cooking.

My husband came to our rescue, unexpectedly, while the kids and I were at the tree lighting ceremony in town. Corban had almost fallen out of the wagon on his head (I was literally holding him by the zipper on his sweatshirt) and I was ready to pack it in before the tree lit up when my handsome husband came striding up the street. It was almost like a movie.

A man at church said the molasses cookies I made for the potluck were “just like my mom used to make.” A HUGE compliment of my baking. I’ve found another go-to recipe for gifts.

My best friend said, “I can tell you these things because you won’t think I’m crazy.” And that makes me smile, too. Because that’s a great measure of friendship. Crazy, off-the-wall, hair-brained ideas, and friends say, “Go for it!” (She’s that kind of friend to me, too.)

I had plenty of lows this week, but man, when I look back on the highs, I’m so glad they come to mind more easily and stick in my head more definitively than the lows.

Here’s hoping you have plenty of smiles in the weeks to come!