After our trip to Disney, we rolled right into the holiday season, kicking off it off with the Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the following day, we put up our Christmas tree. The weather was super warm which made it feel a bit uncanny, celebrating the holiday we typically associate with cold and snow, but these unseasonal days upon us for some of our normal holiday traditions made things easier and more enjoyable.
Our first stop every year is to see Santa at ABC Home. The kids have been visiting this jolly St. Nick for the last four years, and we just found out he will be retiring. Naturally, we couldn’t tell the kids, but it left Jason and I sad, because he truly is the real deal. I wonder who will fill his very big boots, next year.
We opted not to cut our Christmas tree down this year, because we are still getting over the spider incident from our tree last year. I am hopeful that memory will eventually fade, and we can make a fresh cut tree a new tradition.
This year, a new holiday shopping outlet opened in our neighborhood, at the Bowling Green Station. The kids and I made several trips there to pick out presents for our family and friends. We also discovered these darling Nesting Dolls. Ryder, Siella, and Gemma each received a set for Christmas, and it turned out to be a great gift for others too.
If you haven’t ventured to Dyker Heights to see the amazing Christmas lights you are definitely missing out. The kids sipped hot cocoa and munched on popcorn in the back seat, as we rolled through the streets, mesmerized by all the decked out homes. I’ve been coming here every year since I was a kid, and it never gets old.
Since moving to our neighborhood 11 years ago, its undergone quite a transformation. Brookfield is booming with new shops and restaurants, and this super cool art installation called the Luminaries, lit up the center all month long. There’s an ice skating rink right outdoors too!
Last year, Siella and I started an annual tradition of going to George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. Before the show, with my mom by our side, we headed over to the Algonquin Hotel for some tea. This is such a special time for us, enjoying Siella’s excitement, as she recalled scenes from the show all fueled by her love for ballet. I can totally see her up on that stage one day, doing what she loves so much. I look forward to continuing this tradition, and next year will be Gemma’s first show!
Ryder performed in his second Christmas Pageant at our little church, playing a townsman this year. There were tons of school night and weekend practices, and all the kids did a wonderful job performing “The First Christmas.”
We have a family recipe for chocolate chip cookies that I break out every Christmas season. This year, I modified it to accommodate Ryder’s gluten intolerance, after probably the third batch switching to buckwheat flour, I totally perfected it. In fact, no one even realized they were gluten free this year. With Siella in preschool, I think I baked more batches this year than in years past, giving neighbors and friends little containers, to spread the Christmas spirit. The girls helped bake too, but they may have eaten more than they cooked!
A new event for us this season was the Polar Express themed brunch, at the Peninsula Hotel. Featuring the conductor from the story, the kids had tickets stamped, while he read them the story, and they enjoyed hot cocoa. We are totally doing this again next year. More on our experience here.
The weekend before Christmas, we enjoyed a little staycation at Affinia Hotels, in Midtown. It was a great way experience the many Christmas happenings in the area, like the Rockefeller Christmas tree, Radio City Christmas show, and all the store windows, including Saks Fifth Avenue’s new light show. More on that here.
Christmas Eve is spent with Jason’s family and Christmas Day with my family. It’s been that way forever, and its nice not having to plan for those two days, although one year I hope to host a big Christmas eve feast. On the Eve, we get home early to leave cookies, carrots and milk for Santa and his reindeers. I was so smitten with our new cookie plate this year from Personal Creations. The middle of the plate features a chalkboard area, which allowed each child to write their own little message to Santa. It’s super cute, and nice to have dedicated plate and cups for this.
Christmas morning started around 7am, which is the latest they’ve ever slept on a Christmas morning. Ryder was busting for a hoverboard, and Santa was gracious enough to leave one under the tree. Siella received an American Girl changing table for her prized doll, Heart Star, along with a ton of outfits for her. Gemma, opened her very first American Girl doll, so now she could play with her big Sis. But the most special moment of the morning came after the kids were done unwrapping, and Ryder and Siella handed Jason and I presents that they made for us. It brought tears to our eyes, as we realized they have a real understanding of what the Christmas spirit is all about.
Our Christmas was filled with so much joy and with so many activities, it felt as if we celebrated for an eternity. Ryder, Siella, and Gemma are at a great age to experience all the magic. We are now headed to our 8th annual trip out to the Hamptons for New Years. Hope your Christmas was just as magical.