Monday, December 28, 2015

A Simple Country Christmas

"Give me that old fashioned-Christmas..."  Well, this year, we got it.  With the snow and the Radio Flyer sleigh and the 100-year-old Toler family farm.  Except without the tree or lots of presents.

Thanks to a niece getting married (my first experience playing back-up wedding photographer!) and one of my sister's, we traveled to Utah and Idaho this Christmas.

We prefer traveling light, especially given the life support required for little ones, so we did Christmas and big presents before we left.  Given that we still await our things from England and a pressing work deadline for me, our Christmas at home was extremely simple - one Little People creche sent out by my mom, Christmas cards from the few friends who have managed to wrangle out our new address from us, and a Charlie Brown tree cut from our own land (these types are considered weeds out East - hard for this dessert-born girl to fathom!) decked with dried fruit and a solitary popcorn string.

our sorry Charlie Brown tree surrounded by brown paper packages tied up with string

Out western Christmas was even more simple.  We didn't even bother with a tree, Charlie Brown or no. Stockings (we didn't want to replicate those we love in our shipment) were in short supply, so we used boots.  The only gifts we did were stocking stuffers and Gideon's long-awaited tractor.  Our food menu was abbreviated, and schedules cleared because we frankly didn't have much to do.  

Christmas Eve lunch date. Pocatello had a Cafe Rio and a wonderful bookstore, the Walrus & Carpenter.
Baking our special gingerbread sweetbread on Christmas Eve for Santa and Christmas breakfast.
Santa has a sense of humor - he left mustaches for all of us in our stockings.  I also gave everyone PJs - see bottoms for all of us (though Gideon and Esther's PJs didn't make it thanks to a Pottery Barn snafu...)
Esther was the great apple thief, biting into everyone's apples if left unattended.  Looked like we had a mouse.
I gave Esther my old iPod.  She is in heaven!

Dad was delighted by his dark chocolate-covered grahams.

And G his tractor.

All bundled up.

These sleighs were amazingly well built and could probably have held another plus the cat...

This little girl will miss her Poppy.

Christmas Eve cuddles.

We trappsed all over the farm like this.

Dad Toler preparing his bonfire.
Poppy's bonfire was a hit!

The full moon was spectacular
Boxing Day jaunt through the farm out buildings.

Mom Toler and Esther at the cabin.

She was a champ at balancing on this saucer, as she can't hold on.

After being pulled around himself, Gideon pulled Esther around the entire coop. She wouldn't get out!

"It's a tunnel!"
Feeling a bit Who-villish, without our gifts or the trappings or the heavy schedule or even the stuff to support tradition-keeping, we still managed to enjoy Christmas--tremendously.  In its simplicity, we were able to enjoy one another, build and form relationships, and try to remember the Reason for this miraculous time of year. We had one of our most memorable Christmases ever.

Breaking Christmas down to its essentials has impacted how I am thinking about my New Years goals.  I want to keep it simple.  I am not going to focus on changing the world or writing more academic articles or possibly anything that can be checked off a list of resume-worthy accomplishments (an addiction if ever I had one).  Instead, I think I will focus on serving and loving my family.  If I can get that right, I'm guessing the rest will work itself out.

Small Wonders
* Gideon saw a November issue of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint Ensign from his year (which has reports from my faith's General Conference), and said, "it's a General Conference book.  Read it!"
* I asked Gideon to help me feed Esther by taking her some food, to which he replied, "Of course I will."
* Gideon has started to show color and sophistication in his vocabulary and diction.  He will often speak slowly so that he gets the pronunciation right, and I ever heard him switch his tense so that his sentence was correctly constructed.
* Gideon almost dropped something and said, "That was a close one!"
*  Gideon told his "Wowie," Grandma Toler, when he arrived at the Heber Cabin for the Toler Reunion (see pics below), "You made a good house, Wowie!"
* Esther's understanding has expanded manifold in recent days.  She will now clearly say "yeah" as a positive response to a yes or no question.  It's incredibly cute.
* She can eat for up to 90 minutes in one sitting.  If she isn't permitted to eat for long periods or get enough carbs in to sustain her girth, she will not sleep through the night.

I got to play backup photographer for our niece's wedding - a very fun challenge.

Wiping up the groom's spill called for some of the best angles of the night.

After the wedding, the Toler clan had a reunion (sans bride and groom) at a snowed-in cabin in Heber.  Sunday morning at the  cabin was one of the best in memory - watched "church" in our PJs while the snow softly fell outside.

It snowed almost the entire time!

Lance made a great angel for our nativity pageant.

And Gideon a great Joseph.

Tubing at Soldier Hollow was a hit. 

Both enjoyed going down the bunny hill in their own tubes, and Gideon loved the big hill.  Brave boy.

As Lance said, "That's the sorriest snowman I've ever seen!"

I snuck out to have lunch with my high school girlfriends - 25 years later, and I love these women even more and am blessed and inspired by their lives.

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