Happy New Year everyone! Mazzy and Harlow had the first week of January off, so this is our first day back at school. The kids were really excited about going back, let me tell you. That was sarcasm, in case that wasn’t clear. I had to drag them both out of bed by their hair. That was an exaggeration. There was no hair pulling, just dragging. Before we can move on with 2019 though, I have to do a recap of our winter break. We had two full weeks. The first week was spent at the house and the second week was spent in Miami.

I’ll save Miami for tomorrow’s post.

This is the third year in a row that we have spent Christmas in our house on Long Island with my sister’s family. We basically spend five days doing absolutely nothing and going absolutely nowhere. It’s fantastic. The husbands cook, the kids get showered with presents and my sister and I drink as much wine as possible.

Which is like 1-2 glasses a night because we are old and total lightweights.

This is also our third year buying a tiny Christmas tree. We buy a potted tree the weekend before Christmas and then plant it in our yard after the holidays are over. I have big plans for our trees. They are going to help block our neighbor’s ugly tool shed. The photo below is last year’s replanted Christmas tree. How many years before it blocks my neighbor’s house? We removed a dead tree which is why there is a space there. I think we’ll put the new one to the right in place of that wooden platform thing. Then, in like forty years, we’ll finally have privacy.

This year’s tree was a little bigger than previous years, but I think proportional to how much the kids have grown.

Since this is only our third tree ever, this was the first time I appreciated the joy of taking out our ornaments. The first year, I just bought lights and a bag of little green and red balls at the same place I bought the tree, so we’d have something to put on it. The kids added a homemade Elsa and a snowflake ornament, since that was back in the time when they were obsessed with Frozen. The second year, I had some wooden ornaments made with photos of the kids from previous holidays, so our tree would feel more meaningful. That year, we also got a big glass Hanukah ornament as a gift from Allie. We added a big bow towards the top, which was lifted off a bottle of wine some friends brought over.

This year, I was almost amazed to find everything all together in the closet where I stored it last year. Even the star on top, made by Mazzy three years ago, when she determined we needed a Jewish star on top of our first Christmas tree. She fashioned it out of purple pipe cleaners and I loved finding it smushed at the bottom of the bag and reshaping it before we put it back on top.

It’s amazing how quickly and easily things become sentimental. Even those Frozen snowflakes.

This year, we added some ornaments we got at Radio City Music Hall when Harlow and I danced with the Rockettes. Did I tell you about that?

We also made felt ornaments as a Christmas Eve activity— cats, robots, stars and ice cream cones. And I brought Santa hats and reindeer ears to the house that I had from a photo shoot. When we put everything away this year, we’ll probably have two or three bags of Christmas stuff to store instead of just one.

Now I get why most people go crazy with their decor! You guys have been accumulating Christmas memories for way longer than we have!

On Christmas Eve Eve, Harlow got inspired to make a special edition of Harlow’s News all about how the Grinch was taking over Christmas. You can watch it below.


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It’s pretty hilarious to see Harlow get into the holiday spirit. I don’t know if it’s just this age or how she’ll always be, but her joy over every little thing— the family time, the presents, the decorating, the traditions that she remembers from last year— it’s all contagious.

Mazzy came down with a fever and did her best to remain jolly while nursing a pretty bad cold. She is also currently on the fence about Santa, but still wants very badly to believe. At nine-years-old, she had really high expectations for the holidays this year, which was new for us. On Christmas Eve, she had me track Santa all evening online just like last year. She set out a plate of carrots and candy canes for the reindeer, while Harlow put out gingerbread cookies and milk for Santa. Mazzy labeled them both “For Santa” and “For Reindeer” so they would know whose was whose.

When I told the  kids that they had to go to bed because Santa was just three hours away (according to the tracker) and he wasn’t going to stop at our house if anyone was up, Mazzy said, “That means you have to go to bed too!”

Basically it was like the whole Macy’s debacle never happened. PHEW.

Christmas morning started bright and early with everyone running downstairs to see their gifts. I actually switched things up from last year and made sure Santa only brought one gift each (plus whatever he put in their stockings), while the rest of the presents came from us or from each other. I feel like it’s a nice transition from solely relying on “magic.”

Harlow had asked Santa for a LEGO and Friends speedboat, but later, had doubts about her decision. Santa got Harlow what she requested, but she was most excited about the gift that I gave her— a ukulele.

Don’t you love it when you know your kids better than they know themselves??? Mazzy was less enthused with my gift for Harlow. “Mom, you know she’s going to play that constantly now, right???” Two weeks later and YES I DO KNOW THAT NOW. I still have high hopes she’ll really be able to play one day though.

Santa got Mazzy a unicorn instead of an alicorn and it was stuffed (not a “real live” one as requested), but Mazzy loved it anyway.

She was a little disappointed initially. Not because of the unicorn, but more with her other gifts. It seems Mazzy got books and craft sets (all fitting for a 9yo, I thought), but I guess what she really wanted was toys. That’s what she had gotten from Santa in previous years and that’s what she was expecting. She wanted to play with Harlow’s Polly Pocket and Jack’s Duplo set. Midway through the day, she came over to me complaining that she had nothing to do.

“I didn’t get anything to play with,” she told me.

I made a million suggestions (all were rejected) and then she said, “Mom, will you play unicorn with me?”

“Okay,” I said.

She told me we were taking Star (that’s her name) to the stable. She got a brush and combed her mane and tail. She trimmed her eyelashes with a scissor. She took out a big blush brush and gave her hooves a polish. “She’s so soft, Mom.”

Soon Harlow, Jack and Neve all left their toys to come to play “stable” with Mazzy. Jack petted Star and Mazzy told him to be gentle.

“She likes to be treated with love,” she said.

“She’s not real, Mazzy,” Jack said.

Mazzy responded, “Yes, she is. You just have to believe in her.”

Oh, my heart. The Christmas spirit is alive and well. Star slept in Mazzy’s bed that night, covered with her own blanket

A few days later, it was time to pack our things and head back to the city for a few days before we left for Miami. We took the subway to Rockefeller Center and made a special trip to see the Christmas windows, another holiday tradition of ours.

“Mom, why can’t they leave up the pretty decorations all year round?” Harlow asked me.

“Because then it wouldn’t be as special when they came out.”

“Why can’t every day be special?” she wanted to know.

Hmmmm. I guess every day can be special, but they won’t come quite as easy as on the holidays.

We spent New Year’s Eve the same place we do every year— at my friend Emily’s party.

The adults get dressed up, the kids come in pajamas…

…and Mike falls asleep on the big red chair in the corner.

I mean, that’s what the holidays are all about— establishing those Wiles family traditions. On to 2019!