1. Ben's Year 3 class put on the final school assembly of the year, which of course was Christmas-themed.
He rocked out in the centre of all his class mates in his green shorts and red shirt and pulled some pretty funky moves. I was really proud of him for getting into it with so much enthusiasm, especially because I know that he was quite nervous about performing in front of some of the older kids.
2. Ben actually agreed to get a haircut.
This took enormous amounts of coaxing and cajoling on my part, including unsubtle references to 1.) the likelihood of nits; 2.) the resemblance of his hair to a bird's nest and 3.) the certain reception of horror with which his (previous) hairdo would be received by his Grandmother on Christmas Day. I finally got him to concede by telling him that if he got it shaved his baby sister would no longer be able to pull it vigorously on a daily basis.
3. In the week before Christmas, Ben and I went on an organised two-hour bus ride around the suburbs surrounding the town where we live to look at the houses that were decorated with Christmas lights. We paid a gold coin donation for our seat, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross. The bus driver was dressed as Santa and heaps of the passengers had dressed up in Christmas attire as well. They played carols the whole time and passed round bowls of lollies.
4. My Christmas shopping was decidedly stress-free this year because I decided to get everybody in my family a book. I wrote a list, made one trip to the book shop and thirty-two books later, I was done.
I hope no-one in my family minds getting a book every year for every Christmas for the term of my natural life!
5. Even though I know quite a lot of grumpiness and grinch-like behaviour circulates in the lead up to Christmas, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by some of the demonstrations of Christmas Spirit I encountered this year, the most unforgettable of which being the moment our garbo performed a random act of kindness which turned out to be quite possibly the best Christmas present I received this year!
6. As part of the delicious meal my eldest sister cooked on Christmas Eve, she made coconut ice and rocky road from the recipe our Nanna used to use, as she has every year for the last eleven years since Nanna passed away. Sharing these treats and keeping the family tradition alive made it feel like she was there with us all in spirit.
7. Ben and I went to church on Christmas morning with my parents. I hadn't been to church with my parents on Christmas Day for eleven years. It was a really lovely way for all three generations to start the day together.
The lady playing the organ might have pitched all the carols about two octaves too high for the congregation, but I decided that in the spirit of Christmas I would not judge her, seeing as I myself have never played an organ in a church full of people while singing at the same time. Look out though; I might just decide to do that one day!
8. I loved how excited Ben was to give Annalisa her first Christmas present. She was just excited to be getting a cuddle from her big bro.
9. We stayed with my parents for almost a week over the Christmas period and in that time I watched heaps of movies at home with my mum. Most of the films were funny ones, but there were a few whodunnits in there too. We both seem to share a penchant for a good murder. By the end of the week, I felt like I'd been on a real holiday. That probably had something to do with the fact that I also didn't cook a single meal the whole time ...
10. It was so wonderful to see how relaxed Annalisa was in my parents' house throughout this visit. When we visited about three months ago, she was quite unsure of where she was. This time, she was running around, exploring every nook and cranny.
11. One of my nieces and one of my nephews made some really creative handmade presents and decorations this year. This is a nativity set my niece made for her grandparents. I think using the torch for the Christmas star was pretty ingenious.
12. And finally, I'm thankful that I was able to forgive someone in my life that I needed to forgive. I don't necessarily believe they deserved for me to forgive them, but I came to realise that forgiveness is a choice rather than a feeling. I think if I waited until I had felt forgiving towards them I would have been waiting a long, long time. So I chose to forgive them instead, and that felt good. That felt like a weight I didn't have to carry around with me any more.