this december

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i love that christmastime comes every single year. thinking about this lately has helped me to be really relaxed about all things christmas related this december. if we don’t get to something or something doesn’t work out the way we’d hoped, there’s always next year. this concept seems really obvious, but in the past i’ve experienced some stress around making christmastime perfectly full, and this time around i’m just taking it as it comes and enjoying it all. that feels so good.

our city and our flat are all aglow with merriment and festivity. everyday there’s new gorgeous storefronts and decorated trees and lights strung across streets to discover around town, and it’s always so fun to return to our little home with the christmas tree shining warmly in the big bay window. there’s now christmas music playing over the speakers at our grocery store (which normally has no music playing), and moses has a mini christmas tree in his bedroom! 

the process of creating our traditional gingerbread house all from scratch is going slooooow this year. we’ve had the baked walls and roof pieces sitting on our countertop for weeks because we just haven’t had a good chunk of time to get it all put together (with homemade stained glass windows and drapey snow and a cool yard). we’ll get there eventually - definitely in the next week (i can’t believe there’s only seven more sleeps until christmas!)

last week i dedicated a couple of days to self-care. moses went to the chrildrens’ centre at ian’s office (we get twenty free days a year, and he loves it there!) and i went to yoga and therapy and got things done. it was really needed, and really good for me and for our family. i feel like i’m climbing up, and that feels hard and also quite powerful.

we met some friends at the london transport museum the other day and happened upon a super fun singing/story time … with santa! moses was thrilled to see the big man in real life (he’s obsessed with the santa ornaments we have on our tree and says “NANA” - close enough, right?! -  incredibly loudly and enthusiastically anytime he sees any rendering of father christmas). it was pretty funny to see him get so excited and wave and clap, but then get super scared and clingy if he got closer than about ten feet away from santa. 

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^^ this picture is fabulously blurry and totally representative of my experiences with moses (especially particularly exciting experiences). homeboy is always on the move and trying to snap a picture of him makes me always on the move! ^^
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it has been really cold in london lately. it’s not cold compared to a lot of places in winter, but it’s cold compared to our previous winters in this city! we’ve been cozying up with hot tea and space heaters and fuzzy sweaters. 

last night we hosted a gathering of friends for a white elephant gift exchange at our flat. i planned this little get-together with a friend, and it turned out to be a really fun night. we had about 8-9 families packing into our front room, with a gaggle of little boys playing with toys (and/or shaking lots of pine needles off the tree, haha) in the middle of us all. we met some new people, reconnected with others, and enjoyed some yummy treats. ian and I gave a full fish (scales and eyeballs included) as our gift and i have to say it was a hit (we had been to a white elephant party before where someone gave a live lobster - as in still moving around in the box!). 

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moses is learning new words and tricks every day. my current favourites are…
he says “rolo” every time he hears a dog bark (the dog that lives below us is named rolo!). the way he says it is just soooo cute. i also love how he says “uh oh” (and sometimes gets mixed up and says “oh uh”). 
he plugs his nose when i ask him to say “PU!” i didn’t teach him this - he just learned it from watching me change his diaper, haha. 
he proudly holds up one finger when you ask him how old he is. 
he voluntarily (without being asked) offers hugs and kisses and says i love you (by rubbing his chest) multiple times a day. he does this for me, for his dad, for his baby brother (his wide-mouthed kiss on my belly is just the cutest thing ever), for his stuffed animals or any toy, for friends that he plays with, and even occasionally for strangers on the tube (don’t worry, we make sure he doesn’t actually give slobbery kisses to random people ;) ). 

last saturday we had our traditional cookie decorating party with the primary children in our (old) church congregation. even though we’ve moved we still wanted to have this fun activity with the kids we love so much. only three of the children could make it (it’s a long journey to our flat for most of the kids now!) but we had a really fun morning together. 

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our awesome friend lauren babysat for us last week and we had a fantastic date night. first, we went to this super cool store in soho called choose love that sells real products for refugees. i love this concept - you can christmas shop, but not just for loved ones close to you … for strangers far away that are so in need. ian and i picked out a few things to purchase and learned a bit about the help refugees organization and their work. then, we walked a little loop around the best christmas lights/displays of mayfair hand in hand and chatting. finally we had dinner together at the ivy soho. the ivy is a group of restaurants in london that are always fabulously dressed up for seasons/holidays, especially christmas. i have always wanted to eat at one! it was one of my favourite meals ever because the atmosphere was so fun and festive, the food was yummy, and we just had a really good time together. 

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our tree is pretty much dead as a doornail. boo! how can we make it last longer?! we are thinking that next year we will wait until 10 december or so to get our tree so that it can be semi-alive on christmas. but I don’t know if we will actually be able to wait that long… 

on 14 december, we had a special saint lucia breakfast. i absolutely love this tradition (you can read about it here, and about saint lucia’s story here). we celebrated a day late because of other things happening on the 13th, but i wore a white dress and made aebleskivers (no pine bough crown this year, but … there’s always next year!). i’m getting a lot better at making those tricky pancake balls, and we love to guess what the filling will be before we eat each one. 

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last saturday afternoon we took the journey to greenwich. we heard there were fun christmassy things there in the market, and a free santa’s grotto that you don’t have to book ahead for (so many in london sell out moooonths before christmas)! we traveled there by boat on the thames and home by train/tube. honestly it turned out to not really be worth all the effort to go all the way out there - i thought the santa set-up was a little lame (last year we looooved the grotto at duke of york square, but they didn’t do one there this year!) and it ended up costing money anyway after all…dang. but we still had a good time together as a family and had some yummy street food and fudge from a christmas stall. again moses was not about to sit on santa’s lap … but he did give some high fives! 

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moses and i love to wait at the bay window, surrounded by pine boughs and twinkle light, for dad to come home each workday evening. little mo gets soooo excited when he sees his daddy and, after lots of waves and looks back at me as if to say “mom! can you believe how awesome it is that dad is home?!” he scampers to the door to greet ian with a hug and kiss. 

little mo is obsessed with our advent calendar (which was lovingly made my ian’s mom and is an exact replica of the one they had in their home when ian was growing up). every morning, we simply say the words “advent calendar” and moses pretty much freaks out. he loves unwrapping the little presents and then choosing a spot to stick each little ornament on the tree. he’s learning a lot about patience and delayed gratification as we remind him multiple times a day that we only get to do one advent calendar unopening per morning! 

moses continues to love, love, love seeing the statue of jesus at our church building. it’s even better surrounded in poinsettias! 

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each night ian and i snuggle up in bed together and either talk about how darling moses is and how much we love him (we literally can chat about that for so long!) or read aloud from a christmas carol (we read it with each other every year!). ian is wonderful in a million ways and i am so so lucky he is mine. 

this month has really been full of super sweet highs and some pretty dark lows. the light of christmas shines through it all. being pregnant at christmastime is a really cool experience - just makes thinking about baby jesus so much more personally powerful for me. and christmastime with a toddler is seriously so fun. i am so excited to see little mo’s face on christmas morning! 


  1. Is your tree in a stand with a water trough? Ours has a very deep one and we water it at least twice a day. The tree should get a free cut off the bottom of the trunk when you buy it and get it in the tree stand asap. We first add a bottle of 7up or sprite and then water. The tree should drink a lot in the first 3 days. If the stand goes dry the bottom of the tree will seal and the tree will begin to dry out. Your tree looks beautiful. I hope the dark days become fewer and fewer. Enjoy your blog very much.

    1. yes it's in a stand with water! we've checked the water almost every day and it's always really full, so we rarely add any. it's just not drinking the water! maybe it was the lack of fresh cut when we bought it...? we'll try the 7up ext year!

  2. I am having the same problem with my tree, sigh. Next year saw a few inches off the bottom of the trunk when you get it home. The fresh cut will allow it to absorb more water. That's what my parents always did and I know that I should, but I've never bothered before and it was always fine....guess my tree wasn't as fresh this year. Good thing there's always next year!

  3. Wow! Such lovely photos! Moses is over the top adorable in those suspenders.

    Yay for self care! Double yay for childcare!! I hope you're sure to use all 20 days this year as well as next year. Taking care of a toddler while pregnant or parenting a newborn is hard work.

    1. oh yes! we will definitely use all 20 days. especially next year because i am going back to school in the fall!

  4. Charity- Today I read this and thought of you (especially since you are growing a sweet new baby boy). It is a beautiful read!
    Xoxo! Happy Christmas!

  5. Your short(er) hair looks amazing!! Oh man, now I want to cut mine, too.... You're shining, Charity! :)

    1. thank you! i always, always regret it when i cut my hair short. and then i do it again. haha.

  6. In regards to the tree - maybe you should celebrate the German way. During advent we have a wreath with four candles (one lit each Sunday before Christmas) and our Christmas trees are decorated just before Christmas (in my family even on Christmas Eve). And they stay at least until the 6th of January, Epiphany.

    Btw, all your photos make me want to visit London during Christmas time! Maybe next year.

    1. i couldn't last all the way until christmas eve without the smell of a live christmas tree in my house all the time. and don't tell me buy a pine-scented candle ;)

      thanks for sharing about your tradition, though! my brother and his family that live in switzerland don't get a tree until christmas eve either!

  7. If the tree was pre cut when you bought it that means that the sap would have moved all over the base to protect itself which means it can't absorb water. If you cut a small bit off the base again it'll open the trunk back up and begin to soak the water up. Also 1 Cup of super per Litre of water will ensure it stay nice and fresh (same suggestion with the 7up with the sugar) happy holidays!

  8. Wow that children's center at Ian's work sounds amazing! What a nice perk!

    And I agree strongly with your first paragraph. I have been cutting waaaaaay down on my "expectations" I guess you could say. I'm not worried about fitting every.little.thing this year. And I have been SO stress-free! It's been nice. My kids are so little, they don't need a million crafts and activities and parties and outings. They are happy with the simple stuff, and they are happy to have a mom that's not feeling crazy. Christmastime can be magical even when it's simple. And really, it's all about CHRIST. That's what matters, and I haven't slacked on emphasizing and teaching my children that.

    1. love this. as long as we get the important stuff in (baby jesus!), the rest is just bonus!!

  9. I went to therapy for 5.5 years in my 50's. I think everyone can generally benefit from therapy. It can be difficult, though! But, sometimes we need to find different ways of thinking and doing and reacting to the people and issues in our lives.

  10. Why not try an artificial tree? Less mess too.

    1. not a chance. real, live (well, for at least a few weeks, haha!) christmas trees are something i am fiercely committed too.

  11. The tree struggle is real! We never manage to get ours early enough for it dying before Christmas to be a problem. But then whenever we take it down in January it's inevitably dead and the pine needles go everywhere in our house.
    I'm so glad to hear that you took a couple of self care days! And good for you for going to therapy. It's hard work, but it is so worth it if you put the work in during the period of time you go for.

  12. Our neighbor told us that he cuts off the bottom again to prevent the sap sealing issue, plus he drills five or six holes around the trunk in areas that will also be underwater...and he cuts his trees before Thanksgiving and keeps them till twelfth we are going to try it next year! Good luck! Real trees are the best.


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