the holidays came & went in a bit of a blur this year. and i'll be honest, i was absolutely horrible at visually documenting all of it. i totally neglected to take any pictures on halloween or thanksgiving. and although, i did remember to take my camera out on Christmas i did not remember to actually use it. so i have a handful of low quality iphone 4 pictures & that is it. pathetic, i know. so i'll do my best to put in to words what i forgot to put on film.
i opted to keep christmas low key this year. mostly, due to the fact that my energy was totally burned out after our trip to california, tj's birthday, school projects, & being a temporarily single mom while todd crammed for finals. tj & mylo didn't seem to mind one bit. coop, on the other hand, was constantly reminding me of all the forgotten festivities. i did make sure to fulfill his every holiday wish & squeeze in our annual traditions. we made gingerbread houses, scoped out the local christmas lights, watched santa paddle in on a double-hull canoe, visited the lahaina banyan tree in all its lit up wonder, devoured plenty frozen hot chocolate, wrote letters to & made cookies for santa, tracked santa on his trek to maui (which, did you know hawai'i is his last stop according to norad. personally, i think the guy in red gets a little exhausted from all the holiday hustle & bustle ends on hawai'i so he can stick around for a little rest & relaxation. we searched for him around island but we decided he was most likely on moloka'i to avoid all the paparazzi.), grilled christmas dinner on the beach, made sandmen & sand angels, & we baked, a lot, this year we added toffee & peppermint bark to our holiday treat list. every year we do an advent calendar. i've switched it up, sometimes, the boys open little doors to retrieve pieces of chocolate, sometimes they get a new book each day of december, one year they opened little bags with treats & toys. this year, as christmas approached, i noticed there was a little too me-me-me & not enough awareness of others. so our advent calendar involved reading a story about Jesus each day & checking off a list. and for the 12 days of Christmas we did a 12 days of service. this was definitely the most time consuming of our holiday activities & the most rewarding. early in the month coop & i made a list of 12 acts of service we would do for others as Christmas approached. some days the boys were not at all in to it & i was literally dragging them along. other times they were thoughtfully involved & so happy to serve. i don't know how effective this was for the boys but it was definitely the approach i needed to get my heart in the right place. this is a permanent addition to our Christmas traditions.
i guess all my attempts to keep them grounded through Christmas were totally foiled when i went a little overboard on the presents (due to my lack of planning & delayed shipping times). but i did remind them, multiple times, that they were spoiled this year & they shouldn't expect that many gifts ever again. this was the first year that all three of my boys were really in to Christmas. and i mean really. every thing was new to mylo. it was like he had never seen any of it & every thing was the coolest thing he had every seen. like Christmas lights. he couldn't get enough. and he was obsessed with santa. in fact, mylo has decided that he wants to be santa when he grows up. we made countless visits to the mall to spy the fat guy. but, despite all his amazement, mylo would not come in to contact with his hero. he regressed in to his shy shell every time santa looked his way. i kept most of their presents wrapped at the top of my closet until Christmas morning because i doubted mylo's self-control. but as packages for the boys started rolling in i opted to test putting a few presents under the tree. total mistake. twice i caught mylo curled up under a blanket right in front of the tree quietly opening presents. trouble-maker, i tell you. mylo & tj were very pleased with the constant flow of fresh goodies. they got very good at sneaking sweets whenever my back was turned. tj was really in to the elf on the shelf. he was the first one to spot hoku each morning. and this was the first year he picked out & paid for gifts for his brothers. he was very excited to share in the gift giving. cooper loves it all. from putting up the christmas tree to taking it down he is completely in to the all Christmas has to offer. although, like every seven year old, opening presents is the highlight of his holidays. he's been gift giving for years but every year his favorite gift to give is mine. he always makes me something full of love & thought that just makes my heart melt. this year it was a hand drawn calendar that hangs proudly above my desk.
i feel so blessed to have these boys in my life. every day i am grateful to our Lord & Heavenly Father for trusting me with such sweet spirits. being their mother is the second most incredible gift i have ever been given (first, being the atonement). and i strive every day to fulfill my responsibility to lead, guide, comfort, love, nurture, nourish, strengthen, & cherish my beautiful sons. i am also so tremendously grateful for my dear friends & family. like the beautiful & extremely talented alta bills that sketched our family picture featured on the front of our Christmas cards this year. mahalo to you, all. i hope this holiday season was full of happiness, peace, & aloha.