It’s the most wonderful time of year!

Santa was here! I was so surprised I got the boots I wanted and Beats headphones too!

He said

Wow! What a blur these last few days were! Leading up to Christmas Day, I had a run of days at work starting last Monday with Thursday off and then, three straight days this weekend – the busiest shopping days of the year! As expected, each day was whirlwind, over before I even had time to catch my breath but they were also so much fun! There wasn’t really any shopping we had left to do leading up in these last few days, so we really were – thanks to Danielle – organized and done well in advance of the last weekend.

The one big present I got for Danielle this year was something that began a couple of months ago – a lot longer when you consider how I had to pretend argue with Danielle about what artwork would go in the three frames we had chosen for over our bed. I long knew it would be something that meant a lot to us as did Danielle. And while I had floated the idea of a photo of The Rock at Mazinaw Lake in Bon Echo Provincial Park a mainstay of our summer camping plans, little did she know what I had up my sleeve.

Over the last month and a half I have been working on a ‘painted’ version of a picture we got of it with my iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil and a remarkable App called Procreate that allows digitally to paint with a lot less mess and space. There were a couple times while I was working away on my digital canvas only have to hide quickly what I was working on lest Danielle find out. I can only imagine how much harder that would have been with an easel, canvas and the requisite palette & paints!

The original photo was a panorama which I would divide up into 3 separate square, over-sized photo prints to fit into the the three frames we had purchased from Ikea forever ago. I was able to get the artwork all done in time to order the three prints and then spent my Friday morning after hockey getting the prints cut down and mounted into the frames. Once I did that, I put them back into the same corner they had sat in our bedroom for the last year in plain view. Knowing that Danielle might notice they were missing the cellophane wrapping, I covered up the fronts so she couldn’t see what was inside. Even if she did notice they looked different, she wouldn’t snoop, as she’s just not one to want to ruin the surprise – I could count on that.

I am really happy with how it all turned out, but I am even happier with how much she loved them. This camping location means so much to us, that it exists on an almost spiritual plane for us. We first heard about this beautiful park from our friend Gabriella who is no longer with us and as thus we have made sure to create more memories there every summer. Both Wolfie and Wolfie Too have spent every one of their summers with us, there. And we have made lifelong friends who we camp with there every year we’ve gone. It is so much a part of us and who we are as a family, I couldn’t think of any better image and memories to fall asleep under every single night going forward. And judging by Danielle’s reaction, I think she agrees.

Emelia and I went out to shop for a present that she wanted to get Danielle Thursday night this week. She had conducted her interview with Mummy over several of their trips out and about in the last few weeks to find out what she might like, and had arrived at wanting to get her a nice set of earrings. So, she and I went out to find something Thursday night as that was the only place in the calendar that agreed with both our busy schedules. We laboured through three jewellery shops and it was so sweet to see her strain over wanting to find just the right set of earrings – ones that she would cherish forever. What Emelia didn’t know is that no matter what they were, she would, but I let her work hard at finding just the right ones. And when she did, they cost a lot more than she expected, and I could see her face turn as she recognized they were outside of her budget. But with her heart set, I told her how I had 2 other things on my list for Mummy that I hadn’t yet got and I would be happy to skip them to help her out. The look on her face, made it all worth while.

And for me that’s what Christmas is all about – being able to make the most special two ladies in my life realize how much they mean to me. I know either one of them wouldn’t think twice about doing the same for me, and so I relish every single chance where I can do the same for them. The entire Christmas morning this year (aside from the headache I was battling), I found myself marvelling at just how lucky I was to be living in this three-person familial unit that had enough love and happiness for easily 12 more family members. And as much as there were a lot of really amazing, heartfelt gifts littering the floor of our living room, the truly amazing one – as far as I am concerned – was the two people I am fortunate enough share the most moments with.

She said

The week leading up to the big day was busy, busy, busy. We had a full schedule with Emelia’s gymnastics year end party, last minute holiday preparations and the last minute shopping. Add in there we had the Christmas party for the daycare kids and all the kids excitement we were all more than ready for the holiday to arrive.

In spite of having 90% of the prep done in advance almost a month ago it never fails the weekend before Christmas there is that mad rush to a ton of stores. While John was dealing with the madness at work Emelia and I were squaring away all the last minute errands. I was mostly done shopping for John but Emelia and I had a few last minute gifts left. It was important to me that we supported a number of small businesses as we could this year. We bought homemade jewelry for Emelia’s teachers and coaches, we got custom socks and Christmas ornaments for her secret Santa gifts, we got some small homemade items for Emelia for her stocking and finally Emelia and I took to finalizing her little gift to John she wanted to get some special homemade treasures. We founds some homemade creams, soaps and a warming wrap for his sore muscles after a long day at work. She was very careful with all her choices making sure they were perfect for her daddy. It was a special and busy day we spent together. Add in going to our local record store she helped me pick up a record for his record collection from his wish list. It was a busy day but filled with time with each other.

Finally we were ready, all we had to do was fill our morning Christmas Eve and wait for John to get done work. I had everything done and organized for the family gathering ahead and this allowed she and I to spend the day with her best friends. Susan messaged me to see if the girls could go skating together so she and I took all five girls downtown and spend the afternoon together and in the snow skating to Christmas music. Couldn’t be more perfect if we tried. Once we were home Emelia and the girls continued to play while Susan and Matt got their evening organized. They played right up until it was time for the girls to go to their grandparents and for us to leave to Helen and Doug’s for our first Christmas gathering.

With John still at work Emelia and I headed over to start the family celebrations. John thankfully got off work a bit earlier and he was able to join us a bit earlier than we thought. Before we knew it the entire family was there and we were all ready for a fun family evening began. It was so incredible to have the entire family together. We all have such busy lives that these cherished holidays together are so precious to all of us. The grown ups spent the evening catching up and the kids spent the night playing together. The dinner was out of this world and then we moved to the highlight of the night for the kids – the presents. Everyone got spoiled. I know Emelia was thrilled and overwhelmed with everything she received. Some of her top wish list items were opened and it was certainly the start of a fabulous holiday for her. The evening went by in a flash and before we knew it the evening was getting away from us and we had to make our way home.

Finally after a restful night Christmas morning had arrived. This was a real transition year for Emelia. Her first when there wasn’t a single toy on her list so we have moved to full tween girl mode. It was a challenge but we managed with some hard searches we managed to get her the must haves on her list and stayed in budget. And her face made all the work worth it. She was over the moon excited. She got her much wanted ‘ugg’ style boots, her Beats headphones, clothes, books, and her top wish from Santa her new instax mini camera. She got spoiled and the look on her face was absolutely amazing. It was the reaction you always hope for when you pick each gift out.

Emelia wasn’t the only one who got spoiled. John and Emelia managed to spoil me once again and find the most personal gifts. For over the years I am always amazed that John can find the most treasured moments in our lives and make a treasured gift from them. This year he managed to create two. One was the art he mentioned above, the custom painting he made for our bedroom, and the second is one that funny enough I almost got for him. It is a print of the constellations the night we started dating. I had been wanting to get this for him for Father’s Day this year but for the date that Emelia was born. I adore it and love that both of us wanted the same for each other.

It was an amazing holiday spending lots of time with friends and family. It was a Christmas none of us will easily forget. Merry Christmas everyone!

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