There was something special about celebrating our first Christmas as a family of three last year, but it turns out that second Christmases are a lot more fun! Dessa was filled with excitement and joy all season long and we have loved every moment of our second Christmas as a family of three.
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We kicked off the Christmas season a little early – first with a visit with Santa before Thanksgiving. Dessa loves Santa and gets excited every time she sees a picture of him, but she was not a fan of sitting on Santa's lap.
The following weekend we took a trip to Peacock Road Family Farm in Laingsburg, Michigan with my parents and my brother's family for another visit with Santa. This time, our trip included a train ride through the woods to Santa's cottage. Dessa opted out of sitting on Santa's lap a second time (and we can't really blame her), but she had lots of fun exploring his cottage when Santa stepped away for a few minutes.
A few days later, we took Dessa on her very first trip to the theater. Our sweet neighbor generously gifted us with tickets to see A Very Electric Christmas at Music Hall in Detroit. It was the perfect musical production for our toddler because the costumes lit up while the performers moved and danced to Christmas music. Dessa was entranced by the lights and it was fun to give her a little exposure to the arts.
After a couple of big events to kick off the holiday season, we had a blast preparing our home and our hearts for Christmas. We decorated our tree especially for Dessa. It didn't have any ornaments, but the tree was covered with the cutest garland made of felt dogs that I found at Michaels. Dessa LOVED the garland and I often found her rearranging the decorations during her play time.
Dessa also decorated her own magnetic Christmas tree from Melissa and Doug. In future years, it will serve as an Advent calendar; but this time around it was just another hands-on way for Dessa to experience Christmas.
Of course, with all of our holiday excitement, we couldn't forget Jesus as the real reason for our celebrations. Dessa and I created an Advent calendar a few weeks ago and she was so proud of her creation. She also played with the little Fisher Price nativity set that sat on our coffee table throughout the Advent season.
By this time, you've probably noticed that Dessa wore the same items on repeat throughout the holiday season. I purchased a simple capsule wardrobe to get her through the season and she got every penny out of that small investment. I especially love that only one of her shirts was specifically a Christmas shirt. The plaid dress, patent leather shoes, and basic accessories will be used all winter long and that red striped shirt (which is currently on sale) will be perfect for Valentine's Day.
Our days leading up to Christmas were filled with joy and we loved every moment of our first holiday season in our forever home. We finally decorated the living room pretty late in the game, but it took a long time for me to decide on the perfect decor for the room. (Stockings were from Pottery Barn, and window wreaths were from Michaels.) We strung battery operated LED lights on a timer through the wreaths and they looked beautiful lit up at night from inside and outside the house. The windows were trimmed with fresh cut garland and we placed fresh evergreen trimmings on the mantle with another set of LED bulbs. The truck pillow was a TJMaxx find and all of the other decor pieces were items we already owned that just sort of came perfectly together in the room. It became the perfect backdrop for some holiday magic.
Things really ramped up late last week when our string of Christmas parties kicked into gear on December 20th and it was an absolute whirlwind leading up to Christmas. My brother snapped this quick photo of the three of us on December 23rd and I'm so thankful because it was the only photo we had taken of all three of us during the holiday frenzy.
After a series of parties and celebrations, we were so excited to have a quiet Christmas Day at home. We tucked Dessa into bed on Christmas Eve and speculated about how our little one would react when she saw a pile of presents under the tree. Would she make a beeline for the brand new toddler chair we asked Santa to deliver or would she head straight for the wrapped gifts and put her new unwrapping skills to use? Or would Dessa be so surprised by the treasures under the tree that she would just point, stare, and whine in excitement?
Dessa surprised us both with her completely unexpected reaction. She paid zero attention to the tree or gifts when she woke up on Christmas morning. Instead, she marched right past Santa's display and went immediately to play with the new stuffed dog that she received on Christmas Eve from her Aunt and Uncle.
After a few minutes, Dessa was finally ready to open gifts from Santa, and she made sure to include her new dog in the fun. You may recognize a few of the toys from Dessa's Christmas wish list.
The rest of our Christmas day was filled with good food, a trip to Mass to celebrate Jesus' birth, and lots of playing with new toys. Dessa even had a special visit from the dog next door – it was a very merry Christmas indeed!
We intend to spend the next several days unwinding at home from all of the excitement. We've never had this much time at home as a family and it has been exactly what our family needed to rest up, recharge, and enjoy the magic of the season.