Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Strangers giving cheer, Christmas with parents

I have a ton of photos (not really, but it feels like it trying to get them off my phone) so I'll split Christmas into two posts. 

To start Christmas, I think it was the day before Christmas Eve that I had to go out to some stores and I absolutely dreaded it. I didn't want to go, I had a bad attitude about it, and I really didn't want to get Lucy all ready and bring her because it's absolutely exhausting for me to do that and I really struggle and usually end up crying in a parking lot. Add to that and it was right before the biggest holiday of the year and I figured people would be out in masses and I would have to deal with all of that. 

Which is exactly how all of that played out. 

But as we were leaving Walmart, and I know I looked like a cat dragged backwards through a bush, this older man approached me. Immediately all of my stranger danger alarms are going off and he says, "Ma'am? Can I ask you a question?" So I say yes because I'm not rude and he says, "It looks like you could use some Christmas cheer, can we give your daughter this teddy bear?". He pulls out this incredibly soft bear and obviously Lucy is all about it so I said yes and thanked him, and he walks off. I have no idea where he went. 

So I'm walking out to the parking lot, kind of in awe that that just happened and Lucy is hugging her bear like she's never had one before, and as I'm completely pissed because I'm realizing what I forgot to get (which is what I came to the store for in the first place), I get to my car and open up the trunk. This blue mini van pulls up and this woman opens her window. Immediately I'm thinking this is one of those people who asks if you have gas money and they have a whole story about their work check not clearing the bank, etc. But no. She says "We give baskets out to people randomly, and you look like you could use some Christmas cheer. Can we give you a basket?". I'm kind of stunned so I know I mumbled something but she gets out, opens up her side door and hands me this basket.
Before I could even process it, the van is gone. Van and woman are gone, I can't even see them driving away anywhere. 

I'm not kidding you guys. 

Now, the basket didn't have anything amazing in it. It was mostly dollar store toys, some applesauce, a little bit of candy, and a $10 bill. Which is WEIRD, because I was going out to dinner with my friend Andrea that night and I was telling Matt I was going to borrow $10 from Olivia because I knew I wouldn't make it to the ATM before I went. 

Not only was there $10 in the basket, but my bill at the restaurant was only $7something so that $10 covered my meal completely. 

I don't believe in coincidences anymore but I'm not sure what all of this meant, but I do think something special happened to me that day.  

Obviously, Lucy is so cute, how could you NOT want to buy her anything she wants?! But I'm not kidding, she carries this bear everywhere since she got it. 

 So that's how my Christmas started. 

The next part takes place on Christmas Eve eve. We celebrated with my parents and my brother, sister in law, niece, and nephew- they drove from Appleton, so it was quite a trek for them. I'm kind of hoping this becomes a tradition because it was so great to see them, do presents and not feel like we had to rush to make a dinner or rush to my inlaws, it was just very laid back and really nice. 
 Lucy and Adriana played together SO well. Penelope and Adriana did, too but it's clear that Penelope is the ring leader and somehow convinces all the other kids to do bad things. Penelope would make a really great mob boss. Subtly gets everyone to do her bidding then stands back with her hands up saying, "I didn't do it, it's not MY fault they listened to me." That's Penelope. 
 Before we did presents, my sister in law was tending to my nephew (he's just a tiny baby!) so I led four kids in crafts. We made slime and we painted some cinnamon ornaments I had baked for them. I got a really great slime recipe from Penelope's teacher and it's just glue, baking soda, contact solution, food dye and glitter. Super easy, wasn't near as messy as stuff I've seen on Facebook, and it comes out almost like putty versus a thin slime that gets everywhere. Anyways. I did slime with four kids and I feel like that should be noted. 

I did have a bit of a panic attack when I heard my nephew cry. I had my putty so I was playing with that and doing my counting/breathing exercises but it was a good ten minutes before I could calm down and rejoin the group. I really hate, hate, HATE that I have a hard time with this. I really wanted to hold him but I didn't think I could and that really makes me sad. I feel like I'm missing something. 
 After craft extravaganza we did presents! 

Penelope was all about it, obviously. 
 Lucy really got into it, too! 
 Jackson got the Harry Potter Lego set he really wanted AND this cool watch that does fancy things that I don't know anything about. Olivia got Beats headphones because my mom spoils the kids and loves it. 

Penelope and Lucy got some cool things. Matt got these mats for his truck, those really expensive nice ones that customize to your actual vehicle. 
My mom got me these really nice pots and pans, and then all of this. I got that AMAZING navy purse from Duluth Pack, THESE wool socks which are so much better than I thought they'd be, the Michelle Obama book, a new shirt, and three ornaments- one with Penelope's name, one with Lucy's name, and one with all of our names. My mom always gets me the best stuff. 

On Christmas Eve we always go out to Matt's parents home to celebrate. I know a lot of people complain about going place to place, but I really don't mind. It kind of works out for us and I'd rather have three days of fun and presents instead of one huge day. This way I can pace myself and it works well for the little girls, too. 
 The big kids go to their Strand grandparent's home often so they enjoy taking up their spots and taking over the place. 
 Grandma and Penelope read Matt's favorite Christmas book when he was a kiddo. 
 Matt and Lucy snuggled as usual. 
 They have a hunting dog named Hank, who is a love bug. Penelope thinks he's GREAT because she tells people she can ride him. Which she definitely can't, but she's completely fascinated with such a big dog. 
 We had a great dinner and took the annual picture in front of the tree. 
 Then we opened presents. I remember I got a lot of books and a gift card, but I can't really remember what Matt or the little girls got. Lucy got this laptop and she furiously types on it, which was funny for us all. 

Oh! The big kids each got a gift... that I can't remember, but their big gift is that they are going to Universal Studios and Harry Potter World with Grandma and Auntie Kate over spring break. I'm kind of bummed we don't get to take them but they are so excited to go. They have both finished the series and that was the deal- the finish all of the books and then they can go. You should have seen Jackson reading large chunks of the books since the end of summer. He was so proud of himself. 
 Penelope wanted a picture with me before we left. 

We left just in time for bed but Penelope and Lucy were asleep before we got to the end of the driveway! 
 Once we got home I gave the kids their Christmas Eve present which is always pajamas and something else. This year the big kids got pajamas and robes (they outgrew theirs), the little girls got pajama sets, and everybody got a new blanket. Which, I'm kind of mad I didn't get myself one of these blankets because they are ridiculously soft. I got these blankets for a lot of people but didn't get myself one. Lame. 
And of course Santa came. 


Lisa said...

I love that 2 strangers stopped for you in the same trip! That's amazing!!

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

When we experience the kindness of strangers it can give us a lift and make us feel good and happy, I try to be the stranger who give people a life.

I spent Christmas Day with my parents, siblings and daughters oh of course my grandchildren.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas! That's really interesting that you had not one, but two random acts of kindness bestowed upon you. It's encouraging to know there are good people out there who want to do good for others. :)

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I love that random act of kindness story - and two in one day!! It sounds like you had a really nice Christmas, and that's good you are able to spread out the families on different days. Yay for some fun Christmas gifts. Yours will be in the mail sometime this month. LOL


mypixieblog said...

Awwww, what a beautiful sweet family you have, Sara. This post gave me so many goosebumps. The coincidences especially and people with their holiday cheer baskets and teddies. Seriously, where do you live?? It sounds like a Hallmark movie! Also I really can't with Lucy's pigtails. SO stinkin' adorable. And this totally made me snort: Penelope would make a really great mob boss.

Let me know what you think of Becoming. I got it for Christmas, too, and can't wait to read it!!!