1. I am very grateful that my husband and I had someplace to go this year for Thanksgiving. His graduate advisor invited us to her home and her parents made a delicious meal. Another professor and one of my husband’s lab mates who were unable to go home for the holiday were there as well. Although I would have made a simplified Thanksgiving dinner for David and me had we not been invited, I think that much of the spirit of the holiday would have been lost. Thanksgiving is not just about the food or even about gratitude; gathering together and sharing good company is an essential part as well. While we weren’t with family, we were with kind people and had several hours of wonderful conversation.
2. Last Saturday, we went to the Raleigh Christmas Parade. Usually I’m adverse to Christmas activities before Thanksgiving, but I had heard such good things about the parade and didn’t want to miss out. And I certainly was not disappointed! It was definitely the largest, longest, and most impressive parade I’ve ever attended. There were even a few balloons in the spirit of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (I heard from all the Raleigh natives sitting around us that it was the first year for these balloons, so they truly were a treat for all who attended). Here are a few pictures of some of my favorite parts of the parade:
3. The last several weeks, I have been very touched by all the kind gestures and comments by strangers. There’s something about a large pregnant belly that makes people go out of their way to help you! For example, at the parade, I was sitting on the curb on a blanket and several people around us offered to stand (for several hours!) so that I could sit in their chairs. I’ve never experienced so much consideration from complete strangers!
4. Speaking of a large pregnant belly, here is a picture David took of me last Sunday at 39 weeks:
5. I’ve heard a lot of negative comments this year about Black Friday and materialism. While I agree that some people go overboard (have you read about the shootings that have occurred today?) and that stores shouldn’t make their employees work ridiculous hours late at night or early in the morning, I do think that when you take the right attitude toward Black Friday, it’s not such a bad thing. The best Christmas present I ever received was a Kitchen Aid stand mixer that my parents could only afford because it was an amazing Black Friday deal. It’s such an amazingly useful gift and I’ll have that baby forever!
6. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how I want to approach Christmas with my children. Growing up, my brother and I always received a ridiculous amount of presents, especially from my grandparents. Of course, my grandparents gave this gifts out of love, but there were two negative consequences that came from it: 1) Christmas became all about the gifts, and 2) we had bedrooms overflowing with toys that we never played with. To address the first issue, I really hope to spend a lot of time with my kids celebrating Advent to prepare them for Christmas, and to institute Christ-centered Christmas activities. Even though I won’t need to worry about this for a few years until the baby is old enough to really participate, I’ve already begun to collect some ideas of how to do this since Advent was not something that was ever even discussed outside of Mass when I was growing up. Does your family have any great Advent or Christmas traditions that help them keep the focus of Christmas on Christ?
7. As for the overcrowding of unused toys, there is only so much I can do about that. Even just the thought of all that clutter makes me uneasy. Fortunately, my mom has already told me that she doesn’t want to go overboard like my grandparents did and plans to get less, more useful gifts for the baby. She also said that she will try to keep my grandparents under check and will give concrete ideas of Christmas presents to family that asks. That means I have to already have a Christmas list for the baby this year before he/she is even born! We have very few books for the baby, so I thought that would be a good, useful thing to ask for, as well as some very basic, classic (especially wooden) toys (even though the baby won’t be ready for toys for a while). Do you have any other ideas for gifts for a baby’s first Christmas? Here are a couple of my top choices: