I’ve been ill and traveling extensively the last month, which was not a good combination. Now that I’m home, I’m still under the weather and severely jet lagged, making me wonder when and if I will ever feel “normal” again. Let me tell you, good health is not to be taken for granted…ever!
I’m sitting here at my laptop, organizing the photos from December, and reminiscing on the good times shared during the holidays with Mimi’s family and all my cousins. My mom is the eldest of 5, and started her family much earlier than her brothers. Thus, I have cousins whom are still between the ages of 12-15, and they visited from Puerto Rico over the Christmas holidays. Brianne and Bridgette were giddy with excitement to spend time with their young aunts and uncle, and prior to falling ill on Christmas, I planned a whole lot of activities for our troop to enjoy the festivities together!
Bridgette and I returned home from Okinawa the first week of December, and Mimi’s family was due to arrive two weeks after that, with my cousins following suit in just a few days. Needless to say, the planner in me was stressing out a bit on preparing the house for all our upcoming Christmas parties. My task list included buying and trimming our Christmas tree, decorating the house, booking restaurants for special dinners out, making reservations for specific activities that I wanted to do with kids, etc. etc….
Lucky for me, my sweet hubby decided to surprise us by “preparing” the house a bit while we were still in Asia. When he picked us up at the airport, he surprised us with flowers and gifts. He then took us home and made us close our eyes when we arrived, surprising us even more with the exterior of our home all dressed up in Christmas lights! Once we got inside the house, I was pampered with take-out sushi from one of our favorite local sushi joints…and then, the ultimate surprise– a lovely, fresh Christmas tree sat in our living room waiting to be trimmed!
I felt so grateful that he had already crossed off several big items on my to-do list, and honestly, I had no idea my hubby was capable of pulling off such great surprises! 🙂
We trimmed the tree a few days later, and as always, my favorite part was going through all the special ornaments together.
Prior to my cousins arriving to San Francisco, we did a special project with the girls this year to encourage them to open up their hearts to those who are less fortunate. Earlier in the year, I had read the biography of Michelle Knight. In it, she shared the period of time where she was homeless, and how the smallest gestures from kind people made a difference for her. What most people take for granted, like getting to brush our teeth at night, was a luxury for her. I shared the information with Bridgette and we discussed ways to help the homeless that winter. She had some great ideas, some of which were not very practical, but after a few brainstorming sessions, we put together a list of things that would be helpful to the homeless. When Brianne arrived, we collaborated to execute our plan!
We set a budget, and purchased items for 20 Christmas gift bags that we assembled together. Each bag had a pair of warm socks, hand warmers, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a nutrition bar, and a $10 Chipotle gift card.
We drove out to Union Square and allowed the girls to distribute the gift bags. Sadly, there were no shortage of homeless people in the area, and we distributed all the gift bags within a 4 block radius.
The girls felt good about spreading holiday cheer to others, and we were very proud of their efforts. Next year, I think we’ll have them handwrite some cards to include in the gift bags, which can be encouraging to people.
I’m not going to do a very thorough recap of all that we did during the last two weeks of the year because we simply did too much! Segway tours, Ride the Ducks city tour, bowling, ice skating, Rockin’ Jump, movies, laser tag…the list goes on. Finding activities that could entertain seven year olds, 12 year olds, and 15 year olds was quite challenging! We also spent a considerable amount of time at home playing board games like Taboo and Pictionary, which was just as fun, and made for some really good laughs. As exhausted as I was during those two weeks, I loved the memories that we made together every day.
Here are some of my favorite photos…..and a video recap!