By Suzanne Cox
This past week marked the First Anniversary of us moving to the farm. This is the first year in our eight years of marriage that we have been in our own home on our own land for the holidays. That alone would be enough to celebrate! We added a new addition to the family this year as well. Cierra Leann was born in October, our second daughter and third child. This year has also had it’s share of troubles. From sheep having foot rot and our escape artist bull, to Andrew being laid off for eight months and me being hospitalized with a bacterial infection, we have certainly had our far share of difficulties. Yet here we are, ready to celebrate the birth of our dear Lord as a family of five for the first time. Christmas time heralds in a whole new list of opportunities to build memories as a family, and this year we took full advantage of them!
For the last few years we have decorated gingerbread houses with the kids. Now, I am really not a great gingerbread artist, luckily that doesn’t seem to matter to the kids! Once I get the structure put together and icing spread, they take over the decorating. Last year, we bought a house kit that unfortunately was stale. The gingerbread was hard as a rock and completely inedible, but it stayed together perfectly!
This year, I made sure to buy a fresh kit. I found one shaped like a barn with candy animals and knew that was the perfect one for us this year. We got out all of our supplies and decorating candy, opened the box, and began assembling the walls and roof. Well the first thing I noticed was how soft the gingerbread was. The second thing I noticed was how extra firm the icing seemed to be. I was thinking to myself that may not be a good combination.
We got the structure together and I began to ice the roof for decorating. However as I iced, the roof shingles began to buckle. So I propped them up with a cup underneath and continued. Unfortunately, the roof continued to buckle around the cup and then collapsed.
As I tried to repair the damage, one of the walls fell off! Well as soon as the wall went so did the whole front of the barn. It looked like our poor barn had been hit by one heck of a tornado! I was sure the kids would be upset. Then Macey, in her usual fashion came to the rescue. “It’s ok, Mommy, we can make gingerbread cookies!” And so this years gingerbread barn decorating event came to an end!
Now, what would the holidays be without the scent of freshly baked cookies? From Thanksgiving to Christmas the kids and I bake cookies once a week. We do all of our favorites: oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip, cinnamon apple, snicker doodles, peanut butter, and sugar cookies. This year, we had to also try gingerbread cookies because William said, “Mommy crashed the gingerbread barn!”
For our first time doing gingerbread cookies, I think things went pretty well! I prepared the dough and rolled it out. Then I let the kids pick their favorite cookie cutters and cut the cookies themselves. We had gingerbread men, candy canes, and angels. The angels ended up looking more like ghosts though. Andrew came home right as we got started decorating. Before I knew it, he had sat down with us and grabbed a decorating bag!
By the end of the night, all of our cookies were decorated, both kids were covered in red and green frosting, and our bellies were full of gingerbread. There were very few survivors left on our cooling rack!
One of my favorite holiday traditions is Christmas lights. I just love decorating our home for Christmas and driving around to look at others lights. This year, we were so busy with the farm and the new baby that we didn’t get any lights put up outside. Every year though we take the kids out the week of Christmas and look for the house with the best holiday light display. This year, we were surprised that the best ones we found were only two doors down! As an extra surprise, Andrew and I decided to take all the kids to the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. They are known for both their amazing holiday light display and all of their holiday spectacular activities.
Sunday we started out early and headed to Nashville. The kids were so excited, Shrek and all his friends were supposed to be there to do a musical show!
Macey and William took in the show while Cierra and I hung out in the atrium. It didn’t take us long to discover that while Opryland’s hustle and bustle was great fun for older kids, babies … not so much! She thought Shrek was terrifying, but was a happy girl as long as Mommy stayed near the waterfall.
After the show we all walked around admiring the lights on display. Opryland puts up so many lights for the holidays they have to start decorating in August! The inside of the hotel is just amazing. The kids couldn’t believe that they were actually inside, and so was the river!
Once we finished our walk through inside, it was time to head outdoors to view the narrated nativity and more Christmas lights. We had time for one more picture though!
While the kids loved seeing all of the lights and cartoon characters indoors, I enjoyed the large narrated nativities outdoors. When we were done with our Opryland adventure, we hit the back roads coming home to once again scout for Christmas lights. Only problem was, the kids fell asleep before we got off of the hotel grounds!
So, Andrew and I enjoyed the lights on the drive back, while all three kids slept quietly in the back seat. We were all tired when we finally arrived home that night, but it sure was fun!
Now here we are, just a few short days until Christmas. Time seems to fly between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we try to get in as much family time and fun as possible! This weekend will be spent with all of our extended family, and then we will be facing a new year. We are hoping the new year brings as much joy as we have experienced in this one, only perhaps with a few less complications!
May your holiday experiences be as memorable and fun as ours. Take the time to slow down and enjoy the little things, even when your barn collapses. And most importantly, always remember the true reason for the season has nothing to do with the gifts found under the tree. Merry Christmas from all of us here at ANS Farms!
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