Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Or Two.

merry-christmasA couple of weeks ago, as we were preparing to take down the Christmas tree, Jack turned to me with his big cheeks and puppy dog eyes and said, “Don’t take Christmas!” I gently explained that Christmastime was over (“Why?” “Because it’s January.” “Why?” “Because January comes after December?” “Why?”) and that we would get to have a tree and all the decorations again next year. Jack’s next query? “But can we keep the presents?”

There was an abundance of presents this year. You might even say there was an OVERabundance of presents. They didn’t ask for much. A doggie, a Milo, and a purple baby, to be exact, so when all is said and done, we could have had a much “simpler” Christmas, I am sure. But along with the stuffed animals, the costumes, the train set, and the pirate ship (more on that later), came family. An abundance of family, you might say. Henry, Jack, and Sophie get to do Christmas twice (and yes, that means more presents). But it also means two “Christmas Eves” with carols and Christmas jammies. And two Christmas mornings with bacon and stockings.

And two sets of grandparents, eight aunts and uncles (even if some were only there via FaceTime), dozens of cousins, great aunts, and great uncles, and one great grandma.

At dinner on Christmas night, Ann asked, “What was your favorite gift you ever received?” One of my sixth-graders had asked me this at the lunch table a few days before, so I was prepared. But honestly, I couldn’t remember a single gift I’d ever gotten for Christmas. (I went with the Playmobil dollhouse mansion which was a birthday present, if I recall correctly). And I wasn’t the only one who came up short. (I won’t tell you what Will’s most “memorable” present was. Hint: It was NOT his favorite.) And I know it is not because we’ve never received anything worth remembering. It’s just because our Christmas memories are shaped more by our traditions and the people we fill the holiday with than they are by the gifts we receive.

So this Christmas, while searching for gifts from Santa was a new (and popular) pastime, it was the time spent with family we will all remember:

Standing outside in our pajamas the weekend after Thanksgiving to see the trees on our street light up.

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Prettiest block in Manhattan!

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We should probably invest in a Selfie Stick. And some better lighting 🙂

Stopping by Operation Santa at Buckley help wrap presents for kids who are not as fortunate as we are to celebrate Christmas in such a big way.

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Please excuse the blurry photo…it was a no nap sort of day!

 Moving aside all the toys we already own to make room for a big tree in the corner (this was Jack’s idea AND his job). Riding in the red wagon to pick out our tree from the tree stand on the corner. Don’t ask us how much it cost. Actually, do. It was hilariously expensive. Taking a trip to the hardware store to pick out a star for the top (and finding a bunch of other fun Christmas paraphernalia in the process…cookie cutters topped the list). Opening the box full of Daddy’s ornaments that Grammie sent (and in many cases, that Grandma and Grandpa made). Decorating our tree while Alexa (read: Pentatonix) sang PTX Christmas Deluxe Edition on repeat in the background.

Making gingerbread cookies and realizing afterwards that despite triple-checking all ingredients, Sophie was probably allergic to something in the sprinkles, and we couldn’t eat the rest of them. Have any of you ever tried to make gingerbread cookies with a two year old? How about with three? Hello, mess! Can you guess whose plate is whose?

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This is the closest I could get to an “action” shot. It looks pretty contained at this point, but don’t be fooled. At one point, I was helping Sophie wash her hands in the bathroom sink (she still can’t reach), and Henry came running in “to get some more paper towels!” As he ran out, he said something like, “I made a mess, but I’m just cleaning it for you. I’m just cleaning it.” I found him in the kitchen, on a stool, cleaning up (re:spreading) the green food coloring off the cutting board. And muttering to himself, “It’s just a little mess. I’m cleaning it. I’m cleaning it.”

Searching each morning for Meatball, the Elf. He even made it to Nana and Grumples’ house!

Sure, one Christmas will fade into the next, and there will come a day when we’ll all ask each other, “Was that the year that it snowed? Did Peter and Jen make it that Christmas? Was that when Grammie’s Folly first arrived? And sure, we will probably remember this Christmas as the one that ended with one sleepless night and one stomach bug (not the same child either, so yeah, that was fun). But we will mostly remember it as the fun, festive, and family-filled few days we hope that Christmas will always be. And as we took down the tree, we talked about all the things we were going to miss until next Christmas rolled around. In the meantime, we’ve got a bunch of new toys to play with 🙂

Some highlights from under the tree(s):

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Christmas Round ONE

 

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Christmas Round TWO.

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THIS is Grammie’s Folly.

Get ready for STRUM: The Remix. Album coming soon.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this Christmas a memorable one for Henry, Jack, and Sophie. As we took the ornaments down Jack bid them farewell, exclaiming, “Goodbye, ornaments! See you next Christmas!” before giving each one a kiss and laying it in the box. I know we have approximately 345 days to go, but I can’t wait to see his face light up when we open that bin again next year.

 

 

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas…

On the first day of Christmas, Nana gave to me (us), kitchen that’s perfect for three.

On the second day of Christmas, Grammie gave to me (us) two tables with chairs…

..and our kitchen that’s perfect for three.

In the interest of time (mine and yours), I’ll skip to the end and work backwards.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my family gave to me…

Twelve carolers caroling

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(nine adults not pictured)

Eleven juicy gumdrops

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Ten molars piercing

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Nine Christmas cookies

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We only just discovered cookies of any kind. It’s our new favorite word, and we’re pretty sure it has at least eleven o’s (“coooooooooookie”)! This is what a toddler looks like on Christmas cookies. They should consume at their parents’ own risk. 

Eight planes and ‘copters

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Seven hours opening presents*

Round 1: Stockings

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Reaching inside and pulling something (anything) out was more exiting than the presents themselves. It didn’t matter whose stocking it was or whether or not they’d already pulled out that fake waffle before. 

Round Two: Under the Tree

Round Three (post-nap): Things that didn’t fit under the tree/things we were too cranky/tired/hungry to open before lunch.

Round Four: Ready for bed and we still had presents left to open

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Laptops!

* The seven hours is legit, but it includes nine adults opening presents during naptime and a half an hour or so of presents at Baba’s on Christmas Eve.

Six(teen) hundred feet climbed

Five forehead stitches!

Four celebrations

  • with Nana and Grumples
  • with Baba and her crew

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  • with (great) Grandma and her crew

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We discovered (great) Grandma’s room shortly before we left and shortly after our second helping of sugar cookies. 

 

  • with Grammie, Nonno and the Strumolo aunts and uncles

Three mini scooters

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Two tables with chairs

…and a kitchen that’s perfect for three.

Phew. What a day (week? two weeks?)! Christmas is hands-down my favorite holiday, but it is made triply more enjoyable by the presence of these three kiddos. I can’t wait until next year!

 

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Family Time:

For the trips’ first Christmas, we made a pre-Christmas visit to Nana and Grumples’ in Long Island, where we saw Baba (great-grandma), Bumbie (great-aunt), Courtney (first cousin once removed), and a few other friends.

Will had to work in the city, so we made plans to FaceTime Monday night.

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FaceTiming with three nearly nine-month- (six-month?) olds is a bit of a logistical challenge. It sure is entertaining, though! Sophie clearly missed her dad.

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At Nana and Grumples’ the trips also tried out their booster seats. Who said feeding three babies at once was hard?

On Christmas Eve Day, we said goodbye to Nana and Grumples (who were gearing up to go meet their newest grandchild, arriving any moment now in D.C.!) and piled back in the van. It was off to Connecticut to see Grammie and Nonno. The trips are in the midst of their “stranger anxiety” phase, which made these two trips to see the grandparents a little bit difficult at first. Nothing like your grandchild wailing in your face to say, “I missed you! Thanks for having us!” But in both instances, Henry, Jack, and Sophie quickly adapted and remembered, “Oh, right. I DO know you! And I love you!” Soon enough they were rolling about on the floor in Norfolk too.

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Celebrations:

This Christmas was a bit different than Christmases past. For one, we were all operating around the babies’ schedule. That meant everyone had to be up and ready for stockings before 8am, breakfast had to be made and eaten during their morning nap, and we needed to finish up under the tree in time for their 1pm nap. All went off without a hitch! How grateful we are to have such obliging aunts, uncles, and grandparents! Parents of multiples will be particularly impressed that we managed to stay on schedule despite the joyous chaos of Christmas celebrations. Our nanny will surely appreciate this as well!

Photo Shoots:

First, in our Christmas jammies

Then, all dressed up in our holiday best!

And with the help of Aunt Lizzie, Grammie, and Nonno, a (nearly) full group shot with a self-timer. I think we are all looking at the camera. Success!

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Gifts:

For better or for worse, Christmas is a season of giving, and Henry, Jack, and Sophie are lucky to have many thoughtful and generous friends and family. To be honest, Henry, Jack, and Sophie (and by proxy, their grateful parents) have been blessed with an outpouring of gifts since the news of their impending arrival went public a year ago. Countless meals delivered to our doorstep; free rides to and from the hospital for the two plus months the babies spent there; piles of clothes, diapers, and bibs; high chairs, cribs, strollers, swings, and a number of other baby depositories and paraphernalia; free babysitting while Will and I went off to a movie, Christmas shopping, an Anniversary dinner; the list goes on and on. I am not sure I can ever thank all of those people enough, but I do hope that this blog and periodic visits with Henry, Jack, and Sophie, bring a bit of joy to the lives of those generous souls if ever my thank yous have fallen short.

This Christmas, it was all about TOYS. It seems appropriate, both given the spirit of the holiday and the fact that on the cusp of their nine month birthday, these babies are really starting to PLAY. It will never cease to amaze me when they “find something” or “figure out” how something works. At this age (6 months adjusted), cause-and-effect toys are the most developmentally appropriate–anything that lights up, pops up, or makes noise when you touch it is bound to be a hit. Anything they can put in their mouths was also at the top of their list, along with books. Those they can “read” themselves, and those that will be read to them!

Here’s a snapshot of all the fun they’ve been having. Of course, the wrapping was just as exciting as what was inside, so we spent much of Christmas day pulling paper out of the the trips’ mouths. Nevertheless, these toys will last a long time, and the way they were attacking that wrapping paper, its days were surely numbered!

Henry, Jack, and Sophie received so many wonderful gifts, it would take too long to write about them all here, and I am certain you would grow bored (if you are not already)! But I will take a moment to venture off on a brief tangent about famous triplets. Bear with me. I will circle back to Christmas, I promise.

Famous Triplets

In addition to their own celebrity status here at henryjackandsophie.com, the Strumolo triplets are not the only famous triplets around. There’s Huey, Dewey, and Louie Duck, of course. Alvin, Theodore, and Simon Seville, and their Chipette counterparts, Brittany, Jeannette, and yes, Eleanor. The recent pandas in China. Chandler, Leslie, and Frank Jr. Jr. on “Friends.” But did you know that Babar had triplets?! Neither did we. In fact, I have yet to come across a person who DID remember that, despite the fact that we all read Babar as children. So how did we find out, you ask? Well, shortly after the trips’ six month birthday, their great-grandmother, Gee, presented them with this VERY special gift she found in London, featuring everybody’s favorite pachyderms!

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One, two, three cribs! Two blue and one pink! It is not widely known that Babar’s children are triplets, and in fact, a quick internet search of triplet characters does not reveal this trio anywhere. Still, if you can get your hands on a copy of Babar and his Children, you’ll find the birth story of their spontaneous triplet children, Pom, Alexander, and Flora. Babar and Celeste were surprised, to say the least! So how does this relate to Christmas? This long overdue mention of the very special print featuring Henry, Jack, and Sophie’s elephant counterparts? Well, as you’ll notice in the photos below, our trio received another special gift from Gee and Poppy this holiday: a 1940s lithograph print of Babar and Father Christmas, originally purchased by Henry, Jack, and Sophie’s great-great-grandmother and enjoyed by many generations of children over the last fifty years.

What a special first Christmas in so many ways. It’s true that Henry, Jack, and Sophie aren’t likely to remember it, but I know the rest of us surely will. And each year, when the chaos of the Christmas season starts to feel overwhelming, I hope we’ll remember this Christmas. Our first Christmas as a family. Because when you look past the rest of it (the holiday cards that never get sent on time; the hours spent packing, traveling, and unpacking again; the scrambling to find the perfect presents for everyone on your list; the racing around from one holiday party to the next) it’s really about family. The Christmas cookies don’t hurt either. Family and Christmas cookies. That’s why they call it the most wonderful time of the year.