A Family Christmas
I'm BACK! Over Christmas, I took a tiny, unexpected break from new posts, social media, and the like to focus on family and soaking in as much of the holiday spirit as I could before it disappeared. My older sister, niece, and nephew flew home to Maryland - I hadn't seen them since last Thanksgiving which, truly, should be a crime in itself. Because they were only going to be home for a few days before heading back to Arizona, my whole family took off work and I organized our very first family photo shoot (ever) *gasp.
It turns out that organizing a holiday-themed photo shoot for 8 people (including toddlers) is a lot more challenging than one would guess. By no means did we have a large budget for choosing or coordinating our outfits but, we totally made it work in the short time frame that we had. Most importantly, we had so much fun during this session. Since Sam and I have gotten pretty comfortable shooting for the blog (especially in front of a crowd #citylife), my family had a ball poking fun at us and using expressions like "cheek to cheek, forehead to forehead" and laughing hysterically through the whole thing.
On Friday, we ventured out to Mount Airy in Western Maryland to Gaver’s Tree Farm and it was even dreamier than I had imagined. As a family that generally uses an artificial tree during the holidays, it was a nice change to smell the fresh pine and run through rows of fresh, pretty trees. It was the perfect way to jump start the holiday weekend and get in the spirit.
Family is truly the most important thing to Sam and I (fun fact: Sam's parents live 4 streets down from us). This year, Sam and I proposed a small shift in the way that Christmas was celebrated: we didn't want the holiday to be focused so heavily on gift-giving (naturally). So, we created a gift-ban on my side of the family - one that was inevitably broken after a lot of sneaking around.
Although it didn't entirely alter our gift traditions, I have to say that it helped significantly in the overall feeling of the holidays. For the first time, I didn't feel that anyone was stressed out about what to buy each other, or frantically running to the store on Christmas Eve to finish shopping. I focused on mainly non-profit items (like Half United and Love Your Melon) and sentimental gifts (like photo frames or albums) for my family. It felt so much more special.
In place of gifts, we focused more on decorating gingerbread houses (v. important), watching old home movies, late night dance parties in the living room, and rounded out the long weekend by hiking our favorite, local mountain all together. I must have said to Sam at least a dozen times that this Christmas had been my favorite yet.