In NZ, it's not Merry Christmas, it's Happy Christmas. And as the seasons are opposite, it's now summer here, so when we wore our velvet and wool to church for Christmas mass, everyone else was in shorts and sundresses. And there is just nothing like hearing the Kiwi Christmas Carol on the radio; I'm sure if you're from here it's a nice tune, but we certainly didn't develop a full appreciation for it.
But it was Lilly's third Christmas of her life, so we were excited. She had officially turned 2 and a half 5 days before Christmas, so we were excited about her first Christmas that she would actually understand a little more about what was going on. For the first time, Santa didn't just wrap up some of her old toys; Santa decided that, since Lilly was such a good girl, and was living in a random foreign country, that Lilly needed to get some things she'd really like. Oh, and Santa also likes Lilly to celebrate Hanukkah as well, so for the few days before Christmas Lilly started getting her eight days of gifts. Including, a small basketball hoop, the High School Musical 3 sountrack, and on Christmas morning, a tricycle.
Lilly also loved our Christmas tree, which was 3 feet tall and decorated with cheap ornaments from Warehouse (the KMart type store). Except, we bought ornaments that look like presents, and so Lilly methodically removed each one, and disappeared into the closet with it. She'd unwrap it carefully, find only styrophome inside, and go back to the tree for another one. By Christmas day, there was only one ornament left: the one that we brought from the US that she couldn't destroy.
Although Lilly didn't fully appreciate everything about the holiday season, she got to know Santa pretty well. She met him about 4 times this year, through different Christmas parties, and of course, the mall. She wasn't impressed each time, but once he gave her a piece of candy or a present, her face transformed and she started smiling and waving, and frankly, flirting with him. This girl knows who to be nice to. A few days before Christmas, when Lilly and I were wandering around the mall, we saw Santa in his chair and we started walking by him. I slowed down for a minute to point him out, and we were about to move on again, when all of a sudden Santa Clause himself got up from his post and ran across the busy mall to say hi to my little girl. And give her 10 pieces of chocolate. It was truly magical; does this type of thing happen to everyone? Lilly absolutely loved the attention, and blew him a million kisses in thanks.
Yet, Lilly also grew a great appreciates the Hanukkah rituals. She was absolutely thrilled with the idea of the Menorah, and singing the song for lighting the candles. But I must admit, after we lit them, she tried to blow them out, and then made us sing "Happy Birthday" a few times. So, it's a little confusing to a toddler who loves celebrating birthdays.
After all the buildup of teaching Lilly about Hanukkah and Christmas, about Santa and Jesus, and a mention of Hanukkah Harry, after opening our advent calendars of chocolate for twenty-odd days (Lilly's was High School Musical, while Jon and I had Santa calendars), we were excited as it grew closer to Christmas day. Until... 3 days before Christmas, Lilly got a horrible stomach bug. And it went strong for about a week. So, Lilly was feeling horrible and her parents were exhausted. But Lilly still managed to put out cookies and milk for Santa (and carrots for his reindeer); but being Lilly, she also swiped a cookie for herself. :)
She's back to 100% now though, although she's now getting over a case of pink eye. And she still had an great time between Christmas and New Year's. Her cousins Lyndsey and Julianne were in town with my sister Colleen (more about their vacation here later), and Lilly loved spending time with them. But we missed out on taking amazing holiday pictures because Miss Lilly Lou was under the weather.
Anyways, we wish you all a "Happy" Christmas, and Happy New Year.