“Home for the holidays.”
Last year was a first for our family – staying put in Western Washington to celebrate Christmas with just the six of us. This year, we chose to do the same thing. It’s a bittersweet decision because we miss seeing all of our extended family and spending this special time of year together with them. But then on the other hand, it is enjoyable to be in our own home and starting our own family traditions during this blessed season.
We spent the afternoon and evening of Christmas Eve together with my “sister from other parents” and her husband and two daughters. We cooked, played games, laughed, ate chocolate, chatted, enjoyed a delicious meal, exchanged gifts and read the Nativity. It was a simple and delightful time.
When we got home later in the evening, we opened our Christmas Eve package from Grandma and Grandpa. The kids loved their holiday Beanie Babies (Ari enjoyed his the next morning, he fell asleep on the car ride home). Randy appreciated the socks he got and I like the new kitchen towels and other items I received.
Before going to bed, Eli helped us get a plate ready for Santa. He wanted to give him 4 cookies since he is four years old. He was also insistent that we give something to Santa’s reindeer. He looked around the kitchen for some ideas. I suggested some carrots or a banana. After thinking for a minute, he matter-of-factly stated he wanted to leave a tomato for the reindeers. I love that kid (and tomatoes!). This is one of my new favorite pictures.
Keri surprised us with a hand crafted ornament she created from a sewing kit she had in her room. She knows how much I love nativities, so she sewed us our very own Baby Jesus ornament. Eli also has a fascination with Baby Jesus. Nearly all month long he went around singing the song “Baby in a Manger” which he was learning in Primary at Church. [Brief side note - Eli also thought that Baby Jesus really came to our Ward Christmas party. He really wanted to see him in the manger while Keri was playing Mary.]
Once the kids were all settled and asleep, and after I spent some time on the phone with some siblings, we got the house ready for Christmas morning. The holiday shopping is nearly always done by Halloween or Thanksgiving, but the wrapping is what is hard for me to stay on top of. It is challenging to do it in secret when your kids get older and stay up later. Thankfully we were able to get it done before Christmas Eve this year … just barely.
Here are the kids on Christmas morning. They were all up by about 8:00, though Ari had been up for awhile. [I forgot to get a picture of all of us together next to the tree. Hopefully I'll remember to do that next year.]
Before opening gifts, the kids first open their stockings.
We take turns opening presents, from youngest to oldest. I am surprised at how much Ari was into opening things! Our other kids could care less when they were this age about unwrapping things. Ari really enjoys throwing and kicking balls. He was thrilled with the gifts he got.
Eli has been very into super heroes and Star Wars lately.
Keri adores owls and really liked the new owl jewelry she received.
Cory has been obsessed with Pokemon for the last few months. Needless to say he was beyond ecstatic with the gifts he got. After opening a few of his gifts, all Pokemon related, he emphatically exclaimed with his arms thrown out, “I am going to explode with happiness!” He then said, “I am glad this is not just a dream.” He let us know, “It’s like my wish came true. I pretty much got all the Pokemon in the world.” It was fun to see him so excited!
After all the presents were opened, Keri stealthily put one more under the tree. A gift for me. I was very impressed with how secretive she kept this process from me. She and Randy dubbed it Operation Blackberry (because they met up to go shopping next to some blackberry bushes). She even wrapped it without me knowing about it. I love what she picked out for me. It is so sweet and tender and so appropriate since angels have been on my mind a lot this season. It proudly sits on our fireplace mantle.
One of the best Christmas miracles of the day was how well the kids got along – little to no bickering! That was one of the best presents ever.
Another funny quote came from Eli. He got some new Cars 2 underwear he has been coveting. When people ask how Christmas was, he likes to tell them, “I love my underwear.” [In fact he may or may not have unzipped his blanket sleeper when the missionaries stopped by later that day and showed them his new present .]
The kids enjoyed putting together Cory’s new bookshelf with their Dad. I really like how the books are now up off the floor. His room looks much nicer. [Eli is sporting his new Christmas Spiderman costume. He loves it, though he still desperately wants a Darth Vader costume.]
I think Eli sums it up best. At the end of opening our gifts he asserted, “That was a good Merry Christmas.”
[Note to self - Next year make sure you have at least *one* picture taken with you in it. Sheesh?! I guess I will throw a picture of me into the previous post just to document I was here this Christmas season .]