It all started many, many years ago in a stable in Bethlehem.... well, I guess that's given ... let's fast forward to this year.
We invited our parents/the grandparents to have a sleepover on Christmas Eve and were so glad when they accepted the invitation. It is such a treat to have three generations under one roof to celebrate a holiday ... especially one as cherished as Christmas. Not long after everyone was here, the festivities began. And by "festivities", I mean Eric and his dad playing cribbage and the grandmothers diving in to any work that needed to be done! :)
One of our traditions for Christmas Eve is to have breakfast for dinner, and this year was no different. We had a breakfast casserole that a dear family friend/one of my adopted aunties gave to me years ago (thanks, Carolyn!) and my mom offered to bring the makings for the Pioneer Woman's apple dumplings, which she had recently had on two occasions and LOVED. (We were quick believers in the recipe upon first bites, too!!) After dinner, my mom and I packed up the kids and headed to church; due to the times of the mass schedules, we wound up at St. Luke Church and really liked the service. The fact that the priest made references to the movie "Elf" was a highlight for me! Come on! How much more in touch with the general population can you get during a homily than THAT??? After we returned from church, we did another family tradition of reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas" as a family, left out cookies and milk for Santa (as well as carrots for the reindeer), and then shuffled the kids off to bed. I adore the fact that the "Night Before Christmas" book we read from each year is the very book I read as a small child; in fact, I think it was probably my sister's book when she was a child. The book is tattered and well-read, but that adds to its appeal to me.
On Christmas morning, Annika, Eric and his parents were up before 6 AM (no surprise, considering Annika was practically exploding with anticipation the days leading up to Christmas... and Eric wasn't far behind her!). Before Annika "woke me up" at 6, I stayed in bed and listened to the sounds of our family tromping around above me ... all was right in the world, and yet, I still wasn't quite part of it... I was more of a silent observer for just a few moments. As soon as Annika and Eric popped through the door, Christmas was in full tilt! I barely made it upstairs before Eric and Conor made an appearance in the kitchen and I could tell from Eric's sheepish look that he woke up Conor... oh those kids (even the grownup ones) and their Christmas enthusiasm. After the kids woke up my mom, the presents opening began.
Our kids do a lot to entertain us on a fairly regular basis, but Christmas took that entertainment to a new high. Annika and Conor's faces were alight with the thrill that is a tree brimming with presents.... and knowing many were for them. We did force them (evil parents that we are) to open their stockings before commencing with the tree presents. Once we gave the green light for the presents, the kids opened their presents from Santa. Annika received the remote control helicopter that she'd been longing for, and watching her open it and realize what the package contained made my heart leap with happiness. Conor liked his remote control pick up truck from Santa, but felt a wee bit disappointed that he didn't get a helicopter, too. (He needs a few more years and better gross motor skills before he can have one, Santa decided after receiving the shipment!) Thank you to EVERYONE who was responsible for a gift (or gifts) under our tree!! Your generosity was beyond touching ... in fact, it was overwhelming at times. (Yes, I did tear up when I saw that Santa gave me my own Muppet... I'm not ashamed to admit it!) :)
After the presents were unwrapped and the living room floor was (mostly) cleared of the shreds of wrapping paper, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast of our family's traditional Christmas breakfast casserole (cleverly called "Christmas Breakfast" ... a special thanks to Eric's mom for making it!!) and some tasty, albeit not fluffy enough, cinnamon rolls made by yours truly.
In the early afternoon, my brother and his family joined us at our house for more festivities and (probably more importantly) our prime rib Christmas dinner. There were stories, jokes (thanks, Dad for your joke about the guy who sold the fishing supplies!), laughter (much due to the fishing joke), and silliness ... all the perfect definition of a fun holiday. We told stories of "back in the day" that stemmed from both sides of the family; I love that over the years, Eric's side of the family and my side of the family have really become one. Not only does it make holidays easier and more enjoyable, but it reinforces for our children that they have an enormous support network filled with kind, loving hearts ... no matter which direction they turn.
To everyone (both near and far) who made our Christmas special: Thank you, we love you, and hope you enjoyed your Christmas!
|As I took photos of my Christmas cookies, Eric's dad decided he needed one. Talk about getting caught red handed!!|
|The grandmothers conquering the apple dumpling process (notice how I stayed out of it and just took photos?? No dummy am I!)|
|Eric and his dad playing cribbage|
|Reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas"|
|Annika opening her slippers|
|Conor opening his slippers|
|Annika realizing she actually received a remote control helicopter|
|Conor enjoying the view from his kaleidoscope|
|Eric's brother and sister-in-law gave the kids the cutest animal hats ... great for cold weather and dress up!!|
|Annika modeling her elephant hat|
|My very own Muppet, who I lovingly named Wilson!|