We spent the weeks leading up to Christmas with lots of fun holiday activities, including the kids' school Advent concert, decorating the house, going to the zoo lights display at Woodland Park Zoo, sending our Christmas cards, visiting with Santa, and more.
On Christmas Eve, Eric's parents arrived for their annual Christmas Eve sleep over at our house. We love having them, here as part of our Christmas Eve traditions... and I'm pretty sure they can recite much of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" thanks to our annual reading of the classic. The kids and I (mostly I) thought we were really smart by planning on attending 4 o'clock mass at St. John's on Christmas Eve ... not so much. There was standing room only... standing room in the vestibule. As I explained to Annika and Conor, Mary and Joseph didn't expect to spend the night in a stable (let alone give birth to Jesus there) and we didn't expect to spend mass in the vestibule. Adaptation is the name of the game. We roll with it. Fr. Crispin at St. John's is marvelous and kept a steady pace to mass while maintaining reverence for the significance of the day.
After mass, we returned home to prepare our traditional Christmas Eve dinner .... breakfast. This year, we opted for Conor's favorite meal: Eggs Benedict. OK, it is my favorite, too. It must run in the genes! Following dinner, we read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and tucked the kids into bed. It is the only day of the year that they look forward to bedtime and neither kiddo stalls. It's a lovely thing!
Conor was up at 6 on Christmas morning. Most people would groan thinking about waking up at 6, but that's par for the course for Conor, so we're used to it. Eric tried to wake up Annika at 6:30 (Conor kept asking about opening presents), but she very tiredly asked for more time to sleep. We let her go until 7:15... it was either wake her up or watch Conor spontaneously combust. Once Annika had a chance to wipe the sleep out of her eyes, the chaos ensued. We were under an avalanche of wrapping paper and bows within seconds. Everyone ooh' and ahh'd at the generous gifts we received and marveled at the energy that the kids had at such an early hour.
After we opened the stocking and tree presents, we devoured the traditional Olson family Christmas breakfast casserole ... aptly called "Christmas Breakfast" and caught our breath before the Nelson/Baker side of the family arrived.
My brother and his family very generously offered to bring prime rib over for Christmas dinner... seriously, who says no to that??? They arrived a bit before noon and immediately began cooking dinner. (Again, who can complain about being the host and only needing to prep a couple of side dishes?)
After a few hours of merriment, which included loud stories, selfies, present opening, and a Skype call with our brother in Bahrain, we sat down to an incredible Christmas dinner as a family... a loud, rippled, loved family.
As I looked around the table that night, I was reminded how blessed we truly are. We have a wonderful family who loves us. We laugh together ... cry together ... support each other ... work together ... and celebrate together. What more could anyone ask for than that??
A belated Merry Christmas to everyone ... and wishes for a blessed, joyous, and laughter-filled 2015.
|Before the chaos|
|Conor sporting his new Seahawks hat|
|Conor inspecting his new remote control helicopter|
|Annika showing off her new ballet shoes/outfit|
|Happy Christmas girl|
|Annika modeling her new hat|
|Who's this fancy girl?|
|Conor making his new Lightning McQueen car fly|