Stunningly, all of our Christmas prep is behind us and we find ourselves reflecting on another blessed holiday that was filled with family and friends.
Christmas Eve was filled with last-minute Christmas prep, 4:00 mass at St. John (we even got seats this year!), breakfast for dinner (we do this every year - keeps things so much simpler!), reading "Twas the Night Before Christmas (another Olson Four Christmas Eve tradition), and leaving out cookies/milk for Santa and a couple of carrots for the reindeer. One highlight for the kids was receiving official notification in the mail that they were on Santa's Good list - whew!!! Both kids received certificates and personalized letters from Santa ... and couldn't have been more excited if they tried!
|He's officially on the Good list - what a relief!|
|Nothing like making it official|
|Ready for our North Pole visitors|
Unlike some years, this was a day we looked at as very flexible, not knowing who would be at our house and for how long. In the past, we've had a set approach to the day, but this year, we know Eric's dad was still recovering from his recent back surgery, so we didn't know how long they'd stick around (or if they'd make it at all... even with Eric's mom's instance that they'd be here.) My brother and his family were trying to make plans around his in-law family's schedules, so we weren't completely sure if/when they'd be here, either. In times like these, we set ourselves up to adapt and it all worked out!
Eric's parents arrived around 6:30, to ensure they were here before the kids awoke. Upon their arrival, we popped the traditional Christmas breakfast casserole in the oven (I'll pause here for the collective "oh, man, is that stuff ever tasty" response) and then sipped on some much-needed coffee and played a few hands of cards while we waited for the munchkins to wake up.
A few minutes before 7, the kids rolled out of bed and were raring to go!! They were very excited to see what Santa left for them and to open the gifts under the tree that had been tantalizing them for the past week. Before we knew it, paper was flying, smiles were cropping up everywhere, and we were (once again) reminded at how fortunate we are.
|A little Christmas family hug session|
|Conor admiring his gifts|
|Lookin' good, Bestefar!|
|Co Christmas is complete without a pirate beard!|
|Someone got the Smencils she was hoping for|
|A power washer for Eric|
|Any guesses what they're talking about?|
|Proof that Santa exists - she got the gift she asked him for|
|Conor giving a gift to Bestefar|
|That is one happy boy!|
|Bestemor and Bestefar|
|Buca watching the festivities from behind the furniture barricade|
|Checking out his new video game|
|This was the view we had of the kids for much of the day - those Nintendos were a hit!|
|Buca is about to start singing "Les Mis" in hopes the barricade will fall|
After we finished unwrapping presents, we enjoyed a lovely breakfast and some more games. (Yes, we Olsons do play a lot of card and dice games ... I think we're legally or genetically bound to!)
Because Eric's dad is still on the road to recovery, they weren't able to stick around much past 10:30, which was completely understandable. We were so grateful to have had them here with us... even it it wasn't for all day.
The Olson Four took a little time to clean up the house and catch our breath before opening our doors to the masses at 1. Our friend Nicole was the first to arrive. It was fun to catch up with Nicole, who has become one of our Christmas regulars and we couldn't be happier about that fact. She regales us with stories of her travels, adventures, and work. She is a true gem and incredibly generous with her time. Soon after, Eric's friend Dave arrived, bringing more merriment and fun stories to share. Around 3, my brother (Troy) and his family were knocking at our door, ready for Christmas dinner and some Olson-style fun.
We had ham, rolls, twice-baked potatoes, and salad for dinner. With no tummies left behind, we followed that up with a crazy amount of cookies for dessert. Yes, we are still full!! There was a typical amount of chaos and noise, but it wouldn't be a true holiday without those pieces, if you want my opinion!
|Ian and Eric in deep conversation|
|Merry Christmas, Uncle Dave!|
|Uncle Dave cutting loose|
|Kat thinks we're all a bunch of nuts ... but entertaining nuts!|
|Kat is keeping her eye on all of us crazy people|
|Troy is a ham!|
|Staci and her krumkake|
|In case you needed more proof of his ham-ness!|
|Ian and Conor playing Legos together |
(no surprises there!)