Christmas this year was pretty much perfect. I had a week of vacation before the holiday weekend which gave me plenty of time for all the preparations without feeling stressed. I also didn't get stressed at all because I didn't let myself get stressed at all. I was determined to have an easy, smooth, relaxing holiday weekend. And it was.
Monday I finished my shopping and didn't even mind standing in line which I only had to do a few times. Besides that, waiting in line is a perfect time to watch people, one of my favorite past times. Tuesday I cleaned house and played with the kids. Wednesday I wrapped presents and played some more. Thursday Arrty and I split up the kids and took them shopping. Adam chose to spend his own money on a gift for me. He was determined to get me something perfect. (And he did. The new Lady Antebellum cd which I love! He's a very thoughtful kid.) Then Thursday night I watched Christmas movies with some of my favorite girls who could hardly believe that it was my first time seeing "A Christmas Story." (Thanks, Katrina.) Friday was spent making goodies (lemon bars, cream cheese drops, fudge, chocolate covered pretzels), finishing up the wrapping, and making a pre-Christmas dinner (ham, augratin potatoes, green beans, apple asiago bread). And all that was done with very minimal, if any stress. Aaahhh.
Saturday we went over to Mom and Dad's house for lunch (West Virginia sandwiches, homemade fries, and cookies for dessert). Then we opened our traditional Christmas Eve gift--pajamas. Since we were getting ready to go to church, the kids held their pajamas in front of them instead of wearing them in the annual "jammies in front of the tree" picture. Then we went with the family to their church's Christmas Eve service. It was nice to get to sing and worship with Mom, Dad, and my sister and her family. Then we went back to Mom and Dad's for cookies and tea. Then to our congregation's first annual Christmas Eve service. It was lovely. I enjoyed it very much. After all that, it was still before 6:00, so Arrty drove us around town to see Christmas lights. There were lots of great displays, but my favorite was the one in a local neighborhood that played to music on the radio. It was very entertaining. Then we headed home for snacks and animated Christmas movies. It was a great day.
Sunday morning we got up early and opened stockings and presents. The kids were thrilled and that means I was, too. This was the first year Julianna has really been able to participate in the whole process. It was so fun watching her open presents and appreciate each one. She was laughing and jumping and absolutely loved every minute! It was different this year with the boys. They are at an age where they've kind of outgrown most toys. So they got video games, movies, and books. Which they liked a lot, but I so missed the scattering of Transformers and Legos and Matchbox cars. But I did enjoy the scattering of Barbies, Littlest Pet Shop and Fur Real pets. After presents we ate egg nog french toast and ham. (Yes, I made egg nog french toast.) Then we all got ready and headed into town for church services. (That made three times to church in two days. The kids were a little overwhelmed with that prospect when we told them the plans for the weekend. And, honestly, I was, too. But it turned out to be such a blessing. It was a great way to keep Jesus at the center of the holiday.)
After church, we went back to Mom and Dad's. We had lasagna, salad, and Ada's homemade bread sticks for lunch. Even though some people around the table thought it was a weird Christmas meal, I loved it. It was simple and yummy. After a record breaking fast clean up, we all gathered in the moose room to open presents. Dad and Mom had a special treat in store for us. They had planned to share a childhood Christmas memory with us. As they told their stories, the room was silent as all eyes and ears were on Grandma and Pappy. Their stories were wonderful and will make for a good blog post someday. Ada had suggested that we open gifts one at a time so everyone could see what everyone else got instead of a free-for-all like last year. So we went around the room from youngest to oldest and opened gifts. It went amazingly smoothly and even Julianna and Abby were very patient while waiting their turn. Only one gift was opened out of turn when one of Dad's "fell off" the couch and mysteriously came open. It was all very suspicious, if you ask me. It took awhile for 6 adults and 6 kids to open several gifts each, but it was well worth it to see the faces on all the recipients as they opened their gifts. Every one was happy and overwhelmed with all the gifts...especially when we had a $10 limit for the grown ups. (Amazingly, we all won, earned, or were given things that we gave to others in the family...books, gift cards, movies, and I even got a beach blanket and umbrella from mom. The creativity of sticking to this new limit was one of my favorite parts of the day.) After we picked up all the paper and boxes, the boys took their new air-soft guns outside to shoot, Abby vacuumed with her new mini pink vacuum, Julianna got all dressed up in her new princess dress up clothes, and Asher watched it all looking adorable as usual. After a little more clean-up and visiting we headed home.
Christmas night we watched movies and played and just kind of soaked it all in. It was an amazing weekend. So peaceful and full of love. And so full of Jesus. Just as it should be. A lot of Jesus and a lot of family with a few gifts and some really good food thrown in for good measure. Hope yours was just as merry.