This year I was more prepared for Christmas than I have been in previous years. It helped that Hubby and I decided that the kids would get 3 gifts each and some stocking stuffers. I chose the number 3 because I averaged their ages. However, someone in our MOPS meeting mentioned that her kids receive three gifts because Jesus received 3 gifts from the Magi and if 3 was good enough for Jesus, then it was good enough for her kids. She went on to say that her kids received something they wanted, something they needed, and one surprise gift. I love this idea and I think Hubby and I will work on giving just 3 gifts for future years. This idea was reinforced when the kids loved and were happy with their gifts and it made things a lot less overwhelming! My kids were also blessed with presents from both sides of our family and from family friends from church. More than enough gifts to go around. We also have an annual get together with my best friends from college and we look forward to getting together with them for Epiphany.
Not only were presents wrapped and ready to go for our Christmas Eve celebration at my SIL's house, but presents for our kids were wrapped and ready to go for Christmas. This was the first Christmas Eve where we didn't have a ton of wrapping to do and we were in bed before midnight! Christmas Eve was lovely. It was an annual tradition held by my husband's great-aunt. My sister-in-law picked up the tradition several years ago with a midday open house and it's been lovely. The cousins exchange gifts, the adults participate in a Yankee gift exchange, potluck/buffet is served, and we enjoy spending time together. Christmas is a lot less overwhelming and this affords my family the opportunity to celebrate Christmas with my husband's family and then to spend time with my family on Christmas day. It's a great compromise.
This year we did our annual cousin picture on Christmas Eve and it actually made things easier. We were all asked to arrive about 45 minutes earlier than the other guests. We did, the kids were cooperative for the picture (though Bananas scowled in every single take), and we managed to finish with 15 minutes to spare before extended family arrived. The cousin exchange was very organized and each family had a chance to unwrap and appreciate their gifts before the next family received their gifts. After the cousin exchange the adults participated in our annual Yankee gift exchange amidst lots of stealing of gifts and roars of laughter. A gorgeous set of cordial glasses from my husband's grandparents were a part of the exchange and stolen the max amount of times. Hubby's uncle ended up with them and then graciously gave a glass to each person he had "stolen" it from. My teenaged niece ended up with a "beardo" knit cap/beard combo and a D.A.D.D. (Dad's Against Daughters Dating) t-shirt. She wore her beardo proudly to Christmas Eve. Lots of laughter and fun.
Listening to my sisters-in-law talk about dinner preparations for Christmas Eve I realized that our unplanned Christmas Eve tradition has been to grab McDonald's on the way home from Mass. We usually attend Mass with Hubby's family, dress the kids in their pajamas, and drive 45 minutes to get home. This year we attended Mass with Hubby's sister and her family. We are also the Godparents for two of her daughters so this was a nice way for us to spend time with them. We were also able to go back to their house, change the kids in their new Christmas jammies in a warm house instead of a cold car, eat yummy food leftover from the party, and then head home. I really enjoyed spending extra time with my nieces and sitting with them during Mass. Boogie loved having one of his cousins sit in the backseat with him to and from Mass.
Hubby and I still had a few presents to wrap, but nothing like the usual last-minute pile from years past. We managed to write Santa a note from the kids, set out his "provisions" per Boogie's instructions, admire the lights on the tree, and head to bed.
On Christmas morning, I was up well before the kids. I think I was most excited to see the kids' faces and had a hard time waiting for them. But as always Buggy woke up before her brothers and snuggled with us. I also gave her a much needed nebulizer treatment. Kind of sad to start of Christmas Day with a nebulizer treatment, but well worth it. When Boogie woke up he did the same thing. They anxiously waited for their baby brother to wake up while Hubby started breakfast. When the baby finally woke up I gave the kids instructions to come down the stairs together when I gave the go ahead. I was able to catch their expressions with my camera while Hubby was able to film it. A first for the family. Usually I'm juggling both devices while Hubby escorts the kids. Having a child old enough to open the baby gate and to have all 3 children old enough to walk down the stairs together is a nice first.
The kids loved opening their stocking stuffers and checking out a few gifts under the tree. The kids enjoyed opening their sibling gifts and gifts from family friends. We took a break for breakfast and went back to presents. The kids had fun playing with their new toys and Hubby and I finally had a chance to open our presents. I received pajamas that fit. It was on my list. I'm happy to say that I am wearing a size smaller and all my old jammies were falling off. It's nice to walk around the house without holding up my pajama bottoms with one hand. HA! And as running has become one of my favorite pastimes, Hubby gifted me with a new pair of running shoes. The way to my heart is through my feet :) I surprised Hubby with a handmade scarf in Packer colors and I am pleased that he told me it's his favorite gift. I enjoyed making it for him and finished it just 2 days before Christmas.
We joined my cousins and aunt and uncle at my parent's house for Christmas Dinner. However, Christmas celebrations were dampened by the passing of my grandfather. He passed away around noon on Christmas Day. My grandfather lived in the Philippines and I did not know him, however, my mom and uncle's grief is profound and I am so sorry for their loss. I do not know what to say or do in these situations. And it's in situations like these that I am so grateful for my children. Hubby told the kids the situation and with their hearts full of love and innocence they gave comfort to my mom by hugging her. Buggy wanted to tell her that "even though she is sad, I love her." Mr. Bananas saw the tears in my uncle's eyes and while he does not understand death, he understands when someone is hurting. He walked up to my uncle and put his hands on his knees. I lifted him up and he just hugged and hugged my uncle. Children are so perceptive and I am so grateful for their amazing love and comfort.
While dinner was somber, the rest of the evening was less so with a family rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas, sharing of Christmas gifts, and a family game of the children's game "Headbanz." Laughter was definitely needed and soothed the soul for a short time. Christmas was cozy and pleasant. My brother was in town and it was nice to see him interact with my kids. He appeased the big kids by sitting between them for dinner and spending time with them. My mom who is usually a whirlwind for family dinners took the time to finally sit and sat down during dinner to enjoy food and conversation.
While celebrations were dampened by the loss of a family member, we were able to appreciate the time we have together.
I pray that you have a peaceful and happy Christmas. We are still celebrating Christmas for the next 11 days and reveling in the gift that is Jesus! Merry Christmas!