I know that one doesn’t typically put up a Christmas post in March. However, as life would have it, there have been other things that needed to take priority over blogging (more about that in future posts). Nonetheless, I still wanted to record our Christmas memories, and if any of you should still be interested in how our Christmas went, read on…
We have always celebrated Christmas at my parents’ house. When it was just me and Clint, I don’t think I had any desire to host Christmas because I wasn’t ready to change any more traditions than necessary. When the kids came along, I began to think that they might enjoy waking up Christmas morning in their own bed and spending the day at their own house, but hosting Christmas at our condo wasn’t very practical. So when we finally got a house of our own this year, I knew the time had come for us to host Christmas. Unfortunately that time came on the heels of our move and hosting Thanksgiving. Thus we may not have had our act together as much as we would have liked, but it still turned out to be a great celebration.
Clint’s dad came into town early in the week, and we all enjoyed visiting with him. My parents and brother drove up Christmas Eve and met us at church. My family has always gone to church on Christmas Eve, and since Clint and I have young kids now, we traded in our late night mass for a service that is early enough for us to get the kids fed and to bed at a reasonable hour. This year church was at 4:00, and one of the things I was most excited about was that we were able to go to our church! I’ve never been able to see what a church I was attending was like on Christmas because I was always at my parents’ church. Having both of our families at our church felt very special. We got to church early, but apparently not early enough as we could not get a seat. Sitting at the side didn’t prove to be a problem though as it actually gave the kids a little more wiggle room.
After mass we all went back to our house for dinner. The tradition used to be that we went out to dinner on Christmas Eve, but last year (before we even knew about our future house) we decided we needed a new plan because dinner at a fancy restaurant with two rambunctious boys is not a good time. Fortunately my husband is a super chef, so he made homemade pasta and baked us fresh bread, and my mom brought over her homemade spaghetti sauce. It was so delicious! After dinner we were all able to open one present. However, I should warn you, every year it is the same… Christmas pajamas. I made sure to tell Parker in advance what to expect because I can still remember one year (15+ years ago) when my brother excitedly opened his one present only to find that it was pajamas. He looked at the contents in disgust and cast them aside saying, “Clothes?!” So I learned it was best to not let kids think they are going to be opening a fun toy only to discover they got pajamas instead. This year my mom got all of us matching pajamas. Somehow we failed to get a picture of all of us wearing them, but you’ll get the idea.
As I imagine is the case for many families, sleeping in Christmas morning is not really possible with our kids, so our household was up bright and early. We always insist on the kids (previously meaning me, Clint, and my brother… now meaning my boys) walking out together so that everyone can see what exciting things await them under the tree at the same time. My brother (who shared a room with the boys the night before… what a trooper) helped keep them entertained in their room as the adults made their way out of bed and got their coffee. When the big moment arrived, Grandma brought the boys out of their room, and they quickly discovered and began to play with their unwrapped toys.
This year Austin got his first bike, and Parker got a big kid scooter. The boys’ gift from Clint’s dad was a backyard roller coaster. Now that we have an outdoor space, everyone is making the most of it. My brother Justin largely got warm clothes for Seattle (where he’ll be going for work after he graduates this summer). Clint and I kept it budget friendly and practical this year and got each other new athletic shoes. The boys made watercolor paintings that we used as the matte for a picture of the two of them, which we framed to make gifts for them to give to everyone. My parents and brother got a group gift from us of a night out to dinner and the Improv for the family (without kids). Clint’s dad’s favorite gifts were picture-related as that was what he hinted for this year. My dad got a nice pair of headphones from my brother that he was really excited about, and my mom got a fancy New Year’s dress that my brother and Dad shopped hard to find. My parents spoiled all of us including lots of toys for the boys and several great cooking supplies for Clint.
As fun as the gifts are, the best part is always the family time. I insist on savoring that by not rushing through gifts. If the boys want to play with their new toys, then I let them rather than push them from one gift to the next. As a result, we all talked, and ate, and relaxed… and it took us ALL day to get through everything, which I thought was perfect.
My dad’s breakfast speciality is biscuits and gravy, which I heavily hinted that I wanted him to make for us Christmas morning, and he kindly obliged. After our delicious brunch, most of us took naps while the boys slept. When we woke up, we played some more and made our way through the rest of the gifts. Dinner that evening kept the good food rolling as Clint cooked prime rib for us on his Big Green Egg grill all day, plus he made amazing potatoes to go with it. My small contribution was making the salad. After dinner, we checked out our stockings, listened to music, and chatted some more. It was a wonderful day.
The next day Clint used his new waffle maker to make us breakfast. Then all the guys got to work planting the new trees. I had to work the day after Christmas (unfortunately I couldn’t get approval to take the day off), but I was able to come home on my lunch break to visit with everyone and enjoy the best French Dip sandwiches I’ve ever had made by Clint from Prime Rib leftovers. My parents and brother left later that afternoon, and Clint’s dad left the following morning. Even though the time with our extended family went by way too fast, we tried to keep the Christmas spirit going and enjoyed fun activities like checking out the neighborhood nearby that has street after street of houses all decked out for Christmas.
The excitement of Christmas may be behind us now, but the joy of Easter is just around the corner. Happy Holy Week!