It was a wonderfully exhausting Christmas here for our family! I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas as well.
Ours kicked off on Christmas eve with 4:00 Children's mass. Our two oldest joined in the choir, Sam played the role of Joseph, and Grace was one of the many angels dressed to celebrate the birth of our Saviour. John and Mary also attended mass with us, but this time we left Charlie along with the other 3 young ones at Grandma's. We arrived at church more than 1/2 hour early, and found it to be standing room only already. Fortunately once mass began, and all the angels found their seats, there were a couple extra pews to fill in, so we did get a seat. What a beautiful celebration it was!
Afterwards, we joined the younger ones at my parent's house for dinner (ham sandwiches and appetizers...HEAVY on the appetizers.) It was all so delicious! Of course there was time for some billiards and dancing (mostly the young ones) to christmas music before it was time to open gifts. And of course more nibbling on delicious appetizers and sweets. This is also my brother's birthday, so a phonecall to Florida to wish him a happy birthday was in order.
Naturally, bedtime took a bit longer than usual after all that excitement. I thought the kids would never fall asleep. Of course they arranged a plate of cookies and a mug of chocolate milk on the coffee table for Santa, and did a last sweep through to pick up toys so that the house would be tidy when he arrived. By 10:30 they were asleep, so the elves got busy. Very busy! I'd not wrapped the first present yet, so we had our work cut out for us. For years we've had the tradition of just 3 gifts per child, as with the 3 wisemen's gift for the Infant King. But I also had a few gifts for godchildren to open at our party on Christmas day. I think we made it to bed by 2:30. It's kind of a blur.
The kids were up at 7am, and John and I lingered in bed just a few minutes longer to listen quietly to their conversations about the gifts left under the tree. Too cute to hear their reactions! Of course, we don't open gifts right away. That'd be too easy. Rather, we let the suspense build while we have a light breakfast, get dressed, showered, fresh coffee, etc. (C'mon mom!!!! Can we open them yet?!?!?!) We managed to hold them off till 10. Everyone seemed more than pleased with their gifts. It was a very good Christmas, and I'm enjoying these years when they're still young, and easy to please. My parents joined us for gift opening, and then a late brunch of egg/sausage casserole, fresh fruit, toast and juice. The kids were able to enjoy their new treasures briefly before we were off to set up for John's family Christmas.
It was our year to host, so we rented a nearby hall...John's one of 12 children who all have families of their own now. The numbers add up fast. It too was a wonderful party complete with a re-enactment skit of the Christmas Story, a pinata and gift giving. We also enjoyed LOTS of food and beverage. The beef I'd been working on earlier in the week seemed to turn out great. Everyone brought plenty of sides and yummies to share. Good times were definitely had by all, I think. John took the kids home sometime after 9:30 to get them off to bed, and I stayed behind with a couple of the older ones to clean up.
In the days since, we've done not much of anything, but continue to enjoy our Christmas blessings. I was able to sneak out the morning after Christmas with my best friend who was home from South Carolina. We enjoyed coffee and an hour or so of wonderful conversation. Later her kids were able to join ours for an afternoon of playtime, trying out all the new Christmas toys. They played together so well, allowing us all time to just relax and enjoy. We've put puzzles together, built Charlie's new bike, downloaded some music for mp3's, continued to munch on christmas sweets, built forts and castles with Legos and Lincoln Logs, played with dollies and strollers, trucks and cars and tractors...and on and on. Tonight we're looking forward to the bounty of Grace's new Easy-Bake oven.
I'm ever grateful for God's greatest Gift, as well as time spent with family and friends this Christmas season. How abundantly we are blessed!