My family used to all get together on Christmas Eve. It was my absolute favorite day of the year because it was the one day we all (mostly) got together. As all the cousins grew up, got married, and started having kids of their own, this got harder and harder to do. After my grandpa passed away (4 or 5? years ago), we've been drifting further away from each other and the last few years getting together on Christmas Eve became low on the priority list. Last Christmas, an Aunt even bluntly stated that our family Christmas was "not a priority" to her. I suggested we schedule it on a different day other than Christmas Eve, because I do realize that as everyone gets married, each cousin gets torn between our side of the family and their spouse's. So let's do it on a different day instead, because the most important thing was for us still to get together, regardless of when.
My mom, brother and his kids, sister and her family, and my family, decided we would continue the Christmas Eve tradition with just us. Sis and her husband hosted at their house and cooked a nice turkey dinner. I contributed a corn casserole. The kids all got to play together and open presents. I have my own childhood Christmas memories that I remember fondly. I want SO MUCH for my kids to have awesome Christmas memories with their family too. I think we are off to a good start!
Before heading to their house, we decorated gingerbread houses at home in the morning. I've never actually done a gingerbread house myself, but I thought it would be a fun tradition to start with the kids. I've never decorated with icing before either, so I made quite the mess all by myself, without their help! lol. Ayden was absolutely all about decorating his house. Miss Rylee was all about eating the candy! I even told Ayden he could eat a piece of the candy and he said, "no. It goes on the house!" Okay then...
|Rylee picking her next candy to eat. Ayden took a quick two second break from decorating to look up for a picture.|
|The three youngest cousins. Everyone should have a cow and Buzz Lightyear at their Christmas Eve celebration.|
|Eliana (11), Nathanial (5), Rylee (3), Urijah (a week shy of 6), Adilyn (3), Steven (6), Ayden (3).|
Not pictured: my niece, Pearl (1.5) who was being very camera shy.
|Christmas Eve family selfie.|
That night, we put cookies out for Santa, although Ayden and Rylee really didn't understand what we were doing and got a little mad that they couldn't just eat the cookies. After they went to bed, I broke off a little bit of each cookie and left it on the plate for them to finish what Santa didn't eat in the morning.
I woke up Christmas morning without a voice. Literally, I had nothing above a whisper of sound. That was fun. And interesting (and kind of funny) when you have to bring out the Mom Voice with toddlers. Hard to sound very firm when all you've got is a whisper! Our original plan was to spend the morning at home and then go to Tony's parents for the afternoon. We debated whether we should still go to their house if I was getting sick.
|Everything ready for Christmas morning.|
Ayden is always the first one up in the mornings. The first thing he said was "uh oh" when he saw the stockings on the floor by the tree. He wanted to hang them back up. So sweet! Once we convinced him it was okay to leave them there, he moved on to his new "skateboard" (scooter). He gave it a few whirls around the house and then decided he needed to go wake up Rylee and tell her about the new scooters. I took a video of this and it was the cutest thing and melted our hearts! So happy to have it on video. Rylee came out of her room and ran to the tree as soon as she saw her scooter. After they test drove them around a bit, we opened the stockings and presents. Notice that empty space next to the couch, behind the pink scooter in the picture above? At some point, Tony sneaked another present under the tree in that spot. He surprised me with a Shark steam mop! I had said I wanted one but thought it was off the table because we had set only a small Christmas budget for each other. He went well past the budget. I did not. I'm happy, but feel bad at the same time! My gifts to him were not exciting. I'm embarrassed to tell you that I only got him new white undershirts and dress socks for work! Oops. Also, when did I become such a nerd that I'd be excited about a mop?
|The only pic I captured at home Christmas morning. They loved their new safety scissors that were in their stockings. (Now I just need to get them back out for them to practice with!)|
Before we packed to go to the in-laws (the plan was to spend the night), I called MIL to get her opinion on if we should go or not since I had no voice. We determined that since I felt fine, and it being Christmas, that we should still go spend Christmas with them. I just needed to keep my distance and not hug on Great Grandpa. We had a wonderful afternoon with Tony's family. His aunts and uncles were there, along with his parents and grandpa. That night, Tony and I took advantage of having having babysitters (his parents) and went to see the new Star Wars movie in the theater. We found it difficult to follow in parts, trying to fit it into the other SW movies, but overall I loved it and can't wait for the next one.
|Using her new chapstick that Aunt C gave her.|
|Playing with his new airplane.|
|Tony with his Grandpa. He's very special to us.|
The next morning, I still didn't have much of a voice, but it was at least a little better. Before heading home, we stopped at an old friend's house and visited her family. I went to middle and high school with this friend, and we were roommates in college. We also used to live right across the street from each other before we sold our house and moved to Veneta two years ago!
You'd think that would be the end of our Christmas festivities, but oh no. After this, we had a little Christmas with Tony's brother and his family when we went to Washington for our sledding weekend. We haven't actually done Christmas together the last few years, so it was pretty fun, even if belated.
Then last weekend was supposed to be the late Christmas gathering with my family with aunts, uncles, and cousins. It ended up getting canceled because of the huge winter storm that blew through. If it was just snow, it might not have been too bad. But the snow was sandwiched between lots of freezing rain as well, so there was a LOT of ice. I literally haven't seen some of my family for over a year, so it was kind of sad not to be able to get together.
We have one more Christmas party to go. This coming up weekend is our last Christmas celebration! This one is for Tony's mom's side of the family. We saw most everyone on Christmas Day this year, which was unusual because it's typically just his parents, grandpa, and one aunt, but on Saturday we'll also have several of the cousins there too. It will be fun. The kids love seeing everyone and I love that they are making memories.
As much as I love the holidays, I am looking forward to being able to put Christmas behind us. Wait. Who am I kidding? I still have our Christmas decorations out!!! The only things that have been put away are the tree decorations and the stockings. Ugh. I REALLY need to put the rest of it away, but I really dislike the "undecorating" part of Christmas. Sigh.
Now, I need to hit the publish button and submit this post before it hits midnight and it's the 13th! It's taken me a full day and a half to finish this post. Life with toddlers....