Okay, before I delve into the details of this year's festivities, I should probably tell you that I used to be pretty darn Scrooge-y about the holiday. Last year, if you asked me what my favorite part of Christmas was, I would have said, "When it's over." I have, in fact, uttered those words before. Yes, I am ashamed.
Last year, we didn't put up our Christmas tree or decorations until December 23rd. No joke. Last year, I did our Christmas shopping around that time. I'm serious. Last year, the Christmas tree came down on December 26th. Yep.
I was that bah-humbuggy.
This year, however, all the decorations went up the weekend after Thanksgiving. I actually did most of the Christmas shopping on Black Friday. (Yes, I braved the chaos, because I couldn't wait a second longer to start on the holiday fun.) I have had a total turn around about the holiday, just like Ebeneezer in A Christmas Carol. My house has been blasting holiday music since Thanksgiving. Holiday movies have been our source of entertainment since the first of December. My refrigerator has been stocked with Egg Nog all month.
Ask me what my favorite part of Christmas has been this year. ALL OF IT. I'm almost sad it's nearly over.
I wasn't able to do everything I had hoped to do: homemade tree ornaments, holiday baking extravaganza, hardcore exterior decorations (though we did have some), etc. But there's always next year, right? And I was pleased with how things turned out.
Now, onward with the photographic depiction of our Christmas!
First, we made an executive decision not to put the presents under the tree right away. Why? Because Princess and C-bear have a little trouble letting wrapped gifts go untouched for days on end. It's best to keep temptation from them as long as possible.
C-bear had a problem with how barren it was beneath our tree, so she took matters into her own hands.
|Look at the the pretty presents!|
The the eve before Christmas Eve, we had a wrapping party in my bedroom. All the kids were so thrilled about the gifts they had gotten each other. In the past, they all got gifts for every sibling, but with our budget, that meant dollar store gifts. This year, they drew names and they were able to get something a little nicer for their recipients.
Every year, Scrooge-y Mom or not, we open all of the family gifts on Christmas Eve. It's a tradition from my husband's Norwegian side, and we've chosen to carry it on with our family. But, before we tear into the wrapping paper, we go caroling. Yes, we travel about to the homes of loved ones (who are home that evening) and sing to them--right after our Christmas dinner. We've done it since our oldest two were little monkeys.
This year, we added cyber caroling to our repertoire, serenading via webcam family members who live too far for us to knock on their doors. Gotta love the age of technology!
And then, it's finally time to open gifts. Now, you'd think with a family of eight that would be utter mayhem, but we've got a tradition there as well (also stolen from my husband's family). We take turns opening gifts--one person and one present at a time. It makes it more of a family experience, with the kids being just as excited to watch their siblings and parents open the presents they've carefully picked out for them as they are about what they receive.
Here is the Christmas booty:
|Big E was happy with his Oregon Ducks themed gifts. From me: the very nice (and far from cheap) watch. From the kids: the vertical flag and sunglasses.|
|Banana's haul. From Mom & Dad: Christmas PJ's (with lime green fuzzy pants--her favorite color), art kit (markers, pencils, oil paints), and painting canvases. From Little E: Make-up and a make-up box.|
|Little E's stuff. From Mom & Dad: Christmas PJ's (Star Wars, of course!) and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II video game. From Princess: Light Saber that goes all the way in (from Little E's Christmas Wish List) and a small Star Wars Lego set.|
|G-Man's take. From Mom & Dad: Ninjago Christmas PJ's and a Ninjago Lego set. (We're very keen on Legos in this house.) From C-bear: Let's Go Fishin' game, Hot Wheels set, and Angry Birds Hot Wheels launcher.|
|Princess's goodies. From Mom & Dad: Disney Princess Christmas PJ's and a girly basic Lego kit. (Her big siblings won't let her play with theirs, so we figured she ought to have her own.) From Lee-Lee: Princess Barbie and Disney Princess coloring kit.|
|C-bear's gifts. From Mom & Dad: Tangled Christmas PJ's (her favorite Disney film) and Tangled doll. From Banana: Cinderella play-doh kit, more play-doh, and animal play-doh kit.|
Christmas morning is Santa's big show. This year, Santa was played by Mommy, Daddy, Lee-Lee, and Banana when it came to filling the stockings. And for the presents under the tree (or in our garage), Santa was portrayed by generous and anonymous folks who like to bless military families during the holiday season.
But first, this is what we woke up to this morning:
Again, as a reformed Scrooge, I was ridiculously excited to have a true White Christmas. I'm probably more thrilled than the kids!
I didn't take any photos of the Santa gifts, but I can tell you what we received (aside from the candy canes, chocolates, and clementines in our stockings). All of the children received brand new bicycles and helmets. I recevied a gift card to Target. Lee-Lee got a gift "card" to Amazon.com (so she could buy more books!). Banana got a gift card to Famous Footwear (and is already pestering me about going). Both Little E and G-man received Lego sets ("City"), and the littlest girls got Barbies.
This has been one of the best Christmases I've had since being married. I'm already counting the days until next year--where I plan to top this one.
I hope those of you who have meandered to this blog have had the happiest of holidays. Merry Christmas!