We had a wonderful several days of Christmas. It all started on Sunday evening, when we journeyed north to David's brother Aaron's home. He invited us to join him and his children and their families for dinner and camaraderie. My mother and father in law, Erma and John, were there as well. I enjoyed the conversation and the meal immensely. Getting to know the family of my children's father actually helps me to understand my kids more. Conner (and I suspect Ashlyn) has genetically been blessed with a rather impulsive based strain of ADHD, something that definitely runs in the family. Talking about it with the others who deal with this particular malady makes it a bit easier to deal with it. Its a special kind of support system. They all had little gifts for us, which was so kind. All I had to give back was a song or two. Maryn sang "Angels We Have Heard On High" with me in harmony, and then I sang "For Good" and "Grown up Christmas List". Strangely, after nearly 14 years, none of them really knew I had the ability to sing quite like that. It was a good evening with good food and lots and lots of desserts. Apparently my nephew Gentry is a master cookie maker. Good to know.
Christmas Eve I worked in the morning. A mostly quiet morning with just a few of us manning the office. I also got to deliver Meals on Wheels that day, and received smiles and greetings from 11 wonderful and happy seniors I have come to look forward to seeing every other week. I got home and Garrett joined me for a wrapping session so all was ready for the night. I threw together a cheeseball, dip, slush and a salad before heading off to my dad's brother Gary's house.
Gary and Pam are pretty wonderful people and we love them dearly. Their three youngest boys and their spouses (or girlfriends) were there, as was Pam's mother. Bryant, Garrett and Mandy came as well, and my Grandmother enjoyed the evening with us, too. We ate turkey, potatoes, stuffing, salad and Pam's famous rolls. My cousin Nate's wife Lindy made a ton of fabulous desserts we got to sample. We then adjourned downstairs and played Christmas charades followed by the sharing of memories...favorite gifts, favorite Christmases...followed by singing. It was lovely.
We headed home and the kids wriggled into their new PJ's and we quickly settled in. I was able to convince Ashlyn that what Santa really wanted was a snickerdoodle cupcake and Diet Dr. Pepper. Paul would like to convince his future children that what Santa wants is a big juicy steak.
Christmas morning comes early..as it usually does. My kids are against the idea of waiting past 6 a.m. to get up and open gifts. But I enforced a 6 a.m. rule. Well, kind of enforced. Maryn started coming in and giving me updates about how close we were to 6 a.m. about 15 minutes before the actual time. The kids were enthusiastic and cheerful as they opened their gifts. Everyone got Poptarts and an electric toothbrush (I refuse to buy Poptarts at any other time of the year)
Paul: iPhone,electric razor, remote control helicopter, Orson Scott Card book, a Pleasant Grove Vikings tshirt and a pair of pants (and another shirt)
Maryn; iPod Touch, Silver Bob shoes, Straightener, new coat and a new outfit with leopard print jeans
Conner: Skylanders game and figures for Wii, Angry Birds Air Swimmers, mini remote control car, Beywheels and stadium, new shirts
Ashlyn: iPod Touch, Lego "Friends" house and car, a new outfit that is pink and sparkly and therefore totally her, snow pants, a fish lava lamp
I got a griddle from my sweet Maryn. She had earned her own money to buy it for me. And some socks and lotion as well. Paul gave me a movie and I got pretty hair things from my 2 youngest. But the best gift was from my oldest. After helping me place the gifts under the tree, we stood back and I briefly lamented it didn't look like much (the kids gifts get smaller but more expensive the older they get). He wrapped his arms around me and said "Mom, you are doing a good job. You're a great mom. Anything you can give us is enough." Darn I love that boy.
After we cleaned up, I started making a rather amazing smelling coffee cake to take to Becky's for Brunch at 10. Most of my Downs family was there and the coffee cake was a hit and everyone raved over it. Even though Conner accidentally stepped on it on the way over. See exhibit A below.
I am buried in gratitude for my family. I have 2 cousins who are about Paul's age. Here they are hanging out. They will all 3 be gone and on missions within the next year and a half. Its kind of cool. And they also happen to be friends.
Later in the day, around 2:30, my siblings came over and we got a few more fun things. The boys got Star Wars mugs with hot chocolate, Ashlyn got lip gloss and Maryn got stuff for glitter toes. I got a chick flick and speakers for my iPhone. They also brought the gift from my parents; a soda maker with 4 bottles of syrup flavoring.
We simply chilled. And played with toys.
And drank slush. And ate homemade pizza and cheeseball. And watched White Christmas. And then many of us went to go see Les Miserables. It was a great movie, except that we were sitting so close I actually got motion sick.
It was a wonderful Christmas.