What a beautiful, relaxing and fun Christmas we had this year. While my youngest sister Charity really tried for a full "Epic Eyrealm Christmas" involving all 9 siblings and our families at our parents' house for Christmas, some families would have had to transport too many people too far during the most expensive season for plane tickets and my brother Eli and his wife Julie were expecting their first baby on December 26th so they needed to stay put. So the group was smaller than Charity's vision - but it actually turned out to be a nice-sized group for the number of bedrooms my parents' have and we had a lot of people and a lot of fun without any of the stress that over-crowdedness can bring. We missed everyone who wasn't there but I think it was a pretty darn perfect Christmas just the same.
It snowed ALL day on Christmas Eve and it was just gorgeous.
The tree was huge. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.
We dressed up and did our traditional "Nazareth Supper" and ate figs and dates and pita and fish while pretending to be Mary's family sending her and Joseph off on their trip to Bethlehem. With the kids all old enough to really participate, my mom's great food, and my dad there to help make it extra good, this was about the best Christmas Eve dinner ever.
As we talked about the visions and hopes and worries of Mary and Joseph, we also talked about the prophesies of Isaiah and how exciting it was that they were about to be fulfilled. My dad asked what we know from the scriptures about this special baby that would be born. I was proud when Silas piped up to recite the scripture he'd memorized recently - "unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders" then Oliver finished it off "and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Perfect.
Isaac was very serious about his role as Joseph, sharing lots of details about his carpentry work and how he'd prepared for this trip to Bethlehem.
Then we headed into the living room to act out the nativity.
How I love seeing my kids acting this out every Christmas Eve as we ponder on the real reason for the season!
I love my kids' rendition of the nativity scene. And I love this rendition of the scene as well - by one of my favorite painters, Brian Kershisnik. My parents have this up on their wall at Christmas time.
After dinner and quickly whipping up some cookies for Santa, Ashton pulled up this thing on the computer that says where Santa is in the world and the twins freaked out with excitement and hurried super fast to get to bed when they heard Santa was only a couple states away.
Ready to head in and see what Santa brought!
I checked to see if Santa had come. Sure enough. He came!
Ashton got a bike (and a friendly reminder from Santa to PLEASE not leave it unlocked again - it was so sad that the last bike got stolen!)
Isaac got skis - SO excited!
Eliza was really sneaky about her letter to Santa this year. She wouldn't let us see it at all and wouldn't tell us what she'd asked for. She said she wasn't really trying to test out to see if Santa was real - she just wanted us to all be surprised. Santa gave her exactly what she'd asked for in her letter - and more. She got a nice note from Santa saying that he'd honored her request to help a child in need by taking some little dolls to the little girls in the orphanages in Bulgaria but that he hoped she wouldn't mind that he didn't honor her request to give her nothing as he'd had an extra little doll like the ones he gave the orphans and wanted her to have it. He also gave her some money to go towards her dance lessons. She was SOOOOOOOOOOO excited!
Oliver got this quad copter helicopter thing that he'd had his heart set on. Jared couldn't figure out how in the world to fly the thing but Ashton and Oliver had it going beautifully in no time. Oliver was SO excited!
Silas got an all-terrain remote-control vehicle. There were a couple tears when it turned out to be slightly different than the one he'd had his heart set on but when he got that thing going and saw how awesome it was, he was all smiles.
Mom and Dad loved the present Shawni and I put together for them - a nicely formatted and categorized and bound book full of all the quotes and scriptures they had us memorize growing up. I gave one to Charity as well since I drew her name this year and as Shawni and I tried to gather all the quotes all the siblings could remember learning, she said that she was sad she didn't know most of the quotes, having come along at the tail end when some of our family systems like doing weekly points and memorizing quotes to make up for missed points weren't as strongly in place...
The kids also got great presents from their very kind grandparents:
My parents gave me and Jared an awesome present - a new speaker system. They gave all the siblings the same thing. Perfect gift from them since they love music so much and have taught us to love and crave music our whole lives. Now we'll be able to enjoy music all the more right in our own homes!
The eggs benedict process (our traditional Christmas breakfast) was tricky and exactly as usual, but with my mom and Anita plus me and Charity helping, everything turned out extra great!
We spent the afternoon playing with all our new stuff. I love hanging out in our PJ's all day on Christmas, playing with the kids, working on a big puzzle, eating treats, just being together.
Isaac and Silas had fun seeing what Silas's new car could do in the snow.
Eliza created a "house" for herself and her new doll and did a lot of drawing.
All the kids gave their grandparents the books and cards that they so lovingly made for them.
And there was a very cute little cousin to play with - sweet Annina was SO fun!
We finished off the day by going to see Les Miserables (in our PJ's) and having a lovely Christmas dinner.
Perfect Christmas! How blessed we were to be with so many loved ones and to have so many presents and so much good food and such excellent company.