Friday, December 31, 2010

I did it!!!!

I survived Christmas 2010!!!   :D

Christmas Day Traditions

In addition to our Christmas Eve traditions, we have our own unique traditions for Christmas Day, too.  For one thing, we don't get up at the crack of dawn and dive into the Christmas presents!  No, no, no!  :)  Instead, we get up at a decent hour, take our showers and dress nicely for the day, and then sit down to a nice breakfast together.

This year, we had trouble getting the cinnamon rolls done, so while we waited on them to finish baking, we gathered around the dining table, lit the Advent candles, and listened while Alan finished reading Jotham's Journey.  In front of him you can see a picture of our Christmas Morning Brunch Casserole, which we eat each year with cinnamon rolls and orange slices.

After breakfast, someone delivers the stockings to each person's place, and we open them all together right there at the table.

Then, we quickly clean the kitchen and start the dishwasher, pour our cups of coffee, grab our cameras, and congregate around the Christmas tree, where the Gift Exchange begins.  The children open presents one at a time, youngest to oldest, so that we can all see who is opening what and savor the moment.  (This also encourages self-control!)  When we get to Tiffany, we start over again.  Each child usually receives four to five gifts, so we make the circuit about five times.  When the children have opened all of their gifts, Alan and I open our gifts from each other and from the children.  As you can imagine, this takes a good while!  :)

Bethany sometimes complains that she is younger than everyone  -- but this is one time it is a blessing to be the youngest!  She was delighted to go first, and was very pleased to receive this cash register for playing store!

Matt's favorite gift was a Star Wars Lego watch!  It is pretty cool!  Here is a picture of Joe helping him put it on.

Luke really enjoyed all of his Christmas presents this year and said he couldn't pick a favorite!  I know he has really enjoyed  his Star Wars Decide your Destiny books.

Hannah's main gift was a new Kodak Easy Share digital camera, which she loved!!  To see what she has been doing with her new camera, check out her blog -- One of Ten and Loving It!

Chris is a huge Tim Hawkins fan, and was thrilled to receive his new DVD, Tim Hawkins Insanitized!

In the picture below, Joe is trying out his new pajama pants!  He also received some clothes from American Eagle and Aeropostale.  (Hey, he's not wearing a shirt that says 'Joe Cool' for nothing!)  ;)

One of Josh's gifts was hand degreaser, to help him get his hands clean after working on his car. 

Tay got some much-needed new clothes and some ear buds for his Ipod.

In this photo, Ashlyn is opening earrings from Go Fish, which is a really cool company!  She was most excited to receive a new journaling Bible.

Tiffany is opening her new Bible cover.  She also loved her new hoodie and car monogram!

As for Me, I was very happy to receive this book -- Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman and can't wait to start reading it!

I also got this plaque for my house, which I had seen at a gift shop in "The Village" and fell in love with!  :)

Finally, Alan opened his gifts.  This one happened to be sort of a gag gift from the fellas!   :) 

He also got some new clothes, a CD, and a huge jar of apple butter from Cracker Barrel.

After the gifts are done, we clean up the mess and start working on Christmas Dinner, which is usually eaten late afternoon or early evening, and most commonly features a turkey and all the trimmings or a spiral ham.  This year, I made a Cranberry Glazed Pork Loin Roast instead, and we ate a good bit later in order to accomodate Josh and Kristi's schedule.

Josh and his girlfriend, Kristi:

We had a great day, full of many blessings!   How about you??

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Eve Traditions

One thing that helps to create unity and closeness in a family is the observance of fun family traditions and customs, topped off by a few crazy inside jokes!  :)   These familiar activities create a sense of security and belonging and help to instill a strong sense of family identity.

Most families have traditions, especially around the holidays.  Sometimes these traditions just sort of evolve unintentionally; other times, they are created purposefully and maintained through planning.

Growing up, we always had a party supper of hors d'oeuvres on Christmas Eve.   That is a tradition we have continued with our family.  It makes Christmas Eve feel special when we serve fun, party food!

This has the potential of becoming a new Christmas Eve tradition -- Peppermint Punch

Another tradition we had growing up was to drive around and look at the Christmas lights on Christmas Eve.  Now days, we usually do that one or more nights in December, but not necessarily on Christmas Eve, which tends to get quite full.

Celebrating Advent is a tradition that we initiated for our family many years ago, and we always look forward to the exciting conclusion of our advent storybook on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day!

One tradition that has evolved for us is to end the day by watching a holiday movie on Christmas Eve, with various family members falling asleep all over the family room!  It used to always be "It's a Wonderful Life," but then we switched to "White Christmas" or "Holiday Inn."   Our movie choices may continue to evolve, but I think this is a tradition we are likely to keep.

A couple years ago the older boys bought Santa hats to wear on Christmas Eve (along with their tacky Christmas sweaters!)  This quickly became the "hot fashion" for Christmas Eve attire!   This seems to be one of those random acts that is becoming a family tradition.

My older sons started another tradition, too.  They now attempt to pull off an all-nighter every Christmas Eve.  Not sure this is my favorite one, but they think it is "legit!"

The most favorite tradition and highlight of the evening is always the annual Sibling Gift Exchange.  The children all draw names some time in November or December and then eagerly shop for "their person!"  They try to keep it a secret, and sometimes go to great lengths to throw someone off the trail!  I think the part they enjoy most on Christmas Eve is just finding out who had whom!!!  :)

We always start with the youngest person . . . . Chris had Bethany's name this year.

Hannah had Matt:

Bethany had Luke:

Luke had Hannah:

Matt had Chris:

Josh drew Joe's name:

Ashlyn had Josh -- for the 4th year in a row!!!

Tiffany's person was Taylor:

Joe shopped for Ashlyn:

And Taylor had Tiffany!! 

What a FUN night!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Spreading Christmas Cheer

According to Buddy the Elf, "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to sing loudly for all to hear!"  For those of us who can bake better than we can sing, the best way to spread Christmas cheer is to hand out goodies for all to share!  ;)  So, that is what we did! 

Here are some pictures I took while we were out spreading Christmas cheer to our neighbors on Christmas Eve:

And this adorable little man is "Captain Will" -- a 3-year-old neighbor boy.  Isn't he the cutest thing??

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