December 26, 2005
Merry Christmas to All!
Our family enjoyed a wonderful Christmas! On Friday evening we went to the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory and Cactus Gardens for an amazing light display (about a half million lights, draped about 300 varieties of cacti...not something you see any old place at Christmas time!). It was so warm out Ted only wore short sleeves! The kids and I still wore light jackets, but it was nice to enjoy strolling about the garden without shivering. We went inside for a brief tour of the chocolate factory, but as it was past operating hours, we could only read the displays on the walls. It looks like a fun place to go back and visit, and based on the free samples we enjoyed, I'm sure we could pack away a few extra pounds if we visited too often!
Our church did not have services on Christmas Day, holding instead one service Friday evening and six--yes, SIX--services on Christmas Eve. I volunteered in the pre-school department at the 6:30 p.m. service, and Ted and the children, along with some neighbor friends from down the street, joined me for the 8 p.m. service. Ted and I had wrapped all the remaining presents Friday evening, so all we had left to do when we got the kids in bed was assemble the Radio Flyer wagon my aunt Judith sent for the kids, stuff the stockings, and set the table for breakfast.
We allowed ourselves to sleep until about 6:45 a.m. on Christmas Day, then both showered and did our quiet times while the house was still quiet! At about 8:15 we decided we were ready to wake the children up. As we don't expect they will stay asleep on Christmas morning for too many more years, we enjoyed waking them with a Merry Christmas and watching the realization dawn on their faces--yes, TODAY is CHRISTMAS!!
As has always been the tradition at my house growing up, we allowed the children to open their stockings first. Charis, in her excitement, gave her stocking a great yank, not thinking about the fact that the stocking holder just might not stay in place. So she began her day with a few tears and a couple of scratches on her chin, but that was forgotten as she discovered the goodies tucked away in her sock.
Next we enjoyed a simple breakfast with homemade crockpot applesauce and toast, followed by the final reading of our Christmas advent calendar. The kids had been looking forward to putting Baby Jesus in the manger, the final of the 25 figures on the calendar. However, now that the Big Day had arrived, Tobin found himself much more interested in the colorful packages under the tree, and it was all we could do to keep him from tearing into them. Charis and Arden took turns putting Baby Jesus in the manger, and then we handed out the presents.
We did pretty well the first few rounds, starting with Arden and taking turns watching each other unwrap gifts. Then Arden unwrapped what was probably the least expensive gift he received--a package of 3 little nerf-like balls--and he was finished! He is a ball fanatic and spent the rest of the time running around the house happily announcing, "I got football!" "I throw the ball!" and so on. So we continued in our opening, losing Tobin when he got to the Bob the Builder Leap Pad book. (Insert Bob the Builder theme music here.)
Charis, Ted and I continued unwrapping, asking the boys now and then if they were ready to join us. Tobin eventually did, and we ended up "helping" Arden unwrap his remaining presents. He did leave the balls for awhile so he could work a new puzzle, but then went right back to his running, kicking, and throwing.
Having gone through 5 Christmases with children now, we were prepared for that to happen--losing interest in unwrapping presents because of the excitement of one just opened. I remember a couple years ago I was so stressed out because Tobin was not feeling well and didn't want to open any presents at all. I've learned a lot about children since then, and I was prepared for us to open presents all day if necessary, or to not even worry about opening them. And so it was a much more enjoyable experience, and I honestly feel that I delighted more in watching the children with their new treasures than in the receiving, though I must say that I am thankful for the gifts that I did get. Still, I can't help but think that the best gift is that the children have some NEW activities, including a plethora of puzzles (ranging from 24-piece to 100-piece), books, building-type blocks, and family games. This is a lifesaver for a home schooling mother, especially with pre-schoolers to keep busy!
I just have to include this picture here--Tobin went through a lion-roaring phase back in Maryland, about the time that Ted's brother Joel and his wife Sarah were visiting us. When Joel and Sarah took a trip to Las Vegas (long before we moved here), they spent some time at MGM Grand and found this lion hat. Of course they had to get it for Tobin, who loves it even though he hasn't been on his roaring kick in awhile.
After some of the noise and excitement had waned, we popped in a new Veggie Tales DVD, The Lord of the Beans, and enjoyed watching that as our ham finished baking and the make-ahead potatoes were heating. As HUGE LOTR fans, Ted and I got many a chuckle out of the parody, and the kids seemed to enjoy the episode too, though Charis got a little upset at seeing the evil sporks. When she realized that they were simply utensils, AND that they became nice in the end, she was satisfied.
We enjoyed a wonderful dinner of ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and dressing. Too bad the kids only liked the ham! Actually, Tobin did say he liked the green bean casserole, though he didn't completely finish it. Still, he was the only one to eat any! After dinner we set out for a walk with the boys in the new wagon (Charis wanted to ride her bike), only to come back when Arden threw a screaming fit because I wasn't carrying him. Ted had been pulling the wagon, and Arden seems to think that if my hands are empty, he needs to remedy that. The whole point of a walk was NOT to wear myself out carrying a toddler, so we decided that Ted should stay home and put Arden down for his nap while I went out with Charis and Tobin. The weather was sunny and beautiful, probably 65 degrees or so, and the exercise was nice.
When we returned home, I enjoyed a 2 1/2 hour nap!! Didn't think I was so tired, but obviously I was! Ted had fun with a computer game, the boys napped, and Charis colored happily in a Nativity coloring book the kids got at church on Christmas Eve. Then our neighbors down the street invited us to come over for munchies, so we headed down there to help them eat up some finger foods and enjoyed dessert and conversation as well. Before putting the kids to bed, we read the entire Advent Book, opening up ALL of the 25 doors. It put the finishing touch on the Day as we remembered together that Baby Jesus came into the world because GOD so loved us that He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. [You can see Charis here with her special gift from Mom and Dad, her very own Bible!]
So, all in all, it was a very full, fun, blessed Christmas Day! We hope you all had as much of a wonderful celebration as we did.