I figure since it's (mid!) February already I ought to post on Christmas 2011. I haven't wanted to because our pictures are such crap. I guess that's what happens when your son drops your camera in the freezer... (punk kid). So it's iPhone pics for us. Which I suppose could be worse. But these are some of the favorites, courtesy of Instagram. :)
Christmas this (last) year was fabulous. We decided that for the sake of stress and world peace, we would no longer travel for Christmas but stay home instead. This was our first year.
And it. Was. Wonderful.
We missed our family (mostly the Barentine side, as the Andersons were pretty much all in town and therefore visitable without traveling), but spending quality time with OUR little family was priceless.
Christmas Eve was pleasant and peaceful and nice. I can't remember what we did during the day. Nothing spectacular, apparently. But that evening was memorable. Derek's family has a tradition (quasi-recent tradition, anyway) of having a candlelight waffle dinner for Christmas Eve. It sounds significantly less formal than it is, but they go all out. A ham, waffles with all the trimmings, candlelight, wassail, fine china, the works. I loved this tradition but wanted to do a version that was our very own. So, implementing our French "roots," we decided to do a spin off of their tradition and have a candlelit, china-using CREPE dinner.
Another back story: my family consists of three girls (of whom I am the middle)... and our little brother Michael (who is not really part of this story but cannot be left out). My parents also had three sets of china. All growing up, they told us that when we were married (or grown, I suppose), we would inherit one set of china each. And the first to be married would be the first to choose, etc. I'm not sure if my sisters did this, but I always hoped I would be married first- if only to be able to choose my favorite set of china, the pretty floral one. Well it turns out the china was not distributed in the timely manner it was predicted to be. Six and a half years into my marriage, and it was still sitting in the cupboard at home. I don't think anyone minded or even remembered (apartment living does not necessitate fine china, nor is china conducive to frequent moves). But when Dad and Polly came up at Thanksgiving time, they called and asked which china was my fav so they could bring it up for me. I chose the pretty floral set (of course), and apparently I was the only sister with an opinion so SCORE for me. I got my wish. Long story, but the point is: I had china this year, and even with two young children and an unforgiving tile floor- we used it.
My mom joined us for our Christmas festivities this year. She helped me unwrap the delicate china, hand wash it all, and pray that kids would not chuck their dishes on the floor (which is not unheard of around here, unfortunately). Despite the potential catastrophe, however, dinner went perfectly.
We had savory crepes first (ham, egg, Gruyere cheese, s&p) followed by dessert crepes (raspberries, blueberries, Nutella, banana, whipped creme, etc). We ate amid the beautiful glow of candle light. And we used (and didn't drop, phew) beautiful, sentimental, inherited china (I feel so grown up having it, can you tell?). The meal was happy, peaceful, and quaint. It was a very happy moment (though it could have been the Gruyere and Nutella... mmm). It was the perfect Christmas Eve dinner, and I was thrilled that it went so smoothly.
After dinner, we opened our Christmas pajama presents. This year I simply bought cute ones at the store. Nothing homemade, nothing extremely cool. But the kids were CRAZY-in-love with their jammies! They were surprisingly happy and excited about them. It was awesome. Woohoo for appreciative kids! So we jammied-up and then sat around the living room with just the glow of the Christmas lights around us. We read the Bible story of Christ's birth in Luke 2. We discussed it so the kids would comprehend it all. Then we sang Christmas songs. Christ-centered ones as well as Santa-esque ones. Just whatever. It was nice. Music is amazing with its power to set moods - and invite the Spirit.
Before bedtime (which we followed regardless of the holiday- a good call when hoping for well-behaved, happy children) we got our stockings down and set out cookies and egg nog for Santa. Then we said our prayers and got in bed.
Backstory: As a kid, my mom's parents (my grandparents) would almost always come and stay with us for Christmas. Grandma Bunny would always sleep in our room with us (it was just us girls then). We would chat her ear off (as per usual) until she bribed us and offered a "quat-uh" (my grandma is from Massechusettes and says some words with an adorable accent) to the first girl to fall asleep. We always thought it was a sweet way to earn some money; she, I'm sure, was just exhausted and wishing we'd quit all that yackin. :) Fun memories. Sorry for the tangent.
Anyway, as I mentioned before, my mom stayed over with us. She stayed on the trundle in James' room. It was fun for me, as it brought so many fun memories to the surface. Just like her mom had slept in our room, she was sleeping in James' (I'm sentimental like that). Being the only kid in his room, however, I'm not sure if there were quarters involved. :)
So Christmas morning, James woke up and woke Grandma up, and then Grandma went in and got Jolie out of bed. When we were ready for them, we all came out into the hall together.
It was Christmas morning, and Santa had come!
The kids were really excited (though not entirely surprised; they got exactly what they asked for) about the gifts Santa had left them. James got a helicopter (as well as a coordinating motorcycle- bonus!), and Jolie got a (stuffed) puppy. We all enjoyed opening (emptying?) our stockings and discovering the fruit, nummy candy, and other little trinkets which had been left inside.
Once we were finished with our Santa presents, we ate some breakfast and got ready for church. Jolie had an especially hard time changing out of her cupcake jammies and into a church dress. I very nearly let her go to church in her pjs! But Daddy convinced her that her "hess" was "pity" and that she could change back into her cuppie cake jammies when we got home. We made it to church on time (Christmas miracle!) and enjoyed a very pleasant, very joyful Sacrament meeting.
When we returned home, we slipped back into our new pjs and resumed our present opening. It was really nice. We were able to take things slow, letting the kids play with their toys for a bit before opening new ones... letting them appreciate them before greedily tossing them to the curb (that's how a rushed Christmas morning feels to me; I'm glad we didn't experience that).
The children exchanged their sibling gifts first because they (James) were so excited to see the other one open the gift they'd chosen and wrapped themselves. James gave Jolie a set of little mermaids - Ariel and her sisters. She loved them. She calls them her "Ah-ahs" (as in the tune Ariel sings in The Little Mermaid- "ah ah ahhhh, ah ah ahhhh..."). :) I know, adorable. Jolie gave James a "shark airplane" that he's been admiring for the past year (smart advertising, Imaginext). Then they opened their other presents.
The kids mostly got three presents from us, and they were shared (for both kiddos) gifts: a road rug/play mat from IKEA, a dress-up box containing various dress-ups collected throughout the year, and probably the biggest one- a play kitchen that I made for them (soooo proud of the results). The most magical and wonderful part of it all was that both kids were genuinely thrilled with all of their presents, and genuinely grateful, and genuinely having a BLAST when we stopped to play with all of it!
It was such a fantastic, peaceful, wonderful morning.
After all of this wonderment, we had lunch and then naps. Ah, naps. :) Grandma Marilyn went home for naptime, and I'm pretty sure we all slept, having worn ourselves out from all of the excitement. When our naps were over, we headed over to Julie's house for the Anderson Christmas Gift Exchange. (Mindy, if you're reading this, that part was for you.)
Most of Derek's side of the family was there (we missed you, Lays!). We got there in time for Christmas dinner, which was mostly a casual grazing of fantabulous foods. Then we opened our Mary Poppins type bag of gifts from Grandma Julie, followed by our sibling family gifts to one another. We chatted and laughed and reminisced and just soaked up the love.
It was a very love-filled Christmas for me. Evidently.
Finally- at midnight (ack!), we packed up our kiddos, came home, and put them to bed. And we slept... while visions of sugar plums danced in our heads.