Steve and I have always been blessed to spend Christmas with either his parents or my parents…however the larger our family becomes, the more expensive plane tickets become, the larger the presents we have to pack, and for some reason the worse the weather is in Milwaukee- okay, so there is really no correlation between our larger family and the weather in Milwaukee, but it is a reason why we opted to stay put.

Of course we have Steve’s brother here which we planned on spending time with on Christmas, so that left Christmas Eve, which is really the best part of Christmas in my opinion and also the thing that would make us most miss home. So, Steve wanted to duplicate the feeling of chaos and love he experiences with all his nieces and nephews so we invited as many people as we could possibly fit in our house: 28: 14 adults. 12 children. 2 infants.

We had dinner, where everyone helped out by bringing some amazing dishes, so much so most of us found ourselves rolling out of the kitchen. We held a small gift exchange for the kids which they absolutely loved. And then we had the kids act out the Nativity (Steve’s tradition) complete with a seven day old baby girl Jesus. (Who was just about the sweetest and most petite thing I’ve seen). We closed with singing a few songs (Kara’s tradition) and several of the kids performed a few solos which was so fun. We had a great time. Hallie loved having all of her “friends” over, and both Steve and I agreed it was the perfect first Christmas Eve away from family.

We closed early enough that everyone could go home and have their own family traditions as well. We sent everyone on their way, with some reindeer food to sprinkle on the porch.
We then each opened up a present (pajamas). We set out Santa’s cookies and milk, as well as the reindeer food. And then settled down to read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” (Steve’s tradition). Surprisingly, Hallie went to bed quite well. I thought for sure she would be wound up for hours, she proved me wrong, thank heavens.

It was so fun to do this on our own. We tend to rely heavily upon our family for events like this, which means we end up doing what everyone else wants to do. But this time, we chose what we did or did not want to do and it was great. There were no expectations to live up to, or rules to follow, which made it relatively stress free. It was a good excuse to use all the Christmas tablecloths and runners I’ve been saving, the fun tree placemats, the green/red centerpiece, the Christmas serving bowls that I’m sure Steve cursed me when I bought. But they all came in handy! We’re grateful for our wonderful friends who we were able to spend this special day with! Now, on to Christmas…