Christmas eve 2021…

Is there anything better than Christmas eve dinner in your Christmas jammies?!

We spent the evening with our good friends and I love the text I got just an hour before we were to meet up. “Are your kids planning on wearing pajamas?” I did a quick survey and it was a resounding yes, and our friends were on board.

We have been sharing Christmas eve together for many years and each year it gets better. We have 11 kids between the two families and as you can imagine, it can be more than a little chaotic. But the older they get, the more enjoyable this night is together. We’ve found our groove and blended traditions and it is a highlight of our season.

There was a moment where we weren’t sure they would be able to find the chimes as their home is under a serious remodel. And when I told the kids we may not have them they were more than a little disappointed. And the good news is after some years of practice and aging kids – we don’t sound too bad!

The kids opted to exchange their sibling gifts on Christmas eve as opposed to Christmas morning which I love because they weren’t distracted by any other gifts – they were focused on each other and so excited to share with one another. They were all so tender and cute as they gave and accepted gifts – they were all very thoughtful with what they gave. I give Hallie props because she orchestrated most of it, taking kids to the store to shop and helping them out – this required no parent involvement. Out of all the gifts from Christmas – these may be my favorite reactions.

I don’t think they know it yet, but they are forging some of their greatest friendships right now. Right now they view each other as siblings but the older they get, the more that will shift to friends.

It was a beautiful and peaceful evening – made even more peaceful since we didn’t have to put anything together for Christmas morning! Steve and I got everything ready and then had a quiet moment by the tree before calling it a night. I loved Christmas eve as a kid and I love it even more as an adult. And those brief moments where we sat on the couch anticipating the next morning was the perfect way to button up the evening.

Bass Pro Santa…

Once a year we pretend like we’re outdoorsman and we make our way to the Bass Pro Shop for the Winter Wonderland and Santa Vista – he’s by far the best santa in our area.

We were talking as we walked into the store today that COVID has changed a lot for Santa visits – and probably in a good way. Last year, Bass Pro had plexi glass in front of Santa – this year they removed the plexi glass and had the kids sit on a bench in front of him. After the picture, they could turn around on the bench and talk with Santa. You may not get the classic crying on Santa lap photo with this set up, but you also won’t have Santa needing a knee replacement at the end of the season!

Another major change with COVID is the reservation system. There is no waiting in line – we signed up for a time online and walked right in. The drawback is people have to plan in advance to see him – they can’t just stop by and wait. It was a quick process this year – rather enjoyable!

And who can walk in Bass Pro shop without taking a tour of the store?! Not us! We had to see the fish, ride the elevator, see the animals, pretend to ride the ATVs…the usual in our annual visit. For an hour in December, we are outdoorsman. At least we imagine what life might be life if we were… my dad and brothers would be proud!

Gingerbread houses…

We’re making our way through the obligatory Christmas traditions – the ones that will surely fall by the wayside as soon as these kids get a little older – but right now, they’re at the very top of these kids’ lists!

Gingerbread houses have never been something that we’ve done in our home, but each and every year we find ourselves making them.

We have a friend and neighbor who is most definitely the “fun mom” because she’s hosted this event the last couple years and I’m grateful she’s been so willing because my kids have loved it. (They used to make gingerbread houses in school and haven’t done that in a couple years) She invites everyone in the neighborhood, we all bring candy to share and she has the graham crackers hot glued, with bags of frosting ready to go. It’s a little crazy – and even more messy, but it’s always a good time.

Briggs is shockingly patient in his traditional building style. He may or may not have eaten more frosting than he put on his house.

Bennett was one of the first people finished – which is par for the course. And yet, in his quick execution, he was very precise and somewhat minimalistic in his candy choice compared to his friends.

Cannon surprised me because he spent all his time on the landscaping and very little time on his house – but he did manage to fill his house with marshmallows which was a very strategic move.

The kids are out of school now for the whole week leading up to Christmas so I’m sure we’ll cross a couple more things off the Christmas bucket list!

Christmas gift…

Every year, there are a couple gifts that I’m really excited to give – this sign happened to be one of them this year. In Steve’s family, we rotate which sibling we give to and this year we gave to his youngest sister. She is a mother to five boys and this is their family motto. I had the idea to turn that motto into a large wooden sign with each letter cut from wood. (similar to some signs I’ve previously made shown below).

It’s been a while since I’ve made one of these and now my wheels are turning again for all the holiday signs I want to make!

The ornament…

Cannon came home right before Christmas break with a special decorated white paper bag. I recognized the bag. I get one every year from my elementary aged kids and it’s usually some type of ornament. I usually convince the kids to let me wait to open it until Christmas – but Cannon was relentless, he wanted me to open it right now. I pushed him off a couple times but he kept following me around with this bag. I realized there was no way he was going to wait until Christmas, so we sat down together and I opened it.

I found his cute little hand print painted on a glass ornament. Its a classic, I think I have one for every kid. He immediately wanted to put it on the tree, and he quickly left the room. A few minutes later, I could hear him discussing how to hang it. I yelled from the other room, “Cannon, you’re going to need to find a hook to hang it.” A few minutes later, I could still hear him in the other room and he hadn’t found a hook. I told him to hold tight and I would grab a string to hang it from. Minutes later, I walked into the living room ready to hang his ornament and I saw him kneeling on the ground.

What I didn’t see right away were the tears streaming down his face, but I saw him holding a small broom, sweeping up something. As I got down on his level to see what he was doing I saw his broken ornament. He looked at me with tear filled eyes and I could see his broken heart. The gift he was so excited to give and to hang on the tree was broken – he was broken. Sobbing. He couldn’t wait for me to find a hook or to grab some string. He hung his delicate ornament on a few needles from our fake tree. It held for approximately two seconds before tumbling off the tree and smashed against the wood floors.

My mom heart broke. Perhaps if it had been broken two weeks down the road, it would have been an easier loss. But he had just been so excited to give his gift.

Shortly after, I had to go pick up Hallie and after picking her up I had the thought to run to a store and pick up another glass ornament. I ran into Wal-mart and started walking up and down the isles of the holiday section. It was completely picked over. The ornament section was empty. At this point, we were just a week before Christmas and everything seemed to be cleaned out. I kept walking the isles. Not just the ornament isles. Every. Single. Holiday. Isle. And wouldn’t you know it, on some random, empty isle, there was a discarded box of 8 clear glass ornaments. Christmas miracle.

You should’ve seen his face when I walked in the door and showed him the ornaments. Crisis averted. We painted his hand (we actually had enough ornaments that all the kids made one) and drew little snowmen. This is the Christmas magic I wrote about recently. He may soon forget that he broke his ornament – but his look of disappointment is forever etched in my mind – enough so that I made an impromptu trip to the store to show him how important his gift was to me.