Since Epiphany was this week, I’m justifying my final Christmas post. It’s still *technically* the last week of Christmas. Right? We had a spectacular break full of sibling arguments, hot chocolate, arguments about whose hot chocolate was better, home/DIY projects, movies, date nights (lots of date nights), family, presents and days in PJs.
It’s safe to say I look forward to that two weeks all the year long.
Here’s our break in pictures with a bit of chatty from me. Enjoy!
It’s all fun and games until somebody gets the flu. Poor Aunt Jennifer. We found out after we arrived at Scott’s mom’s house that our sister-in-law was down and out and wouldn’t be joining us. John Paul said, “Well, more chocolate for us.” Good to know he’s got that empathy thing down. For what it’s worth, Jen, *I* missed you!
Granny had quite the food spread, the fun food crafts and present opening. The kids were in heaven. I’m not sure anybody slept much, but they sure had a great time playing together. It’s been a few years since we ventured to Bowie to spend Christmas with his mom. We opted to go the weekend before and while the drive back was zero fun, the happy faces on my kids proved that the trip was a success. And, to think, next year we’ll be adding two more kids to that grandkid picture. Aunt Jennifer and I are due six weeks apart. Woo hoo!!
Christmas Trees on 360. On Christmas Eve, we headed down to Loop 360 to check out the Christmas trees and snap some photos for the boys’ 4-H photography project. Austin is so quirky and funny. Several years ago random people started decorating these trees and now the entire roadway is filled with holiday goodness. It’s one of the things I love about living here. Traditionally, we have lunch with my parents at Homeslice (Austin’s VERY best NY-style pizza) on Christmas Eve. But, alas, they were closed because it was a Tuesday. Aaaand, so was everywhere else we called. All the Austin originals. We finally landed at Hula Hut, and even they were only open four hours!
Fancy clothes, dinner prep and an early Mass arrival. The rest of our Christmas Eve was quite lovely. We came home from lunch, prepped a few things for dinner, picked up the house, showered and changed clothes and then arrived at Mass about an hour early to secure seats. Good thing we did, because a few minutes later the church was all full! It’s the first time we’ve traveled to Christmas Eve services in the same vehicle because of napping kids. I’m writing that down because it feels like a milestone! My brother and his family joined us and I am STILL crushing on nephew Jack’s dapper hat.
Fr. Danny’s homily was poignant and beautiful, as was the feeling in that sanctuary. It felt like home and that felt really, really good. We enjoyed a great dinner at home, Mexican Stack, and it was a hit. We deviated from our usual shrimp and pasta, but the troops seemed to be okay with the switch. There was birthday singing and cake pops. Laughter and empty plates. My parents and cousin Mickey left for home and then we began our family Christmas.
This is one of those things Scott and I compromised on early on in our marriage. Coming from a Protestant background, gifts were opened on Christmas Day. Scott’s family, however, opens them on Christmas Eve and now we do the same. It’s become a beautiful tradition and I’m so glad we do it this way. We also don’t travel on Christmas Eve. That day is sacred for us and we opt to make it an immediate family thing, at our house. I suspect that tradition will evolve with time, but right now, it works for us. I will admit, as I looked over at Will opening his presents there was a tinge of “please God let me cherish this moment.” There won’t be too many more family Christmases where I’ll have all the chicks in the nest. So while I did take a fair share of photos, many more registered in my heart.
After PJs were changed and Baby Jesus’ put back in the manger, I read a short passage from the Bible about Jesus’ birth and Scott prayed over the gifts – those that made them, those that gave them and those that open them. We started doing that a few years ago and I hope it’s given our children pause to be grateful for other’s generosity. You know, before they start ripping the packages open like mad people.
If my memory serves me correctly, this captured an epic toot by Luke. His siblings were obviously amused.
After all the gifts were opened and the house fully trashed, after cookies left out and egg nog poured, we tucked five very excited kids into “bed.” Fortunately, all that gift opening wore them out and they were sound asleep in no time. The Mr. and I kissed one another good night until, at 4AM, I heard…
Yes, that would be our lovely tree. It fell. Again. This time Luke was sound asleep and played no active role in the disaster. Can I just say that at 4AM one is not super rational? Because the tree fell forward, I had the brilliant idea for Scott to turn it around so it leaned into the window and then tie it to the stairwell to keep it upright. Perfectly Griswold. And that’s exactly how it looked for five more days. We’re nothing if not trashy. The packages were soaked, but by 10am they were good as new. And, amazingly all the Whitaker children slept right through that drama.
Christmas morning didn’t come as early as I thought it would. The kids actually let us sleep until after 7. Smashing. They received some little things in their stockings and after telling us all about it, we enjoyed some Pumpkin Cranberry bread and then got to showering and cooking for the troops. My parents, cousins and brother’s family all joined us mid-morning. More presents, more cousins, more food, more playing with new toys. We were blessed with some mighty fine Texas “winter” weather, so going outside was definitely on the agenda.
All too soon, the break was over, the decorations put up and the normal routine back in place. I pray your break was just as refreshing and peace-filled as you hoped it would be. In the twelve years since we’ve become parents, I’ve learned one very important lesson: Christmas is stressful. Don’t make it more whacked out than it needs to be by making other people happy. Choose your family traditions, stick to your guns, enjoy the heck out of your family, remember why you celebrate and know that there is no such thing as the picture-perfect Christmas. God always throws you a monkey wrench.