Our Christmas-ing began yesterday when Nathaniel called in for a skype video chat. For years, our tradition has been to open one gift together on Christmas Eve. He had received his packages of Christmas presents that morning and we directed him as to which would be good for opening first. Nathaniel's delight at finding not one, but two airsoft pistols with ammunition was equaled only by his roommate's surprise at the ambush awaiting his return five minutes later! As Kate had so wisely said when choosing the weapons for his gift, "After all, the Army doesn't let them play with their real guns".
Our evening last night consisted of our church's Christmas Eve worship service with special music and Scripture readings. Afterward we went to the home of our friends John and Annie for food and fellowship. Our church has become an extended family for us and it is such a blessing to share special times together. The evening passed quickly in the comfortable presence of these loved ones and before we knew it, it was time to leave. Once home there was still much left to do, and Rebekah set to work on homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast while Jim, Erin and Kate had a mysterious project in the basement to finish.
The morning arrived before some of us were ready, and I quietly made my way downstairs to take care of the animals and get coffee started. Rebekah also woke early and resumed her work on the rolls, preparing them for the oven. Nathaniel called in on skype and we decided that the time had come to wake everyone- it was eight o'clock already! So we rousted everyone and gathered at the Nativity scene in order to wish our Savior a Happy Birthday before beginning our day.
Opening presents in our family means taking turns, not an all-out melee. So with Nathaniel in Iraq, we took turns opening the gifts that were under the tree and in the packages sent to the Middle East. The gifts from my Mom we all opened at the same time, all seven of us. Snuggies! we are now warm wherever we are, the frozen tundra of Pennsylvania or the winter cold of Iraq.
Each of the kids enjoys choosing and buying gifts for each of their siblings, so there are plenty of windows into their hearts under the tree. Their insight into one another is touching to see as the excitement of the giver is as great as the excitement of the recipient. Erin found the perfect hooded sweatshirt for Isaac, Rebekah got a down vest for Erin, Isaac chose bracelets for each of his sisters, Kate painted an original watercolor for each of us.
Isaac's Eagles Snuggie!
The mystery revealed- Erin designed and made a windchime/ mobile from antique silverware, a plate and a teapot. Much to the chagrin of the lady at the antique store. I adore it.
The last gift of the morning is normally chosen beforehand and is The Big Gift for the whole family. This year Jim brought home The Big Gift. Isaac opened the final gift; small, and involving lots of tissue paper, and out fell a ping pong ball! Yes, there was a ping pong table in the garage just waiting for space in the basement. The kids get a game table and I get a clean basement!
Once gifts were opened the cinnamon rolls were coming out of the oven so our attention turned to the wonderful culinary creation on which Rebekah had worked so hard last night and this morning. What wonderful, gooey, tasty-sweet confections our breakfast was! What an unparalleled blessing to have a chef in our family! The recipe turned out two 13 x 9 pans of rolls, which is far more than our family can reasonably consume in one day, so Erin ran a pan of them down to our neighbors to enrich their family morning feast.
A quiet midday followed breakfast and a ham was slipped into the oven in anticipation of friends stopping for a late lunch. A few weeks ago we'd heard from our friends, the Kuypers, from Florida. They were going to be in the area Christmas day, driving from NYC toward North Carolina, and wondered if it would be too much trouble to stop by to say hello. We insisted that they stay for a meal, as the thought of anyone eating at a roadside dive on Christmas day is too barbaric to even consider. So we were delighted to welcome the Floridians into our home for a slice of our White Christmas!
Dennis and Pam were up North in order to give their children the chance to see snow, and they arrived in Washington D.C. the day after the blizzard of 2009! The winterland Capitol was followed by a snowy NYC, and then the drive to our house. We enjoyed visiting over dinner, and then Jim suggested another winter activity for the sunshine-state kids- sledding! Erin and Isaac helped Holly and Jacob bundle up with real winter gear and they all piled into the vehicles to go to Shillington Park for a very non-Floridian experience. What a treat to give them such a memory for Christmas- God is so good to send such an early and generous snowfall for them to enjoy.
Real snow, a real hill, hooray!
Holly and Isaac were classmates in Sunday School, I watched Jacob in the
nursery at FPC in Florida... How the years have flown.
Now the evening has wandered in and I am writing on the laptop as Julie & Julia plays on the TV. The fire is burning, the lights on the tree are glowing, and the basement is sounding like a ping-pong tournament. I'm going to raid the fridge for leftovers. (And in case you didn't catch it, I'm watching a movie about a lady who blogs as I write this blog post...)
I should've had a bottle of wine ready for this movie.