It took me a while, but I finally got all the pictures from Christmas uploaded to the blog (I accidentally put them on different computers, making that task a lot more difficult than it should have been), pared them down to fewer than my 30 favorites, and finished this post...and backdated it so that it forever appears in the right year :)
PRESENTS FOR JESUS:
Isn't it always the way that our children, in their innocence and honesty, teach us? I made sure that the first book we opened was one that talked about why we give, receive, open presents on Christmas. I talked to them about how each gift is meant to remind us of the greatest gift - Jesus. They are big into birthday parties right now, and so they turned to me and asked, "But if it is Jesus' birthday, what will we give him?" Hmmm...good question. I asked them for their ideas (they thought a book would be best), suggested it was something to think about, and put them to bed (secretly hoping they would forget...because I was convicted...and I didn't want to be). They didn't forget, and between that being a popular topic of conversation in the next few days, and this article, I was pushed over the edge of conviction. We needed to give Jesus something for His birthday. The twins and I decided that showing Jesus' love would be the best gift. I asked them what they wanted to do to show Jesus' love for Christmas and Ryan responded, "Paint cards for the Grandpas and Grandmas." We take them to the Assisted Living where our church does quarterly services. We had just been there, and the kids really liked the idea of a bunch of Grandparents to love on them :) So they painted cards. Lots. And then I sent them to the nursing home (I was a wee bit selfish and sent them to the one in MA where I used to work). In the cards was this picture:
I wish I could show my favorite out-takes from the photo shoot...but there were too many :) I'm so thankful my children were thoughtful enough to want to give to others. Lucas and I will do a better job for future years of thinking of ways to give to Jesus for His birthday!
I love Christmas Eve. I'm still working on our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. We've tried a few things each year, but I want something that we have every year that my children always connect with Christmas Eve. This year we did White Chili. It was easy (throw everything into the crock pot - totally what I'm looking for since we generally have a lot going on that day), but I'm not sure it's the meal I want. Suggestions would be appreciated...
Then off to our Christmas Eve service at church. It is one of my favorite services - the music, the message, the candle-lighting at the end. This was the first year I was able to be in the entire service because the kids were SO good (a few notes I want to remember: them crunching on the candy canes they got during the children's message. They didn't know to LICK them. Allie singing, and when I told her she needed to stop and be quiet she responded, "But Allie LOVES to sing!" Ryan lying on his stomach, below the pews, coloring. Allie almost falling asleep half in the aisle.). Another favorite thing, the last few years both of our families (or the majority of both) have been there! This year, my SIL's parents also came! So fun.
After, everyone came back to our house for the cousins to open presents.
See all the different family members there? Best part of Christmas.
Allie feeding H some of the (fake) grapes we gave them.
Allie & Ry-guy playing with the toys they gave their cousins.
D checking to see if there is anything she missed!
Nana & Poppy with ALMOST all of the grandchildren
note: this isn't the best of the pictures, but I really love what Allie is doing in this one, so it might be my favorite :)
Afterwards, my parents, my brother, Lucas and I got everything ready. Presents wrapped, food started, It's A Wonderful Life watched (as you can see in the picture).
Before church, the twins opened their stockings. They are young enough that unwrapping takes for-ev-er, so I didn't want to even try to unwrap everything AND get to church on time! It worked out because they weren't even interested in opening presents. They thought they were all for Baby Jesus! The only stockings thing got funny at church though. Lucas asked all of the kids to bring their favorite present for the children's message. My children showed up with magnets and toothpaste...granted they really LOVE brushing their teeth, so it was a legitimate favorite. But everyone definitely laughed when Allie held proudly lifted up the tube and yelled, "Toothpaste!"
After church we ate. Then the kids napped. Then they had snack. Then we opened presents (it was almost 4 before we really got started. I think my kids might be the only ones in the world who said, "After I finish my snack." in response to, "Are you ready to open presents?" Once they got started, they were so excited though!
From Nana & Poppy - a really cool table. I'm so excited!
Among their favorite gifts: backpacks from Nana & Poppy, a playhouse they can color from us, and guitars from Papa & Gigi. My favorite quote from Ry-guy: "A guitar! I wanted one all my life!"
Jamming with Daddy & Uncle Matt.
Today the Christmas decorations have started to come down. Another Christmas is officially over. Allie keeps saying things like, "Not THAT Christmas tree! It's my favorite decoration in the whole world!" It makes me sad that it is making them sad. BUT, now it is a new year and there are plenty of adventures waiting for us!