The Christmas of 2016 was Christmas # sixty-two for me. It was also Christmas # forty-four with Ed and I as a married couple, Christmas # thirty-eight as a married couple with children, and Christmas # ten as a married couple with grandchildren. That’s a lot of Christmas celebrations! Bare with me as I attempt to document the most recent of those celebrations, via this blog…
I began Christmas Eve in a nostalgic mood. It all started on Saturday morning, when one of those “memories” popped up in my Facebook feed, and I watched a video I’d made a few years ago. Watching the slide show, of so many past Christmases, triggered some tears, and they continued to fall, off and on, throughout the day. (It’s also possible I was having a hormonal moment) So many of the people in that video are no longer with us–all of our parents, a favorite uncle, a favorite cousin… I cooked and cried, as I thought about the years past.
Because I was feeling nostalgic, I decided to go over to my late mother-in-law’s house to borrow her Christmas china to use for our Christmas dinner, the following day. (We often use paper plates) Her china was still sitting in the china cabinet, even though she’s been deceased for over three years. As usual, “Trouble”, the cat who still lives alone at the house, met me at the driveway, so I gave her a bowl of milk. I returned home, and began washing dinner plates as memories of Christmases past still flooded my mind.
I went ahead and set the table with the china, as I washed and dried the plates. I also used my mother-in-law’s stainless steel flatware on the holiday table. Believe it or not, after I’d finished setting the table, our daughter and her family showed up bearing a gift–a set of Christmas china–for me! There’s an interesting story behind this gift, which was actually from Ed, but I won’t take time to tell it today. Let’s just say I sure was surprised, and it made me cry some more! Ed pitched in and helped wash the new plates, while I reset the table with my new china… (if you look at the table, below, you’ll see I left my mother-in-law’s platter on the table, along with her salt and pepper shakers)
The highlight of my Christmas Eve turned out to be the candlelight service we attended that night. Believe it or not, it was my first time attending a Christmas Eve candlelight service. Our oldest son had been asked to deliver the evening message, and it was one of his best, yet. His message was followed by the candle lighting part of the service. This is where things got a little bit precarious in the church. Our daughter-in-law was at the service with our two oldest grandsons, and she had two of her young nephews with her, as well. Picture, if you will, four little boys, all with lit candles, inside of a church! At one point, the candle table became a little shaky while one of the nephews was trying to light his candle. Thanks to Christina’s sharp reflexes, she was able to avert a possible crisis by quickly steadying the wobbly table! We all breathed a sigh of relief.
Our Christmas Day began bright and early, at six o’clock. Thankfully, I woke up in a better mood, and we quickly set about the business of getting the turkey in the oven. I sent the Christmas ham across the yard to our daughter’s house to bake in her oven, since my oven would be tied up with the turkey. Ed and I were invited to eat Christmas breakfast with them, and we did.
I planned a late lunch because some were attending Sunday services at ten. We sat down to eat around one-thirty, and finished in the kitchen just before three. We were just getting around to dessert when our oldest son joined us, late. He’d gone to visit the residents of the assisted living facility where he holds Sunday services, each week.
Because we almost forgot to take ‘the crazy hat family photo’ the past couple of years, I told everyone let’s do that first, this year. This has become a family tradition with our family for the past several years, and it’s always fun to pick out a different hat to wear each year. I usually add one new hat to the collection, each Christmas. Of course, there’s always one grandchild who refuses to wear a hat, and this year it was Chase’s turn. I’ve also noticed our oldest son wears those same reindeer antlers every year…
I also did something new this year, that I’d like to see turn into another family tradition. I baked a small cake which I designated as Jesus’ birthday cake. It was a lemon cake, decorated with colored sprinkles and candles. Our youngest grandson, Evan, loves singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles, so he was excited about this. All of the older grandchildren happily joined in, too.
Sometime after three, we began the gift opening portion of Christmas Day by letting the children open their gifts first, one at a time. About the time the adults were finally getting ready to play the “Dirty Santa” game, daughter-in-law, Jennifer, got a phone call. She was needed for a medical emergency at the home of her grandparents. (Her grandfather had just been released from the hospital, on Christmas Eve, after spending the past month battling pneumonia.) We put the gift opening on hold while Jennifer went to give her grandfather his breathing treatment.
The weather here was a sunny and a warm 75 degrees on Christmas Day, so everyone retreated outdoors while Jennifer was gone. (We all wore shorts and had two a/c units running all day long) The older children enjoyed playing with granddaughter, Madison’s, new basketball goal, while Evan, the youngest, enjoyed driving his new Jeep around the yard–right up until the power switch broke 😦 (His ‘crafty’ dad has since been able to replace the broken switch, thank goodness)
It was almost suppertime by the time Jennifer returned, so we decided to eat (again) before the adults opened their gifts. By that time, it was after seven o’clock. Talk about dragging out Christmas all day! Of course, by then, the children were wishing they had more gifts to open, too.
The adults played our usual two rounds of “Dirty Santa”, but not much stealing went on this year. I’m not sure if everyone really loved the gifts they received or they were just too tired to steal from anyone, by the time we finally got to open our gifts. I was so tired, I forgot to take any pictures, except for this one, when we first started the game.
It was well after ten, Christmas night, when Ed and I finally finished in the kitchen and fell into bed, shortly before eleven. To say we were exhausted would be an understatement, but it was a most enjoyable and fulfilling day! Nothing compares to being surrounded by your entire family, especially at Christmas. Ed and I have been very blessed, to have our entire family with us every Christmas, for the past forty-four Christmases, with the exception of the one year Jennifer had to work. That’s almost unheard of!
Just think, only 362 more days, and Christmas will be here again… As quickly as time is passing, perhaps I should just leave all of these decorations in place 🙂 It’s a nice thought, anyway.