I look forward with anticipation for Christmas every year...not just the day, but the whole sha-bang. I am blessed to have married into a family that celebrates their Christmas on Christmas-eve. This way, we are able to celebrate with my side of the family on Christmas day. It works out beautifully. We had an awesome Christmas Eve, starting with an amazing meal made by my father-in-law. His food is so delicious, and we all look forward to it every year. This year, after dinner, we headed to their church for the Christmas Eve service, because Declan's little sister, Leigha, who is 12 was in the program. It was quite apparent that this year would be her last, and she is growing out of this sort of thing...the look of pure "I'm too cool for this" was strewn about her face the entire time, and we all sort of laughed and chuckled because when she was 6 years old and in the play, she was adorable, and loved it. Oh what a 6 year difference can do to a girl, :). I have to say, that the kids play really did speak to me...this one song, "You can have my room, Jesus" was the sweetest thing, and I really did have a few tears in my eyes seeing about six of my students up there singing these songs about Christ.
After all of this, we headed back to the house for our gift giving. I think there is something so magical about doing this at night, which is why I love this night so much. For a while, it was pretty amazing, but it did start to seem like we weren't making a dent. With our growing family, that's just simply the case, though. It started to feel rushed, so we are thinking that maybe next year we may stop doing the Christmas Eve service so we can relax and take more time doing the exchanging. My in-law's did something really special for all of us, and it meant a whole ton to us all. They are paying our way to our family vacation this summer to the Outer Banks! We are totally stoked, because this was a bit of a burden, of course we would have figured out a way, but now we really don't have to. What an amazing gift! We're so blessed.
After all that fun, Declan and I went home and did our exchange. We have set a sort-of, kind-of money limit, and also say "it must stuff into your stocking". That was the extent of our gift-giving this year. From that, I got some awesome lotion and antibacterial soap for my desk(s) at school, favorite candies, the new Adele CD (it rocks, get it.), and a hot pink inCase for my iPhone. Declan got the Jason Mraz CD, earmuffs, his favorite pen, new t-shirts, mints, and a gift card to Subway. It was fun sticking to a budget and fun continuing our own little 2nd year tradition of opening gifts to eachother on Christmas Eve.
Christmas morning came way too fast. This is where we head over to my parents for Cinnamon buns and Coffee (usually Egg Nog, but someone couldn't find it this year). The excitement was apparent, and especially all over my little niece's faces. We had an awesome time of exchanging, and Kyra was a great help in giving out presents and helping open them too :-) Declan and I got our dining room table from my parents (as you all know), and weren't expecting any more. We still did get some awesome gifts, though. We're so blessed. We no longer have to get into a cold bed at night, because my parents got us the heated mattress pad. That thing rocks. Declan is now sporting his first Westbrook jersey, courtesy of Jim and Kesh. He is SO pumped about it, and after today's huge, huge, amazingly awesome win....he couldn't imagine a better time to have his own Eagles Jersey. We got a Caphalon bakeware set that I never received when we got hitched...so I love that. We also got some clothing, Heroes on DVD, and my favorite...the Entertainment Book.
After all this excitement, we headed to my dad's parents...our grandparents, and Kyra and Kylie's great-grandparents for a traditional Christmas dinner, and of course, more gift giving. The highlight of the entire day, for me, was playing Apple to Apples, asking Would you Rather questions, and playing Imaginiff with my entire family until 11pm. It was a really great Christmas and most of all, I just love being with both sides of my family. It always makes me realize how blessed I am to have family's that love the Lord and love each other.
*all photos are from Christmas morning at my parents house.