Christmas in a new home means everything is a bit different than the babes have had their whole lives. They are pretty set on keeping traditions, but we changed things up a bit for the better this year, for sure. They slept in the family room downstairs and came upstairs to find that we'd moved all of the gifts from the front room to the den. After all was said and done, we all agreed that the den is where Christmas should happen! Good call!
5:45 came early, but it brought smiles and anticipation! Notice Quayd's gift, wrapped in his High School blanket. He said that it was his gift wrapping since he doesn't know how to do it anyway.
The girls were very excited to slide that pocket door open and find the gifts and the music that we always have playing, Mannheim Steamroller, but all new was a fire, and the small snowman tree and half the floor filled with gifts.
Grace suggested that since they aren't little kids anymore, this year, they should have "Grown-up" candies. She got her own box of Andes Mints.
Everyone got gift cards to their favorite places... the girls got Rue 21 and Quayd got Subway Subs.
I love it when one gets excited for what another receives!
A tie! I tried not to "put pressure" on Quayd by buying lots of missionary things. But, a tie isn't pressure, it's just a tie. Quayd's gift to me, however....
ZJ was so thoughtful with her gifts. All three of the kids worked and saved their money, so this is the first year that I've not had to take them shopping and buy their gifts for each other. They all did great and were very thoughtful in their choices for each other. ZJ made a sign for Quayd's room that said, "When I'm asked who is my hero, I say YOU." It had a Q in the Superman shield. She adores her big brother.
Quayd hugged her for a very long time and Zee responded, "That's the best hug I've ever had." It was a sweet moment.
Grace and Zee both gave Doug jams and salsas. He was very pleased, especially when he put some on his German Pancakes at brunch!
Zeej bought Grace the top that she'd seen and fallen in love with while they were at the mall together. She was one happy sister!
More hugs came as a direct result! I love this!
Zee really touched me with her thoughtfulness. She came up with two Christmas trees that she'd crafted herself. They were adorable. She presented them and said, "I made two because Aunt Carol collects trees too, so you both need one." They are adorable and will be perfect in our collections!
The highlight of the morning for me, however, was when I opened Quayd's gift... not because it was my gift, but because of what it meant. He gave me two boxes of gift cards, a box of stationery and two pens, calling it my "Starter Kit", so that I would have something to write to him on when he leaves on his mission. It was thoughtful and promising. He mentioned "when I'm on my mission" many times throughout the morning, realizing that he could well be gone next Christmas. It was sweet and yes, I cried.
This big box has been sitting under the tree for three weeks now and no one had a clue who it belonged to. The kids were clueless! I told them it was for B, which meant nothing to them because this year's gifts had B, H, M, S and P on them.
B=Doug - Boss, Best Friend/Dad/Husband, Babe, Bank
S=Sophia... they had all sorts of S words, thinking it was each of them
P= ZJ - Persistant, Pretty, Peacemaker
M= Grace - Modest, Musical, Middle and a few more
H=Quayd - Hardworking, Handsome, Hungry
But, this gift didn't really have a letter on it. They each hoped it was their own, but Doug announced that he needed help opening it and they knew it was a family gift. We have entered the electronics era and bought a Wii, nine games, two guitars, two steering wheels and a whole bunch more. They were pretty happy campers.
Figuring it all out. Their parents are clueless! They were on their own, but seemed to all know what they were doing.
Doug and I laughed hard about this... about a week ago, I told him that, aside from the Wii, I really hadn't bought them anything "fun" this year. They wanted clothes. They never gave me a real list. It was always clothes or money. No one had a special want this year. So, I decided at the last hour to buy them adult coloring books and pencils. Doug looked at me like I was crazy when I told him. They are $20 a piece. And the kids are not little kids. I explained that it's all the rage this year. He just shook his head and said, "Okay???" Well... we laughed hard this morning... who needs a Wii when you have coloring books!? The girls colored all afternoon! Quayd's Star Wars coloring book was a hit. Score one for the mom!
Notice Go-Go in every picture, thinking that the big pillows were for him!
Zulu didn't like the excitement and stayed away until the unwrapping was done.
The biggest highlight of the day, for us all, was when I shared the best gift of all. A book called "For the Brand", which had been compiled this past year by three of Doug's cousins. It is a book filled with uplifting stories and examples of the remarkable character of Doug's grandparents, father, aunts and uncles' lives. We reviewed the book together, reading in detail, the chapter about Doug's father. This book is inspirational. After an hour of visiting and reading the book together, Quayd then asked for a turn at it and spent an hour just reviewing it on his own. We will spend the next few weeks of Home Evenings reading each and every word. The kids were thrilled! But, even moreso, Doug was moved to tears as he learned things about his own father that he'd never known. It is a treasure.
Listening to and discussing "For the Brand"
There was much napping throughout the day, off and on by all of us!
This was a different year for me, personally. I have had many emotions on the Christmas day. One... No word from Kelly. Two... thinking about grands and wondering how their Christmas was. Aylabelle was on my mind, as I was anxious for Liza to send photos and video of her first Christmas that she is old enough to really understand. Three...the thought of this being Quayd's last Christmas at home, if he chooses to serve a mission. Four...the thrill of our first Christmas in the new home. And many other things on my mind.
Then, there was my mother. Mom lost Boyd in July. My brother has disappeared off the face of the earth since days after Boyd's death. Mom has not heard a word from him. We've done some checking on him with no luck. But, this is Rick, so we never know what to expect from him. I did think that he'd at least call her on Thanksgiving. Nada. I was certain that he'd show up on Christmas Eve, knowing that Mom is alone. (She wasn't alone last night because she invited Liza and Buddy over for Christmas Eve dinner and they had a lovely evening together. I'm so thankful that they are near her.) Anyway... no word from Rick.
So, I have really been concerned about my mom spending the holiday all alone. That being so, I decided to send her photos and video texts throughout the day. It's been months and months of trying to teach her how to open a text, via phone, and she finally has gotten it figured out this past month or two. But, she does not understand how to text back, even though I've tried walking her through it. She can do it if I'm on the phone telling her how, but not on her own. AND she always calls me the second she gets a text. So, all morning and throughout the day, I would text her. We were still opening gifts when she called, so I didn't answer. I'd just send her another text. After a few attempts, I got a text from my mother! "Good! Cute! Wow! Fun! All one word, but she figured it out! So, we texted all day long! I sent her one text that said, "Look' at you, texting! Go, Mom!" She was quite proud of herself. We did talk on the phone a few times, but she texted all day! How cool is that!
We grazed on food all day long. Brunch was German Pancakes, a pound of bacon and a pound of sausage, fresh pineapple, mango, strawberries, blueberries and buttermilk syrup. Leftovers from last night and I can't even begin to mention how much chocolate and candy were eaten.
I had to laugh so hard at Doug. I'd made the pretzel turtles (where you bake the pretzel with a Rolo on it and then put a pecan on them right out of the oven.) Doug ate about 30 of them, literally since last night. One of the girls mentioned that Dad doesn't like sugar and I said, "Oh, that is so far from wrong! He's the one who's eaten a whole bag of Rolos in one day!" Doug said, "What Rolos? I haven't eaten Rolos." I said, "What do you think is between the thirty pretzels and pecans that you've been eating all day long... whole wheat flour?" The last four are still sitting on the platter now that he knows what he's been eating.
Grace said the kindest thing this afternoon, "Mom, you always make Christmas perfect... it's spiritual, it's inspiring and it's fun." That was all the thanks I needed for this year's effort!
We spent the afternoon napping, grazing on food, watching new movies, and I started reading my new book, Maisie Dobbs. Layne and Julie came over for a short visit in the evening and the kids have now hooked up the Wii downstairs. They have been singing, dancing, racing, mostly being very noisy all evening! I'm guessing that's where they'll spend most of the holiday vacation.
It's been a wonderful day. I feel blessed... very blessed... to have such a wonderful family, a wonderful life... filled with the gospel of Jesus Christ, good friends and family and more blessings than I can count. Life is good.