I LOVE Christmas! Anyone who knows me even a little bit, will know how much of a holiday person I am. I just love them. I attribute my love of holidays to my growing up years. My family is FULL of traditions on almost every holiday, and they are all very, very fun traditions. I have held on to almost all of them as we have a family of our own now. They are so much fun, and they always bring us closer as a family.
We arrived in Pocatello on Wednesday night. On Thursday...Christmas Eve, we did the tradition Christmas Eve breakfast. We used to go to a place with an amazing buffet, but they are no longer there, so we now go to Butter Burr's. Grandpa came this year. He is 91 and announced that he bowled a 189 last week! He is amazing. Breakfast was so yummy, even if Sam did put a booger in my food. ;) We were all so full after breakfast that it held us over until the party at 6:00 that evening!
The rest of the day was spent wrapping like crazy. My parents bedroom looked like Santa's workshop itself. It was hilarious! We blasted the Christmas music and laughed and talked as we kicked people out of the room to wrap their presents and then later were kicked out ourselves as ours were wrapped. My mom had a cute little "no peeking" sign on her door that made a siren sound if you tried to go in the room. It was great.
The wrapping station. There was never a lack of paper, bags or bows.
The room was LOADED with wrapped gifts, 1/2 wrapped gifts, and gifts that needed to be wraped. It was truly Santa's workshop.
After wrapping, we cleaned and baked. All of the traditional Danish foods were made as well as the colored bread swirl sandwiches. At 6:00 everyone started piling in for the annual Christmas Eve dinner a.k.a. treat and appetizer sampler meal. It is my most favorite meal on earth.
Making the kleigner (spelling?) It is a Danish Christmas dessert, and they are YUMMY!
ONE of the food tables. I didn't even get the dessert table, or the drink table, or the meatball section.
There were over 40 people in the house. We played games, did the nativity, read the story of Christ's birth from the Bible, ate, and reconnected with family members we haven't seen in a while. This is one of my absolute favorite traditions. It is so heart warming to be surrounded by so many family members that I am close to. The kids are so excited at this point, and everyone just seems happy and content. There is always a fun and happy mood in the air.
The Nativity....Belnap/Hanks style.
After everyone left, it was time for everyone to open one gift. Another tradition. The gift is always new p.j.'s. I love going to bed on Christmas Eve in something new. It keeps the excitement alive. Then it is on to the traditional stocking picture. We all line up oldest to youngest and hold up our stockings. This year we had to rearrange a little to fit in the kiddos. That is followed by setting out a plate for Santa and the reindeer. Mary had it all planned out. She set the plate and cup of milk so carefully on the fireplace and placed it in just the right spot. I am sure the reindeer appreciated the carrots.
They were so excited to leave yummy treats for Santa and the reindeer. You can see the plate behind them. They were bursting with excitement at this point in the night. It was really fun.
Stocking picture. We were all nice and cozy for Christmas Eve.
I had no idea Sam put his stocking on his head. Silly boy.
Ben only got pajama bottoms, so that is what he put on for the picture.
Then we all march up the stairs for our other tradition of sleeping in the same room on Christmas Eve. The room is set up with a T.V., board games, video games, treats, books, ect. It is one big party. Yup, we range from 28 yrs old to 2 yrs old, and yes, we still slept in the same room. It is the best all-night party you could ask for. Even if some of us fell asleep before midnight this year. It was great.
Santa did his thing while Mary and Sam were still awake and wrestling with Uncle Devin and Aunt Kelsey. They were laughing so hard and the pillows were flying so fast, they never heard Santa bringing gifts down the stairs, and occasionally slipping on the hard wood stairs and shrieking a time or two, followed by fits of laughter.
We all got up at 7:00 (after having been awake since 5:00), and just like a bunch of 5 yr olds, we were giddy with excitement. My 25 yr. old brother was literally rubbing his hands together and pacing back and forth while his wife put her arms in the air and yelled Merry Christmas with so much excitement you couldn't help but feel it yourself. It was ridiculous honestly, but soooo much fun. I felt like a kid all over again. We marched down the stairs, youngest to oldest (to the Nutcracker music, as always) and Ben and I watched as Mary and Sam's eyes burst with excitement as they soaked in what Santa had left.
The rest of the morning was spent opening gifts, giving hugs of gratitude, laughing our heads off at Jessica's Yoda backpack, watching Tyler freak out over is Pistol that he had no idea he was getting, sending Devin on a treasure hunt to find his gift, and watching Mary and Sam get so excited over their new toys and gifts. I am proud to say that I totally surprised Ben this year with a GPS system that my best friend almost killed herself getting on Black Friday for me. He loves it, and I am so glad he will be able to use it for work.
Mary got a little tea party set, and she made invitations for everyone to have a tea party at different times throughout the day. Uncle Devin was a good sport.
She LOVES her leapster, as you can tell in the picture.
Sam with his favorite toy...the shake n' go extreme track! The big boys liked this one as well. ;)
From the looks of things, Ben must have been very tired by this point. hehehe
Another tradition is to get our favorite (and always sugar loaded) cereal next to the stockings, so I am sure you can guess what was for breakfast. We hung out the rest of the day, watched a movie that night, and had a nice, eventful yet somehow relaxing, Christmas together as a family. It was a day well spent.
I love Christmas, and I love the traditions. I love being home for Christmas.