Christmas felt absolutely perfect this year. Just full of that unique joy and peace and excitement and love and fun that is Christmas. I was a little dubious Christmas Eve morning, when my mom called to ask for a recipe and I teared up thinking about how EVERYBODY (except Morgan and wife) were together there in Colorado and we were missing out completely. But as any grown woman does, I dried my tears and got busy cleaning and baking and preparing for our own Christmas Eve Celebration. As I’ve mentioned, I love my traditions, so I invited two families over to our Christmas Eve dinner and program--that way I get to be in charge, and I feel in my element.
Although it seemed that the Ruiz family was doomed not to make it, with lost keys (which they found over an hour later in the dumpster!) and a car that wouldn’t start once they finally did find the keys, the evening bounced back once they arrived and the party really started. Since I babysit their kids, it wasn’t too hard to get them prepped in advance for the Nativity program.
For weeks they had been excited about their roles, and whenever we sang a Christmas carol that mentioned an angel or a shepherd, they would say, “Alex, that’s you,” or “Elodie—the angel, you’re the angel!” And little three-year-old Lanna would have to add that she and Hazel were going to be the sheep! Xander was at school for most of this excitement, but Joseph doesn’t actually have any lines to memorize, so xander seemed willing to fill the role. Until it came time to put on the costume. I don’t know if he took issue with the fact that it resembled a dress or just wasn’t in the mood to be in front of a crowd, but he was not feeling the role of Joseph. At all. After a little conversation about how silly it would look if I had to play Joseph with my big belly and reminding him that sometimes, we do things not because we want to but because it makes other people happy, namely me, the show went on. Luckily, the donkey was hilarious and helped Xander snap out of his funk and into the giggles pretty quickly. That and Hazel the sheep who just wanted to grab the “Baby!” (her favorite and best-enunciated word) right out of his manger, causing Joseph and Mary to switch seamlessly from their role as adoring new parents to vigilant manger guards. Everyone had a great time with it and I don’t think I was the only one who felt the resounding peace and joy as we read the real story of Christmas from the scriptures.
After regaining our strength by heavily sampling the treat platter, it was chime time. Ah, it felt like home. Did I mention how much I appreciated Aaron’s Christmas present this year? I love seeing the excitement on the chimers faces as the tune is really coming together and we finish the song and they just want to do it again! Christmas music is the best!
We ended the night by reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and leaving Santa his plate of cookies before saying goodbye to our friends and tucking the little ones all snug in their beds. I just love how excited our kids get! For me, the anticipation of Christmas morning is about as much fun as the real thing!
I think that’s why the Christmas morning breakfast in the bedroom before discovering the stockings and presents is a must for me. It draws out the anticipation of the morning! This year, we enjoyed Alaskan-grown, Alaskan-made reindeer sausage in addition to our usual fare of orange rolls and hash brown breakfast bake. Do you think eating reindeer for Christmas is festively fitting or atrociously appalling? Xander and Elodie were obviously savoring every bite!
The anticipation of lining up on the stairs…
I am so glad that Xander hasn’t grown out of his excitement. His reaction was perfect—“Ahh! Toy Story Train Lego Set—this is what I wanted all year!”
Elodie’s gratitude and excitement were equally endearing. Man, is there anything better than watching your kids enjoy Christmas morning so thoroughly?
Hazel enjoyed her cell phone from Santa and opening presents, too, but not as much as she enjoyed the contents of Xander’s stocking that he left on the floor! I loved watching Xander and Elodie open the presents they had gotten for each other. “Wow, a tank, I love it!” “I thought you would like it!” “Elodie, you are the best sister. I really wanted this!!” “It’s beautiful, Xander! I wanted a ring just like this!” And so on. Aw, absolutely adorable. In every way, it was just what Christmas morning should be.
Then we all put on our Christmas best and headed to Church. A young man who had just returned from a mission to South Africa spoke, and then we had a wonderful Christmas program. Perhaps it felt especially wonderful because I was up singing with the choir while Gine Kirk juggled Hazel and the other two! The chapel was packed, and as I looked out over the crowd, I just felt such love for the wonderful members of the branch up here. After sacrament meeting was over, it was like no one wanted to leave yet, even though we were only having the one hour of Church (and it had gone over by at least a half an hour). Everyone just milled around, exchanging Christmas greetings and presents and cards and treats. I felt so at home and so loved. Aaron’s home teaching companion, who is about to leave on a mission, has been like an uncle to the kids and brought each of them the perfect present. I think he gave Xander his 7th Lego set of the day, and he was no less grateful than with the first. He had that Toy Story Army guy jeep built before our dinner guests even arrived. The Davis family, with their 6 children, 4 of them Lego-loving boys, spent the afternoon with us. The kids played and played and we munched appetizers and prepped dinner and chatted and everyone enjoyed a perfect Christmas afternoon. We are so grateful for the friends we’ve made in Alaska and for this, the most wonderful time of year.