We have had the most wonderful and exhausting couple of days! I love, love, love Christmas, and all our family traditions are what make it so special. On Christmas Eve we went out for Chinese food, of course. Sammy was very brave and tried some shrimp, but Joshy mostly ate those little fried sugar roll things (thanks, Aunt Amy!). His favorite part was spearing them with chopsticks. Afterward we went back to my parents' house for a new tradition -- everyone brought Christmas cookies and a Christmas story to share, and we sang Christmas songs to go with each one. (Apparently our old tradition of acting out the nativity scene had become a little too farcical for my mom's taste. There was admittedly a lot of snickering involved...) Sammy and I had made dee-licious gingerbread boys, and Sammy read "Beyond Bethlehem" (a book about what was happening at the time of Christ's birth in the Book of Mormon) to the family. He did a great job!
That night Dan and I continued our own tradtion, enjoying each others' company while watching "A Christmas Story" and "helping" Santa get ready for Christmas morning.
Sammy was bursting at the seams to get downstairs and see what Santa brought, but we literally had to drag Joshy out of bed. For some reason that kid just does not like opening presents, or really have any attention focused on him. But we got him downstairs, and Sammy was overjoyed to see that Santa had gotten him the coolest bike EXACTLY like the one he'd seen in Walmart!
We told Joshy Santa had left us a note saying his present was downstairs, but he refused to go down and look at it. Dan picked him up and carried him, but all reluctance vanished when he saw his present: his very own trampoline!
It's very gratifying when your cranky, non-present-excited child is bouncing up and down saying "This -- trampoline -- is -- the -- best -- present -- EVER!" And follows that up with a "You -- are -- so -- jealous!" to his big brother. Well, that part was more funny than gratifying, and in Josh's defense, he's very generous in sharing his cool toy with Sam. After we were finished opening the mountain of presents from very generous grandparents, aunts, and uncles, we got dressed and headed over to my parents' house again for more Christmas fun.
I admit I got a little carried away with Eliza's Christmas outfit. I couldn't find anything that really appealed to me at the store, so I decided to make her a tu-tu that would match her cute polka dot sweater my mom brought from England. The leg warmers from Aunt Sarah were PERFECT with it, and I couldn't resist adding curly ribbon to her pigtails as the finishing touch. What a cute little sugar plum fairy!
We had a wonderful day with our family. We had invited a few of our new Bhutanese friends to our Christmas dinner, but because of the weather -- total whiteout blizzard conditions -- we had to call and cancel. An hour or two later, however, the weather cleared enough for Amy and Dan P. to brave the roads and they were able to come after all! I think that was really a miracle. Mom and my sisters and I spent most of the day in the kitchen getting all ready for dinner, and we had such a fun time together. Because the Dulals (the families that joined our Christmas dinner) are Hindu and therefore vegetarian, we had to get a little creative with our dinner planning. I made minestrone, which turned out delicious, Emily made yummy stuffed peppers, and we had lots of fruits and veggies. It was probably the healthiest Christmas dinner we ever had, which was a good thing because we had all spent most of the day eating fistfuls of chocolate...
After dinner my dad dressed up in the Santa suit and we taught them about a few of our Christmas traditions. Everyone got to open presents, and it was really fun. Sammy and Joshy had used all of their birthday money to buy presents for Tila and Hari, the boys who are just their ages. Sammy was SO excited for Tila and Hari to open their presents. It was a great experience for them.
You can see lots and lots of pictures in the Facebook album I just created by clicking here.
This Christmas was not without its challenges. The weather was a big one -- we got stuck in the snow trying to leave my parents' house Christmas Eve, and then in the same place Christmas morning. The roads were just awful and we hadn't noticed how bare my tires are. We made it to the end of my parents' street and got totally stuck, but luckily my dad and sister drove by just then on the way to pick up my other sister. They got us unstuck momentarily, but then we slid deeper in. Luckily (again!) my brother's best friend happened by in an SUV with a tow rope and towed us into my parents' driveway. Yay for small towns where everyone who drives by is someone you know! :) We had chains in the back of the van, so we made it home safely in the evening. I have to say, though, it never entered my mind for a moment to stay home -- I love Christmas with my family WAY too much!
Poor Dan is also so sick -- he has nasty bronchitis that has just been getting worse and worse, but he was a real trooper. Eliza's also really congested and fussy (for her, anyway, but really not too much), but she had lots of people to love her and take care of her yesterday.
But despite these challenges, this Christmas made me so grateful for my family, and for all our blessings. We always have enough and to spare, even when we're struggling -- warm homes and clothes, food to eat, and so much more. We are blessed to live in a land of peace and security. We have the gospel, and the promise of being together forever. I really missed Carissa this Christmas -- she loved everything about the season -- but I know we will be with her again. What greater blessing could you ask for?