(in chronological order)
1. Brynn's preschool Christmas program. We were one of many families juggling small siblings while trying to record video of our young performer (easily the cutest on stage) singing her heart out and ringing bells. We eat this stuff up!
2. Christmas at my brother's house in IL. Jenny made her famous lasagna (my favorite)--not to mention delicious sides and appetizers--and we all sat down together for a meal before letting the kids tear into the presents. Grandma got back into town just in time to join us, and it was a great night being with family. It ended too quickly. I also got to spend a lot of time with mom...dipping pretzels and rolling Oreo balls, so that was an added bonus.
3. Christmas Eve Open House at our place. I wasn't sure what to expect this year, but we had our largest attendance so far, around 27 people. Most of our Mt. Freedom regulars were there, and some new friends came by too... it was just wonderful to be with friends and celebrate the season and the hope we have because of it. We are so blessed by the friends God has given us.
4. Christmas morning. There is just nothing like it. Our girls had a ball, but we probably had even more fun than they did. Katy's favorite was her $5 Pooh stool, just like her sister's Dora one. And Brynn loved her bike (thanks Hewitts!), and is still riding it around the kitchen table several times a day. Watch out, or you will get run over.
5. Christmas with the Wells. We have a tradition of joining up around noon for homemade pizza and lots of holiday laying around on sofas. It's awesome. This year was certainly different, without Christy. I knew it would be hard, but it was much more difficult than I expected. So many times, its like I can imagine the things she would have said, the laughter, how she would have enjoyed giving her gifts and watching the kids open theirs. The silence can just be deafening. Not that the rest of us are silent, but its the space her words would have used up. Nothing else seems to be able to fill them. We went to the cemetery, and I was glad we did. As hard as that afternoon was at times, there is no where else I would have rather been.
6. Christmas with the Barkleys. We rode to PA in style this year, with a beautiful blue (rented) Toyota 4Runner. The sound system was a beautiful thing, and there was space enough that we didn't feel the girls' feet at the back of our necks. We appreciate our car (it's paid for!), but this was just a nice treat. We had a fun gift exchange with Jim's parents, and then Aunt Helen came down (or is it up?) for the big gift exchange we do with the extended family. This is always a fun time, especially for me as my family has never had a tradition like this. Jim's mom made a special Christmas dinner the next day and the Steelers shut-out the Browns... so that was a pretty perfect day all around. :)
7. Home. As great as everything has been, its so good to have the Christmas stuff put away and the house in order (well, for us). Jim had another four days off here at home, and that was really wonderful and relaxing for all of us. He's back to work today and Brynn was back at preschool... so we are slowly getting back into the regular routine, and recovering from all the travel.
Hope you all had a good Christmas as well!