Christmas was a little different for us this year. We split up our family celebrations to the weekend before Christmas with my side and the weekend after Christmas with Lance's side.
You can read a bit more about our decision to do this on my "When Christmas Makes you Cranky: 5 Survival Tips" post on DMMB. All in all, it was a good decision. But not without a few hiccups: namely my poor planning on trying to find a restaurant to eat at on Christmas Eve. We all had our hearts set on eating at our favorite local Chinese place only to discover they were closed. Fortunately we discovered this earlier in the day, so all was not lost. I called Granite City as we were leaving Christmas Eve service to ask them if there was a wait. Lo and behold - there was not a wait because the kitchen was closing in 10 minutes. If only the host had mentioned that important detail ... Needless to say, while mentally bah hubug-ing, I made supper at home instead of dining out. Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken and frozen potstickers to the rescue.
But the holidays are fun and it's a wonderful and blessed thing to see Christmas through a child's eyes. I won't lie though, with Gracie's first birthday party combined with holiday shopping and baking, it's a relief to have the holidays behind us.
This is Lucan's "Merry Christmas. I'm so happy face." Every.single.picture. I think Lu thinks it's funny to ruin all of my pictures with the same ridiculous face. I'm not impressed.
Lucan's preschool class put on the most precious Christmas program. Filled with songs, dances and a poem. It was so fun to observe all the kids and the clear differences between boys and girls and the kids with fall birthdays (reading between the lines: Lucan only did part of the dance actions. As did most of the boys. There was a part where I watched two of the boys in the back row start fighting while all of the girls were enthusiastically doing the dance moves on point)
His teacher, Miss Paula, must be a saint. Preschoolers are adorable but they're like puppies. They have no manners, will chew on whatever looks shiny and lose interest in things after 3 minutes. Moral of the story: I could never be a preschool teacher.
At one point during the program Lucan stopped in the middle and asked me if he could go sit in the back row with Lance because he was "tired of singing."
Jingle in the (Valley) Junction. I love the way Des Moines has all sorts of fun things going on to celebrate Christmas. There were sleigh rides and Santa visits but we opted out. However a wandering snowman did catch our eye! (Do you know how hard it is to capture a 6.5 foot snowman and a 3 foot child in the same frame?)
I had one shop merchant ask if the "snow kitty" belonged to me. Cute!
Olaf. Or "Ollie" as Lucan calls him.
Little Miss Serious, opening her Christmas presents at my folks' house.
Cutest present under the tree.
Lucan would enthusiastically open my presents, your presents and your future children's presents if you'd let him.
Again, cheesy smile. "I always wanted this!" Then he would turn to me and ask what it was.
Great grandma Ruth and her littles.
On the day of Christmas Eve I came to the realization that we had zero pictures with Gracie and Santa. After reading one of my DMMB friend's post how she had no pictures of her second-born's first Christmas, I was feeling pretty guilty. We made the executive decision that we would brave the mall crowds and trek out to see Santa. It was a zoo. Santa's hours started at 10 and we were there around 10:15 AM. Lance and I took turns standing in line, but we probably waited an easy 35 minutes. Fortunately no one freaked out and Lance took both kids on a walk around the mall.
So for all that standing in line, this was the best Santa picture we got. Not terrible, but not exactly magical either. I guess I should be happy that Gracelyn isn't crying!
There might have been bribery involved in getting Lucan to behave.
Creepy *cough* "magical" reindeer.
Christmas morning. You hear about all those kids who wake up their parents in the wee morning hours? Yep, so when we were at my parents' house the weekend before we didn't let Lucan open presents until after dinner on Saturday night which was very challenging for Lucan. He kept moving his gifts around, shaking them and doing all sorts of normal little kid present snooping. Well when Christmas morning rolled around, Lucan didn't ask to open presents right away. He actually proposed we wait until after supper (like at my parents') and then quickly moved up his timeline until after lunch. Imagine his delight when we told him he could open his gifts after breakfast!
We don't make a huge deal out of Santa at our house. We didn't set out cookies for him, we don't do Elf on a Shelf and we didn't have specific "Santa" presents. When Lu asked us who gave him everything, we simply told him that we did. Basically my theory is "neither confirm or deny" anything.
Christmas jammie picture in front of the tree. Of course Gracie isn't looking at the camera and is more interested in the Christmas ornament she swiped from the tree. I'm happy to announce that she only broke one ornament. Lucan, however, broke three? #boysversusgirls
The nativity set is a fan favorite year after year. Lucan started asking for his angel toy with the people that sing back in November and it's safe to say that Gracie liked it too.
Our Cyclone Christmas tree with red and gold lights.
I bought some Christmas fabric on Black Friday and sewed Gracie a headband and a matching Christmas onesie. She wore the onesie once and I'm not sure where it went after one washing.
Meringue cookies cause me much angst. I think I'll do a recipe post on these in the coming days, so look for that.
We celebrated Christmas the weekend after with Lance's side. Our Saturday morning drive was filled with fog, icy trees and coldness. Fortunately the road conditions weren't too bad and I was thankful that we were traveling during daylight and not at night like many times.
I snapped this photo in the car and wanted to stop and do a quick shoot with some of the frozen fog but because of our delayed start, Lance vetoed my creative requests.
My brother-in-law, Vernon, had complained to me earlier in the day that Gracelyn has never warmed up to him. Well, she happily sat on his lap the entire evening while we opened presents at my in-laws.
Two out of four looking at the camera isn't bad (for me).
Again, Lucan would happily open everyone's presents if you'd let him. He's looking on as my father-in-law is opening up his new toolbox. I'm not sure why Lu looks so concerned.
Lance's family's church was beautifully decorated. Again, Lucan's "Merry Christmas" grimace face.
I knew it was my last chance at getting a family photo with everyone it. It wasn't ideal as Lance had forgotten his church clothes back in DSM, but we made it work.
Looking back, our Christmas was a blessing. It was quiet and more low-key. Maybe part of that was due to the fact that I'm not working full-time so weekend travel isn't as big of a setback but it was nice to actually feel like we could do a couple of traditions as a family. Next year I vow to bake less and have more of the presents wrapped ahead of time! And miracles beyond all miracles, I didn't go massively over-budget this year. Yes, you can all be amazed with me.
Merry Christmas friends! Thanks for sticking with me to the end!