Growing up in our family, Christmas Eve was always the day to look forward to (as opposed to Christmas Day) because that's when we opened up ALL of our presents. Christmas Day was reserved for just the big gift from Santa and one or two other gifts from extended family. We would beg and plead to open gifts all day and if we heard "not til after dinner" once, we heard it a billion times. To occupy ourselves and make the time pass, we worked on our version of the Christmas story. As the youngest grandchild, I usually played the very important role of baby Jesus, until I got too big to be carried and then I was promoted (or demoted?) to Lo, the angel of the Lord. :)
As an adult, Christmas Eve is very different. Every year since graduating from college - with the exception of last year when I was on maternity leave - I have taken one for my team and gone in to work. It's really not that bad - hardly anyone is there and we always get an early dismissal. Plus, it makes the time go by faster until present, er family, time!
We no longer travel to my Grandmother's house for the holiday. Instead, we start the evening at church for a candlelight service - one of my favorites of the year and one that Katie Wynn has yet to appreciate as she's two for two on crying through the whole thing. Afterwards, we all cram into my parents' kitchen and attempt to sit down for a meal together. And it's not just any meal, either. The last two years Matt has made the infamous beef tenderloin in a salt crust, and it is to die for. My mom always makes my favorite sides to go with it and we have enough food to feed at least two extra families. And that's even before getting to the counter full of desserts to choose from.
It's no longer me and my brothers begging to open gifts. That has been transitioned down to my niece and nephews. I'm sure it's a matter of time before Katie Wynn joins in. They haven't attempted acting out the Christmas story yet, so we torture them a little bit longer by quizzing them on why exactly we celebrate Christmas and who's birthday it is. And finally, before the first gift can be opened, we sing a Christmas carol. Jingle Bells has been the chosen one the last two years, probably because the kids enjoy screaming "HEY!" at the appropriate time. Either way, it's a lot of fun!
Now I've gotten carried away and almost forgot about the pictures that go with this post. Shame on me. Isn't that what you're all here for anyway? :)
We tried for a little Christmas photoshoot with Ramer and Katie Wynn, the two youngest grandchildren. They started out in the chair sitting as far away from each other as they could get, but eventually warmed up to each other!
Hugs and kisses! Katie Wynn is obviously not sure about receiving affection from boys.
You know how I told you one of Katie Wynn's tricks is being able to not only find her belly, but also to show it to you? Well, she has recently discovered that other people have bellies too! That's cute and all until we're sitting in the middle of McAlister's and she starts pulling up my shirt to show everyone my ever-expanding belly. That? Not so cute. Anyway, on Christmas Eve, she discovered Jett's belly, and she was pretty dang obsessed with it!
We have a picture from years and years ago of all my grandmother's grandchildren (there were five of us) piled on her couch from oldest to youngest (I'll have to find it and post it sometime). We tried to recreate the picture but it didn't go so well for the little ones. I think this may have to be a picture we take every year, though, just to see how it progresses. At least the three on the bottom cooperated.
Finally, after hours and minutes and days and years of waiting, the dishes were clean and everyone made their way to the living room so we could talk about Jesus and his birthday.
Matt and Jett played Santa and passed out gifts (after I read out the names on the tags and passed them over). There is no taking turns in our present opening extravaganza; it's a free for all and it gets wild and crazy!
Before we were even done passing out gifts, I looked over and noticed that Katie Wynn had torn into one. I was shocked because she had zero interest in actually opening presents when we were in Indiana, she just wanted to watch everyone else. Luckily, the gift she tore into was one that actually belonged to her.
She also enjoyed carrying packages around the room. I think this particular one was stolen off of Poppy's pile and carried across the room before being thrown down.
Katie Wynn's big present from Mimi and Poppy was too difficult to open by herself, so she watched as Jett gave her a hand.
A shopping cart full of groceries! She was hilarious and kept saying "Whoa!" over and over again - and I don't think she's ever even said that word before, especially not in the right context! (Oh, and props to Mimi for including all of my favorite groceries. Well done.)
When most of the chaos had died down, Bren enjoyed stacking all of KW's groceries as high as she could and then knocking them over. Fun for all ages, I guess.
Currently, Matt and I (and KW, of course) and the only ones that stay the night with Mimi and Poppy. Not sure how that will pan out as the new baby is added in and Santa becomes more real, but for now it works and we enjoy it. Everyone else had to quickly load up their cars and hit the road to get in bed before Santa Claus arrived.
Big hugs for these cousins!
Two last pictures of Katie Wynn with a couple of her favorite people before we hit the sack. I'll be back soon to tell you all about Christmas Day! (Assuming anyone is even reading these??)