It's hard for me to believe that Christmas Eve was not four months ago. So much fun and mayhem and merriment and madness and work goes into the holidays that time seems to both stand still and move super fast.
Jenna was a shepard in her Preschool Christmas program and did a great job singing "Joy to the World" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". Jenna, of course, actually wishes you a Merry Tristmas.
Then it was the Sunday School Pageant. Michaela was an angel and Jenna was a sheep. Not only are the kids out of their minds about Santa and presents and treats and SANTA and excitement and vacations and TOYS and TOYS and SANTA, they also are in all of these programs and have to go up in front of large crowds and sing all these SONGS. But they were troopers and did great. Michaela told me the morning of the Sunday School program that the red turtleneck I had picked out for her to wear so she and Jenna would match wasn't going to cut it: "MOM. I am an angel. My costume is white and has short sleeves. The red will show and I will look RIDICULOUS." So we opted for a white turtleneck and all was right with the world.
Christmas Eve-Eve was Michaela's baptismal birthday and kicked off the present parade: since my parents were flying out on Christmas Day to Chicago to be with my brother and his family, we did presents that night with Gammie and PopPop. The highlight was without a doubt my big gift from my parents: a 380-page book of my blog, starting from the first entry in January 2007 and going all the way through this past November. I was stunned and speechless and thrilled. It was overwhelming, really. I couldn't stop looking at it, and honestly, few things in my life have filled me with more pride than looking at this book, this book that contains all the big and little moments with my family, my children, my husband and the life we have created together. Wow. "This is our entire life in this book," I told Dan.
Christmas Eve meant a 5pm Christmas Eve service in which the girls had to sing yet MORE Christmas songs followed by the annual party at my parents' house. We literally started getting ready at 2pm. Honestly. Because between the fancy dresses and tights and argyle sweaters and corduroy pants and dress shoes and showers and baths and hair- the hair!!!- both straightened and curled by different appliances- and the makeup and lip gloss and "rosy cheeks" and pictures and poses, it takes quite a bit to get the five of us that dolled up. But we made it to church by about 4:30pm so we could get a good seat and have the girls to their practice. The service is very kid-friendly and we were done by 6pm. We had an awesome evening at my parents' house with various family members and friends and left at about 9:30pm, mostly because I had eaten my weight in chocolate fudge (my mom and I made 15 pounds of fudge. 15 POUNDS.)and it was time to roll me home.
Then we got the kids into their coordinated Christmas jammies, courtesy of Aunt Beth and Uncle Brian because they know what a freak I am about that sort of thing, and all tumbled into bed.
We had a great Christmas: Santa came, enjoyed our cookies and chocolate milk (we thought the Big Guy would enjoy a little variety) and brought, among other things, Josephina the American Girl Doll for Jenna, Wii Fit Plus for Michaela (to which she declared "NO WAY!! THANK YOU LORD SANTA!!") and clothes and toys for Alec. I got four beautiful charms for my Pandora bracelet and Dan got lots of clothes from Ralph Lauren and some books.
We drove down to Dan's dad's house for the day, which was a blast, and filled with food and presents and infants and fun. And, of course, matching Christmas t-shirts for the girls. We did our annual robust singing of the Twelve Days of Christmas, with Uncle Jimmy as the fabulous partridge in a pear tree, which he sings with great gusto and makes us all laugh. It was a great day.
Then the pace slowed and we hit that wonderful part of the holidays when you can't seem to keep track of what day it is. We went to the movies, we went to the mall, we hit some after Christmas sales, we picked up around the house and processed stuff, processed stuff and processed stuff some more.
New Year's Eve we spent with friends at a Japanese restaurant. We sat at a hibachi table and had a great meal together. Afterwards we went to a friend's house, ate dessert and played Rock Band. And we were an awesome Rock Band. We left at about 11:30pm and told Michaela and Jenna they could stay up to watch the ball drop. Jenna opted for bed but Michaela made it til midnight and I think was a bit underwhelmed by the ball. "That's the ball? That's it?" says she.
New Year's Day we headed over to my Aunt Kathy's house for our last Christmas party. She is an amazing- and I mean AMAZING- cook and always puts on a top-notch spread. We hung out, opened gifts, and had a super relaxing afternoon and evening with cousins and aunts and uncles filled with lots of laughs.
The rest of the weekend was uneventful- just cold and snowy and blustery- and by Sunday evening, I was eagerly anticipating sending everyone off to school and preschool and work in the morning.
Sometimes the greatest gift you get from the holidays is to realize how pleasant the structure and routine of real life is.
It was a great Christmas.