Christmas festivities started on Christmas eve with a dinner at our house for our extended family, including my visiting mom from NC and her fiance, Peter. We thought we'd do something easy and casual so we got a Honeybaked ham and smoked turkey breast as entrees but somehow, no matter how many very worthwhile shortcuts I take, entertaining is never really easy and casual. It was a very fun evening with tons of food which is always the cornerstone of a good holiday gathering. The girls were especially thrilled to see their close-in-age cousins Jacob and Brayden and they were especially, especially thrilled to be able to exchange gifts with them that evening.
It's been very difficult to look at all of those wrapped presents under the tree day after day. At various times when I turned on the tree lights, or got wrapping paper out, or we received a present in the mail, Kate announced, "It's Christmas time! Time to open presents!" to which Erin answered, "No, Kate..." and went on to explain just where her reasoning went wrong there and describe the proper present-opening time table. It never really sunk in though.
Poppy brought over a copy of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" and read it to several of the kids--as many as would put their new toys down and sit still long enough to listen to it. Kate and Allison didn't do too well there.
Just as she did last year Erin wrote a letter to Santa Claus. This year she was very succinct. No embellishments, no small talk, no trying to sell Santa on how good she's been this year. She asked for a Monsters, Inc. DVD and that was it. Short and to the point, which I can imagine he did appreciate on some level given the volume of mail he must get.
Erin has been on fairly extra good behavior these past few days, especially where meals are concerned. Normally she starts enquiring about "what's for dinner" at about noon. And then, perpetually disappointed, confronts my answer with, "Are we allllllllllllllll gonna have that?" And when dinner is served she not only waits until she's completely chewed and swallowed one bite before taking another, but usually waits until she's fully digested it too. Either she just prefers her food to be stone cold, or she is savoring every morsel, or is problematically riveted by our dinner conservations, or simply likes driving me insane. Slowly. Whichever...this week she's been a compliant, quick eater. Grandma Jan has commented on her frequent clean plates, eager vegetable eating, and being the first one finished several times. I say we need Christmas every week.
"Santa" did fulfill this modest DVD request and also brought the girls a nice wooden horse stable and yard and plenty of toy horses to inhabit it. It occurs to me that when Erin is old enough to find and read this blog and understand what it means to put quotation marks around Santa's name, it will be time to have a talk about Santa.
"He" also found and couldn't resist some twin girl dolls (one blonde and one brunette) which, when near each other, talk to each other and are fairly hilarious. They are as close to replicas of Kate and Allison as one could reasonably find, or, er, a, have his elves make. If only the brunette talked about 70% more than the blonde and was a persistent contrarian they'd be dead ringers. Still, an impressive find and the twins love them. They call them "the Kate doll" and "the Allison doll". They also got a disney princess barbie doll each.
After opening a few presents and having breakfast with mom and Peter we headed up to John's parents' house for more gift-exchanging mayhem and entertainment for Uncle Jeff, which is achieved by his giving the girls some ridiculously huge present and watching them go crazy over it for the next hour or so. This year that something was a large Dora the Explorer tunnel and attached play house.
Allison admiring Grandma's tree and Kate "reading" a story to Uncle Jeff, though I don't think he was aware that he was being read to.
Then after lunch it was back home where mom and Peter started dinner preparations. Peter loves to cook and wanted to make Christmas dinner and well, John and I like to accommodate the requests of guests whenever possible.
After a terrific dinner it was time for MORE! PRESENTS! This time to and from Uncle Brad and Shadzi. And with that our 24 hours of Christmas craziness was over and Grandma Jan departed for home the next morning.