Three days before Christmas–after the big snow and Christopher and Gavin’s return from their daddy/son trip–we got up early and left while our carpets were cleaned. I had the next five hours or so planned, and nothing really worked out, in the best way possible.
First, we drove to the mall in Bellevue. We were early enough to find a parking spot, but not early enough to see Santa. When we finally found the end of the line, a tall teenage elf named Cinnamon informed me the estimated wait time was 90-100 minutes. Since I was alone with the kids (Christopher was at the dentist), I knew there was no way we were making it through that line. Most everyone else had left one adult in line while the rest of the family wandered the mall. Mental note for next time. Ben was the only one disappointed, but it was nothing a trip to the Lego store couldn’t distract him from. I took a few pictures of the kids at the mall. Not the same as Santa pictures, sadly, but this year I adopted an “only do things that will contribute to my sanity and help me to model Christlike behavior to my children, therefore honoring the birth of the Savior” attitude.
After we left the mall, we headed to Dickies BBQ in Issaquah, where Christopher was meeting us for lunch. Unfortunately, we learned the new chain restaurant is already closed indefinitely due to poor management. We ended up at McDonald’s (gross!) but the kids were exceptionally happy with cheeseburgers and sundaes. I probably spent more at McDonald’s than I would have at Dickies.
Allowing a little while longer for the carpet to dry, we ran a few errands, and I ended up dropping off Megan and Gavin at the Carl’s for a few hours, before putting the little boys down for a nap.
The next day, Christmas Eve, was spent doing one last Costco run (it wasn’t even crowded, apparently everyone had gone December 23). Shay and I had planned a last-minute, casual Christmas Eve dinner. We invited a handful of families and asked everyone to bring a pot of soup. I brought rolls and paper bowls from Costco we just ate and chatted. We sang Christmas carols and attempted to act out a nativity the best we could with 22 kids twelve and under. I didn’t even take pictures, instead just enjoying the evening. Every family in attendance was dealing with difficult things–strained marriages, troubled children, a colicky newborn, a recent miscarriage, financial stress. I almost felt like the evening symbolized the Savior’s infinite grace. There we were, with our troubles and sorrows, and we acknowledged, over humble pots of soup, that we were doing our best and, on the eve of Christ’s birth, He would compensate for the rest.
The little boys went to bed easily, and Gavin snuggled with Megan in her bed for the night. Christopher and I enjoyed sitting by the fire and Christmas tree, watching TV and anticipating the fun in the morning. We waited until that night to put a single wrapped gift under the tree, lest any be unwrapped before Christmas morning.
Our Christmas morning began at 4:30. All three big kids were awake. Megan and Gavin, quietly chatting, stayed in her bed, and Ben snuggled with us, asking every 10 minutes when it was time. This lasted until 6:30, when we finally had to get up. We patched my parents into the family room with a webcam so they could see and hear everything, and put them up on our TV. Then the kids saw what Santa brought. Except Logan. He loves to sleep and we don’t mess with that.
After enjoying our Santa presents, we opened gifts from Grammy and Poppy while they were still chatting with us. Christopher made a delicious breakfast and we finally got Logan up. Then we got on the webcam with Christopher’s family and opened their gifts. It wasn’t a huge Christmas in the gift department. There wasn’t a lot of technology. Megan did get a cell phone, but it’s a very bare bones plan. More functional than fun. We got lots of books and games and toys that don’t require batteries, which is the way I like it. And Megan made everyone a puff paint t-shirt, so that was pretty special. Next year she can sew something using the beautiful supplies Lynn gave her.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying Christmas, especially nap time. In the afternoon we got to chat with Ethan in Argentina, which was really special. It was noisy and chaotic, with Ethan in a foreign country, Devin in Maryland, Caitlin in Utah, and my parents and Allison on a separate connection in Columbia (and us). I figured the chaos just gave Ethan a taste of home, but my mom was annoyed she didn’t get more one-on-one time with her baby. He looks great, though. He’s finally gaining some weight eating all those empanadas.
Around four the Carls came over for Christmas dinner. We had ham and mac & cheese and green beans and brussels sprouts and rolls and cucumber salad and pie. It was delicious and relaxed and the kids got along well, which is always a bonus with cousins. I managed to take only a few blurry pictures because the kids were running around like crazy people. Near the end I got a call from my friend Jess, who had been in bed for most of the day with a horrible migraine, and wanted Christopher to go over and help her husband Ben give her a blessing. We sent some food, too, and a little while later Megan. Jess just had a baby two months ago, so Megan bounced the baby, helped put the older kids to bed, and Christopher helped Ben get the house back in order. I’m sad they had a rough day but also thought it was a blessing they had an opportunity to give service on Christmas Day. Shay and I were talking about how limited our opportunities to serve are with small children. I called the local nursing home, to ask if we could visit and sing carols to the residents, and Shay wanted to volunteer at Tent City, a homeless camp in the parking lot of the Catholic church near our home. Both places weren’t really interested in having us volunteer with small children in tow. So for the next few years, we’ll have to look for small ways to serve, and look forward to the day when we can engage our children in more challenging acts of service.
The day after Christmas I took the big kids to Seattle for an adventure. We saw James & the Giant Peach at Seattle Children’s Theatre, ate lunch at MOD Pizza, and explored the science center before heading home. The tickets were comped so it wasn’t too pricey, and Logan enjoyed some Daddy time. Those two are peas in a pod.
And today we are doing laundry and blogging and looking forward to the BYU bowl game tonight. Go Cougars and Happy Christmas Week!