Ceej and I had the pleasure of attending 5 celebrations of Christmas this year, and I loved every minute of them! I didn't take many pictures because I was waiting for my new camera (a graduation present from mi padre), but each celebration was unique and wonderful. I'll break them down for your curiousity:1. The first was on Christmas Eve, when Ceej and I went out for dinner at Red Lobster with my mom's immediate side of the family (my stepdad, brother, and step-brothers). It has been a tradition for many years and for good reason! Our dinner was delicous, and afterwards we all went to church. When it ended, we came back to our house for a game of "Christmas Bingo," entailing (surprisingly) delightful prizes like $10 gift certificates to Pier 1 Imports, Blockbuster, Subway, etc., as well as an assortment of Burts Bees products and yummy candy. Instead of typical gifts this year our family bought an ice shack to go ice fishing as a "family (boy) present," and my mom and I are going on a Mission Trip to New Orleans next week as our gift. We ended the night with a good old fashioned watching of Home Alone 2. 2. The next morning, Ceej and I drove to Stillwater, MN to visit my dad's immediate side (my sisters, brother-in-law, dad's girlfriend, and neice and nephews). We had a classic breakfast of his famous cheesy scrambled eggs, pancakes and bacon, which used to be a typical Sunday occurance when I was going there more regularily. After breakfast we opened gifts and played with the kiddos. I couldn't help but look around and smile at how big and busy our family has gotten! I remember when it was just the three of us girls and my dad, and now it's a houseful! It was Rylan's first Christmas "out of the womb" (Mickeegan, his 5 year old brother, graciously reminded me that he WAS actually with us last Christmas), and Elliana has grown so much since last year as well. The kids are so fun and I love being their "auntie Em."
3. Christmas night we drove back to Eau Claire for the Thurner immediate family Christmas, which included lobster dinner at their house. Ceej and I refrained from ordering lobster at the restaurant the night before, knowing Charlie's would be better (And it was! It was also 3x larger than the one Ben ordered at Red Lobster). We enjoyed dinner and then opened gifts. We laughed a lot, especially as John modeled his clothes that were many sizes too big! Ceej and I got some very thoughtful gifts, one being a recipe box that was owned by his grandma filled with recipes that he enjoys. One of the recipes was handwritten by Ceej years ago!
4. On Saturday I drove back to Stillwater for the Reich extended family Christmas held at my sister, Jenni's, house. Ceej played in the Alumni hockey game and couldn't make it (I had to miss the Johnson extended family Christmas because of exams, so he was off the hook... not to mention, we did have FIVE to go to). Like last year, we all gave white elephant gifts in addition to a good gift, and had lots of laughs at the creativity of the silly gifts. Some highlights included a floor-length, bright purple, jean jacket with painted sunbursts on it for my cousin, and "grills" for my uncle (fake silver teeth). Two special gifts were given to my neice and nephew: beautiful quilts made from the clothing of my late grandmother. They were called "hugs from grandma" and brought back a lot of memories of the little lady. Hugging the quilt really did make it feel like she was there with us! 5. That night I returned to Eau Claire for the Thurner extended family Christmas. Ceej played pheffer with his uncles and dad, and we all had a relaxing evening chatting for a long time. I had gotten there after the meal and gifts, but it was very nice to just casually enjoy the company of family.
This year more than ever I am so thankful for family. I am humbled by the fact that Ceej and I both have very close-knit families and extended families, and I am excited to watch as they all grow and change throughout next hundred or so years. I pray for continued health and happiness, and I hope your day or week or month of Christmas was equally as wonderful!
10 months ago