Saturday, December 31, 2016

On Christmas Day in the Morning (and Afternoon, Too!)

Since Christmas landed on a Sunday this year, we didn't sleep in too late that morning.

But who am I kidding?  The kids wouldn't have wanted us to sleep in too late anyway.  ;-)

The first gift to be opened was the one Jeff gave me: the Bible I had asked for.  After he gave it to me, he immediately took it away again!  The nerve!  ;-)  But it was so he could read the Christmas story from it before we proceeded with the rest of the gifts.  I was happy that the first words read from my new Bible told the story of the most meaningful birth that ever occurred!

Shav found a good position in which to listen to Jeff read.  :)
And then the gift-opening began in earnest.  I'm going to try to keep my comments to a minimum--an endeavor which sometimes proves too difficult for me.  ;-)
I gave Jeff this gigantic gift bag with a very special present inside.
A garden hose.  ;-)
He was thrilled, I'm sure.  ;-)
One of the best traditions we have for Christmas is having each of the children give gifts to all of their siblings (with the exception of Benjamin, of course).  It does take extra time to arrange for numerous shopping trips so each child can buy gifts without any of the other kids around, but it is SO WORTH IT.  This year, I sort of sat back with an inward smile and watched as the kids came up with unique gift ideas for each other, then had the fun of going to get the gifts and wrap them, then wait with such intense anticipation until the gifts they were giving would be opened.  I KNOW that their Christmas joy was heightened tremendously because they gave gifts and didn't just receive them.
This year, not only did Josiah and David use their own money--earned through working at the barber shop--to buy gifts for their siblings; Tobin did, too!  He had conscientiously saved his money and then took it along when Jeff and he went shopping, spending a grand total of $46 for his siblings' gifts.  For an eight-year-old, that's a significant amount of money to work for, save up, and spend on others!  I was very proud of him.  :)
Shav also had saved up some money and used some for the gifts he gave, but we allowed him to just pay a portion of the costs of the gifts and we covered the rest.  Soon enough, I'm sure, he'll reach the stage of doing it all on his own.
As I look through these pictures, I notice--as I always do--how the kids crowd together, no matter who's opening the gift, because they are all excited to see what it is.  But I also paid attention this time to the expressions on the faces of the peripheral characters in the shots.  Many times the face of the giver is lighted up with excitement as he or she watches the receiver open the package.  It's so much fun.  :)
Some of these pictures are blurry--there was not a lot of natural light that morning because it was fairly early and the sky was overcast; plus, there was a lot of quick motion as our kids bounced around excitedly.  :)  But I included some blurry pictures because they still captured moments I want to Shav giving Tobin a hug after opening his gift--a remote-controlled car--from him.  :)
OK, Davene, time to do what you said and keep comments to a minimum!!!  ;-)

Moriah gave this gift--a magnetic sand timer--to Josiah; and I love watching her face in these pictures.  When the boys are still looking at the item, she is looking at Josiah to see his reaction.  Sweet.  :)

Besides a garden hose, I also gave Jeff a sweater.  Super exciting.  ;-)
We gave each of the children (except Benjamin) a beach towel this year.  No surprise, Tobin's featured a horse.  :)  Shav's was a Star Wars character, Moriah's was a pretty sunset/palm trees scene, Josiah's was a wolf (his favorite animal), and David's (as will be seen in later pictures) was an American flag with an eagle.  I'm not perfect in this area by any stretch of the imagination, but I do strive to give gifts that will be useful and appreciated for a long time, not simply tossed away when interest is lost.  Beach towels fall well within the bounds of useful gifts.  :)

These kinds of ecstatic expressions make giving gifts at Christmas so delightful!  :)
Tobin, kind soul that he is, was the only one of the kids who got a gift for Benjamin; in fact, Jeff and I didn't give Benjamin anything either, except for a couple of Christmas ornaments to begin his collection that he can take with him someday when he leaves home (a million years from now, so don't get any ideas about growing up too fast, you hear me, Benjamin??). ;-)  Tobin chose a rolling tiger with little balls that pop in the clear body of the tiger when it is pushed along.  It was so thoughtful of him to include his littlest brother in the Christmas joy!

Hugs like this = the sweetest kind of reward for giving a gift.

When we began the festivities, Benjamin was still in bed; but before long, I went upstairs and got him up so he could come down and be a part of it.  It didn't feel right to not have him there.  Having him perched in the highchair watching us while he munched on some breakfast felt much, much better.  :)

This was when Jeff was opening the ornament from Ryan and Sarah.  It was right after this that I started crying.  ;-)

For some inexplicable reason, Shav LOVES snakes.  I have no idea how he could possibly be related to me.  ;-)  One of his big requests was a new stuffed snake for Christmas, so Jeff ordered this one for him, and Shav was very happy.

You might begin to notice Shav lying on the couch in the background of some of these pictures.  He started feeling sick part of the way through the gift-opening, so he laid down and held the ice pack, and that seemed to help him feel better.  He never did get truly sick that day, which was a huge relief, but for a little while in the morning, he just didn't feel very good.

The boys have been really interested in various kinds of Rubik's cubes for the past seven or eight months, so a few different kinds were given as gifts, including this hollow one.

David gave Tobin a backpack, and it was such a nice backpack that David really would have liked to keep it for himself!  He was able to part with it though--ah, such sacrificial love.  ;-)
Tobin really wanted a neck pillow so he'll be comfortable during long car rides, so Josiah got him that.

Here comes Benjamin!  :)

Josiah and David went together to get Shav a pretty nice LEGO set.  What's Christmas without new LEGO pieces floating around?  :)

Here's one of those blurry pictures which captures an element of the joy we were experiencing that morning.  :)

Jeff got the boys a small set of weights, and they've been having a really fun time using those during this past week.
After the gifts were opened and as we were cleaning up things and trying to set the house in order again before we left for our church service and then had guests arrive, Benjamin did something wonderful: he pulled himself up for the second time--in this case, using the dishwasher to get himself up on his feet!  :)
It was a Christmas gift for Mommy!  :)

Our church had a slightly shortened service, so we hurried to get ourselves ready and out the door.  We may or may not have been a few minutes late to it.  ;-)

After that, we came home to get ready for an afternoon of feasting and fellowship.  Of course, my mother was here, and also our good friend Doris who lives at Bridgewater Home, too.
Benjamin found a good spot to perch on her walker.  :)
We ended up having 23 people here; and since we can't fit 23 people around our kitchen table (and we don't have a dining room table because we don't have a dining room!) ;-), the overflow crowd had to sit in the living room to eat.  :)  Nobody complained loudly enough for me to hear, so I'm going to assume everyone was content with where they ended up.  :)

Kevin the Painter was here, like he always is for Christmas (and any other time he can finagle an invitation for dinner).  ;-)

The kids played Pie Face after lunch; and as you can imagine, the living room got quite noisy.  ;-)  Unlike the night before, I didn't play this time.  :)
The grandmas sat back and watched it all.  :)
And so did the men.  :)
Todd is one of Benjamin's buddies.  :)
Amanda is one of Moriah's buddies.  :)
It was warm enough that the kids played outside for a while; but as the afternoon wore on, they settled inside for a game of Clue.
Meanwhile, Jeff instigated a rousing game of Dictionary, which may sound boring to the uninformed, but it's actually quite hilarious.  I'm no good at the game because I never can keep a straight face when I need to!  :)
And so Christmas Day drew to a close, filled with the joys of friends and family gathered round, delicious food being consumed, the sights and sounds of the season filling our ears and hearts, and a multitude of expressions of love being passed from one person to another.
Sometimes I wonder what Jesus would think of our celebrations in honor of His birth.  I picture Him as a guest around our table: would He like our favorites, like dill beans and cranberry salad and Oreo ice cream dessert?  Would He enjoy our games, like Pie Face and Dictionary?  Of course, that whole omniscience thing would mean that He would always win a game like Dictionary.  ;-)

I hope He would know that all that we do--all the warmth and coziness, all the joy and laughter, all the gifts and kind words, all the love we share--is because of Him and from Him.  Without Christ, Christmas is just an empty day.  With Him, it is exceedingly abundantly FULL.

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