This year happened at warp speed.
In the days leading up to Christmas, which my kids were already on vacation for, excitement bubbled out of them in the form of hyper shouts and a bit of anxious complaining. They drove my crazy by day, and I wrapped presents for hours by night. They mentioned last minute gifts Santa was "absolutely bringing them" (nope), begged for cookies and candy canes, and watched so many Christmas specials I can't even remember them all.
On Christmas Eve morning, their elf brought them a "kit" full of Christmasy things to do to pass the time (a tradition that he's done for three years and I never think to take a picture of it). I also gifted everyone their ornament for the year, and despite my lack of photos for these moments - I did capture them on video. I hope to share the video with you by the end of this post, if my computer starts cooperating with me, but just to note - my camera likes to cut off videos before I'm ready, and doesn't like to focus during them either. So they are piecey and shakey and blurry in some parts, but they are still full of moments I want to remember for life.
As the Eve wore on, the kids played with their kit and we cleaned the house in preparation for the impending mess. In the afternoon, we prepared our share of Christmas Eve dinner, packed up our gifts for family, and went to Matt's parent's house for dinner and gifts.
The kids were rabid about gifts this year. Totally crazy. They inspected every last one at my in-law's house and by the time we were ready to open them, they were scattered around the living room so much, there wasn't a single one actually under the tree. We had a taco bar style dinner, which was different from our usual "fancier" meal, and super fun. (Though, messy!)
When most of the dishes were done, we settled into the living room for gifts, and I'm trying to think of the appropriate way to describe how quickly it all went down. It was like a swarm of bugs devouring a crop or something. Just, eaten whole in seconds. Those kids tore the paper off their gifts in record time.
* Jake got 2 new pairs of Robeez in little handled boxes, and he spent the rest of the evening traveling around with them. He didn't care about a single present once those two were unwrapped - he just wanted to carry his little boxes around town!
* The boys got a "pull my finger" pen (complete with sounds) and a whoopie cushion, so their evening was made pretty easily.
* I got one of the Home Goods side tables I've been coveting! YAY!
As the night wound down, I stuffed the kids into their Christmas pj's and packed up to go home. The kids were SO excited, but also exhausted and ready for Santa. Luke charged in the house and went straight to brushing his teeth. Then he was all business about setting out cookies for Santa, and he dictated a note for me to leave him (asking him to use our leftover m&m packets as stocking filler).
The kids all passed out so easily (we didn't have them nap at all for this very reason), and Matt and I enjoyed some quiet time by the tree before heading to bed. That's my favorite part of Christmas. The very end of the Eve. Seeing all the lights, the presents ready and waiting, the stockings stuffed full, the excitement of what's to come in the morning - it's just the best. I feel like Matt and I should start a tradition during those magical moments we have alone, now that all of the kids sleep on their own and actually allow us to have a few moments to ourselves. Maybe a tradition to start next year.
Sleeping that night was not the greatest. Luke was up 3 or 4 times around 3am, willing it to be morning. Jake woke up at 5 and came to bed, and knowing my alarm was set for 6, I was unable to fall back asleep. I got up at 6 to turn all the Christmas lights on, start coffee, and put breakfast in the oven, and I had maybe three minutes before Luke emerged with way more energy than anyone is usually capable of before the sun rises. And, as usual, he ran into Henry's room and woke him up with probably the rudest of wakings - turning on the light and shouting at him. Thankfully H is a good sport.
The kids circled the present pile like a couple of sharks while they waited for my Mom to arrive. Their voices were dripping in excitement and they kept exchanging the cutest little happy hugs. When my Mom finally pulled in the driveway, she was met with the most exciting and energetic welcome she's probably ever had!
The morning was a glorious, blessed blur. The kids squealed for Minecraft, Dusty Crophopper, Mickey Mouse, and craft supplies. Their big gifts included Disney Infinity 2.0 and the new WiiU system. As soon as that was opened, Henry was pretty much done with gifts and ready to play Wii for the rest of the day.
I was extremely blessed, myself, and I don't really think of Christmas as my thing anymore (it's the kids' day!) so I won't go into too much detail. BUT, I am SO excited that one of my gifts was a new pro series stainless cooking set! We've been using the same nonstick pots and pans since our wedding shower, and the coating has been peeling and peppering our food - something that has worried me for too long. So I am SO grateful to have them, and they are WONDERFUL to cook with!
When the presents were unwrapped, the stockings were unstuffed, and the breakfast was devoured, we packed up again and made the treck to my Dad's house for more Christmasing. And again, the kids dove right into their presents. Luke and Henry both got gigantic Fatheads (ya know, those enormous wall decals?), which was a pretty exciting experience for them. We all shared brunch afterwards - complete with our Christmas Day fondue, quiche, breakfast pizza, waffles, muffins, and scalloped potatoes.
We spent the rest of Christmas Day playing games with the kids...video games, Olaf Trouble, making markers with Luke's new marker maker. The afternoon and evening were so slow and relaxing, and exactly the perfect way to spend the rest of the day after the flurry of activity that came before it.
Jake was a little overwhelmed by it all. There were so many people and things - he spent a lot of time just studying it all, and didn't have a real interest in opening presents. But, he loved the presents we unwrapped for him!
I already can't wait until next year! The boys have begun to appreciate our traditions, get excited for everything that comes with the season, and memorize special moments about their Christmases. I'm excited for Jake to be old enough to join them in those things, and for the magic to grow for the bigger boys.
Here's our video!
We love you, Christmas. See you next year!