I feel like I got the best of all worlds with Christmas this year! David and I really love to be in our own home for Christmas while the girls’ are still young and big fans of Santa, however being with family is my favorite thing about the holidays. Last year was a treat to host everyone at our house, but this year we decided we’d do Christmas morning at home and then head to Georgia to extend the celebration for a few days at my mom and dad’s house. Being only a 4 hour drive away, it ended up working out quite nicely.
Without any reason to get dressed, the four of us stayed in pajamas for Christmas eve day. The girls and I took to the kitchen that morning to bake cookies (Hailey says chocolate chip are Santa’s favorite). David put himself on gumbo duty, and stayed the course, even when the onions threatened to derail him (see below- he’s a problem solver!). Christmas eve to me means either a lot of heavy appetizers (if we’re hosting) or a big ‘ol pot of fancy, schmancy seafood gumbo. It’s so tasty and easy to make ahead of time!
We spent the whole morning in the kitchen then retreated to the couch where we watched The Muppet’s Christmas Carol for the first time. It was great!
Feeling very much in the Christmas spirit, we cleaned ourselves up for the 5:00 PM candlelight service at church. I was surprised at how much Hailey enjoyed the message and communion. I was not surprised that Kaitlyn spent much of the service crawling under the pew and attempting to lick the banister. However when it was time to light our candles and sing Silent Night, even Kaitlyn straightened up and got into it. It was so beautiful.
We headed home after church to dig into the gumbo and set out the milk and cookies for Santa. Hailey took this job very seriously, then insisted we track him on NOAA to try and calculate how far away he was and if the milk would still be cold by the time he reached our house!
None of us were up late which worked out well because Santa was able to get in and out easily, without waking a soul.
The girls know they aren’t allowed out of there rooms until 7:00 AM (and I don’t care if that makes us mean parents because being a happy and well rested parent wins out). They’ve been sleeping in later than that, but I guess the excitement was too much for Hailey because at 6:55 AM on Christmas morning we heard her bound out of bed and at 7:00 AM on the nose, she flung open her door and ran to wake her sister.
David and I were ready and waiting, coffee and tea in hand and cameras rolling (we set up the Go Pro and just record it all). As you would expect, joyful chaos ensued! They girls examined Santa’s gifts in great detail, then we managed to get a little breakfast in them before we moved on to the gifts under the tree from family!
The highlight of all was once again Hailey’s homemade gifts, which she starts making immediately after Thanksgiving. I was given a handwritten book, David, a homemade blanket, and Kaitlyn, a handmade doll. I swear that girl and her heart are going to change the world one day!
The biggest flop of a gift ended up being the gift David and I gave the girls- the illustrated version of the first Harry Potter book! I’ve been at the edge of my seat waiting until they’ve been old enough to read it, and I am planning on starting it together in January! Well, the girls just looked at it, said “oh,” and gave a polite smile. Surely they just don’t understand the magic yet?! Meanwhile I was all…
After all the presents were opened and we cleaned up most of the big stuff, we hopped in the car to head to Georgia and continue the celebration!
We arrived around 3:30 PM, just ahead of my bro and his family. Grandma Betty has already arrived and we decided that happy hour was perfectly fine to start at 4:00 PM on Christmas! It felt so great to all be together with all our traditional Christmas foods from all my years growing up- a giant wheel of Swiss cheese, homemade caramels, and Grandma’s cream cheese dip. And one of Dad’s famous martinis, of course!
The girls immediately took off to play with their cousins while the adults hung out and chatted in the kitchen. While trying to help with dinner prep, I discovered where Hailey gets her big heart from (not that I didn’t know before). My mom had asked everyone what food represented Christmas to them, made a list, and made sure each person’s answer was represented. From my bro’s Mexican dip, to Dad’s tenderloin, to Kaitlyn’s pumpkin pie request- each one was there and waiting. Is she the best or what?!
We sat down to an early dinner, hoping to get some food in the kids before we retreated to the living room for gift opening.
After dinner we wasted no time getting to the gifts. It was quite chaotic to be honest, but the best kind of crazy. Wrapping paper was everywhere, the girls were all pulling out and playing with toys immediately, and a fire crackled through it all!
We spent a few more days in Georgia, soaking up family time and enjoying the relaxation that only comes after all the Christmas to-dos are checked off the list. For the trip, I decided to keep my phone in my room and stay off all social media. I know that’s not all that uncommon, but for me, it is not something I do very often, or actually at all. And it turned out to be such a gift.
I didn’t take as many pictures because my phone wasn’t always in my pocket, but I was better able to immerse myself in the moments. From walks to the playground, to many rounds of Ticket to Ride and Rumikub, and from sipping egg nog to playing pool, I soaked in every last minute of just being with my family under one roof. It doesn’t happen often enough!
After three days we headed back home- hearts full, pants a little tighter, grateful for the sweet memories made, and with the girls already berating me about when they would be able to hang out with their cousins again… 🙂
A merry Christmas indeed! <3