Sunday, December 16, 2012

The gift of quality time at Christmas

In the midst of a national tragedy every moment with those I love comes into even sharper focus.  Giggling with Miles, nose-to-nose, as we crack up at silly jokes and rocking Hadley to sleep, her warm, chubby cheek resting against mine are moments that I hope to never take for granted. 

We celebrated joy, love and family this weekend with an early Christmas celebration with my family.  Festivities started early Saturday morning when we gathered at my parents with my siblings and their families.  We made gingerbread houses, had a make-your-own salad bar lunch, opened presents, played with new toys, sang Christmas carols and happy birthday to Jesus, enjoyed too many appetizers for dinner and had a wild and joyful time. 
For our second annual gingerbread house extravaganza we opted to buy kits - they were a little fancy for our tastes (aka not enough candy and edible frosting for Miles and Hadley to eat!) so next year we'll return to the milk carton, graham cracker variety.

The kids' creations were festive - here my sneaky little one is stuffing gummy fruit in his mouth.

Although everyone groans when I insist on taking a group photo (yes, these are never the most flattering pictures) I appreciate the memories of family togetherness that these photos capture. 

The opening of stockings started off the gift extravaganza.

My cool, little movie star LOVED her sunglasses.

Playing with flashlights.

We sang Christmas carols while the kids played bells and helped Grandpa play the accordion.

The FAVORITE gift so far this year were doll/pet beds handmade so lovingly my great-auntie Sharon.  All of our little mamas and papas loved tucking in their furry friends.  The babies even tried to sleep on the little beds themselves!

We are truly blessed to receive so many wonderful gifts.  The kids got everything from games (Don't Break the Ice) and books (Llama Llama) to clothes, Mr. Potato Head, a baby stroller and more.

Kennedy joined us for the annual girls picture.

The guys sampled this year's holiday home brew - a spicy winter ale clone of "Bad Santa."

Another popular gift was a huge tote of dress up clothes from Grandma and Grandpa.  Miles and Corey loved rescuing sick people and throwing us all in jail as they ran around talking into their walkie-talkies.  (Yes, Miles is a butterfly policeman!)

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for hosting a festive and boisterous Christmas celebration this year.

Saturday evening ended with everyone very tired out in their Christmas jammies.
Today our celebration continued.  Our family ate breakfast together, went to mass and then to the extended Nickolay Christmas party at the KC Hall.  The Nickolays have been celebrating at this hall for probably well over 20 years.  When I was little I remember running around in the front coat room with all of the kids and now my kids love dancing, running wild and singing in the front coat room just like I used to.  The number of great-grandchildren is quickly growing and this year we celebrated with over 60 people. 
Our pretty, little Christmas girls. 

My Godmother Carol and Aunt Sue always lead the singing of Christmas carols and this year Miles and Hadley both got to be bell ringers - a job which they took very seriously.  I was very proud!

Hadley was the littlest one to start off the pinata fun.

Miles really got into it this year!

Thank you Great-Grandpa Nickolay for hosting another wonderful Christmas party.  By the end of the day my two little Christmas elves were exhausted.  Everyone was early to bed tonight. 

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