Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Christmas To Remember

After all the hustle and bustle, it seems hard to believe that the holidays are already here.  Fortunately, we had lots of chances to remember the true reason for the season this year.

We started our official holiday with a Christmas Eve service at our church. That's been a tradition in my family for years and years. I have learned that over the years, traditions ebb and flow, but I'm sure glad this is one that has stayed.

Singing Silent Night with daddy.
Family photo opportunity at church.
After having an impromptu dinner at my parents' house, we put Grace in her Christmas dress and headed to church for the special candlelight service. It's always a chance to sing some of my favorite Christmas carols, and really meditate on the meaning of the season.  I couldn't help but feel blessed for all God has given me in my life as we sang "Silent Night" in a darkened sanctuary, lit only by candlelight.

We followed up on one more holiday tradition before heading for home on Christmas Eve, a drive around Tremont Terrace to see the beautiful luminaries.

After reading a few of my favorite Christmas stories to Grace, Kyle and I exchanged presents. Somehow or another, we got started our first Christmas together opening gifts on Christmas Eve, and it just sort of stuck. I think we both get so excited about watching the other one open their presents that we just can't wait for Christmas morning.

I love that sweet smile when we opened presents.
Ready to cheer for her Bison!
All too soon, it was time to go to bed in anticipation of the big holiday. Although some days, I wish Grace could wake up early and run into our room excited that Santa had come, it's also nice that she sleeps in some. But after she woke up, we enjoyed cinnamon rolls and opened presents.  It's hard to find just the perfect gifts for Grace, but I think we did a great job this year. She ended up with an illustrated copy of the first Harry Potter book, a North Dakota State Bison cheerleader uniform and a wall hanging to display her race medals and bibs. It was fun to help her open her presents and just be together the three of us.

Grace and I got matching socks for Christmas. They say "I am amazing."
Since our families live so close, we end up with two stops on Christmas Day. We have lunch with Kyle's family and dinner with mine.  Although we had seen our families over the holiday season, it was nice to have another chance to visit.

At Kyle's mom and dad's house, Grace really enjoyed playing with her cousins, Keelen and Quincy on the floor, and we enjoyed catching up with everyone.  Kyle's mom made homemade pizza for lunch, and I think we all ate a bit too much of the holiday goodies!

Our family photo keeps growing!
Our favorite little sweeties!
After lunch, we gathered around the tree for family photos, and then opened presents. One of the "highlights" with Kyle's family is the random Woot T-shirts he orders for everyone. Kyle even got the honors of best shirt this year. And he was excited to get his own pie for Christmas.

Reading books with Grandma Kim.
Snuggling with Uncle Shane.
About mid-afternoon, we headed back to our house for a nap.  Kyle and Grace snoozed away, and I walked over to mom's for some sugar cookies and visiting.  Then we gathered up our stuff and headed back to mom's for dinner when Johnny and Emily arrived from the Chicago-area.

This year's menu was soup and sandwiches, and we loved it. None of us even had room for dessert, but we made up for it later.

Snuggles with Uncle John and Aunt Emily.
Then it was time to open presents, and we had such a fun time watching Grace smile, and trying to get her not to eat her new things.  Kyle and Grace got matching Tottenham Spurs shirts, and we all ended up with new shirts for our favorite team, the North Dakota State Bison.

Grace and daddy got matching shirts!
She's definitely our "Amazing Grace."
All too soon, it was time to head for home, hard to believe that the holidays were over once again. We settled Grace into her bed, wearing her new pajamas that matched her American Girl Bitty Baby. She and I read one of her new presents, an illustrated Home Alone book from Uncle Johnny and Aunt Emily.

Playing "Jingle Bells" with Grandma Susie.

Although the festivities were over, we enjoyed a chance to be together, share laughter and hugs, and enough magic to last us until next Christmas.


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