Our very Merry Christmas

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We got to my mom's at about 5 p.m. Christmas Eve. My brother and his family were already there; his wife was fixing a big pot of chili. Our children and I wrapped presents to put under the biggest tree my dad had ever gotten while my brother played Santa and filled up all the stockings my mom had gotten for the 13 grandchildren. (Each family also had their own stockings, so each child had two.) My sister and her family arrived after supper. She stayed up long after the children had all been put to bed putting her children's stockings together. Our spouses went to bed with the children, but my brother, sister, mother and I all stayed up talking for quite a while.

The children were tired enough to stay in bed until almost 7:00 the next morning. I got up first, but apparently an assortment of young children had been lying awake wondering what to do--this was the FIRST time any of them had been at Grandma's for Christmas morning, and they weren't sure of the protocol. They clustered around me asking when they could open their stockings, so I quietly ushered them to the one unoccupied room of the house and gave them their "home" stockings. (They had to wait till later to get the one's from Grandma.)

Eventually everyone was up, beds were made back into their original couch form, pajamas were exchanged for play clothes, and breakfast was put on the table. At each meal, my dad asked one or two different children to tell us a Bible verse containing the word, "____", or to lead us in a song containing the word, "____". The words were always different, but included love, thanks, peace, joy, etc. Breakfast was simple: cereal, danishes, sweet rolls, donuts, juice, milk.

After breakfast, we had a special time when many of the children shared with us their parts in all the various Christmas programs they were part of. They read or quoted scripture, sang or played the piano. We had a time of remembering those in Afghanistan and the surrounding area, and prayed for them. Then we exchanged gifts. I made most of mine: fudge and peanut brittle for my dad, fudge for my siblings and their spouses, cookies for my sister's children to put in their lunches, and a "Smith-Bohon-Newton 2001 Family Reunion" banner for my mom. When we were down in August, I had traced everyone's hands and asked for their favourite colours. These were transferred to a piece of muslin with iron-on fabric crayons; the writing was done with fabric marker. I tried to use the eight basic colours in the box to make everyone's favourited colour. I had a lot of fun with "flourescent rainbow", "camouflage", and "bright"!

My brother had made up a grab bag of sorts for each child, which were a lot of fun. Elijah, who is seven, opened his and pulled out a delightful assortment of items from the Dollar Tree. "What are the bungie cords for, Uncle Clyde?" "Just for fun." Benjamin, our Dennis-the-Menace, got a package of rope. Tom immediately said, "I know what I'll use that for!" We can forgive Uncle Clyde since his boys (ages 8 and 11) have been raised in the jungles of Papua New Guinea and have used machetes for years:o)

We had a traditional ham dinner, and then settled down to watch a "This Is Your Life" slide show of my brother, sister and I as little kids. This was more fun for the adults than for the grandchildren, who disappeared after the first slide tray was finished. Still, we got to show our children the places we had told stories of over the years...."That's the tree house your Uncle Clyde fell out of, and then jumped out of when he realized he'd dropped his glasses." "That's the big hill we slid down in big cardboard boxes."

Such a lot of fun we all had, and how hard it was to say goodbye, especially to my brother. His boys will likely be taller than me next time we see them, five years from now. My mom said, "You come so quick, and then you're gone!" We'll next see her in May, Lord willing.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas, as well.

-- Cathy N. (keeper8@attcanada.ca), December 28, 2001


Sounds great Cathy, I imagine it was hard to leave them all. It is such a blessing to have a good family.

-- Melissa (me@home.net), December 28, 2001.

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