Saturday, January 2, 2016

Once Upon a Christmas

It has been a busy break for the Spafford family this Christmas. Their schedule has been filled with everything from their annual Christmas party, to a couple trips to the beach, and a lot of working on Dad's shop :)  

First order of business this season was getting the Christmas tree. This job is taken very seriously by the the littlest male member in our family, Austin. As tradition requires, the three guys must don on their flannel shirts before heading to the Glenwood Tree Farm to pick out the perfect tree. After much serious consideration, a tree is carefully chosen. Austin made sure that he checked with his sisters first to see if there were any special requirements that he should be looking for in this year's Christmas tree in terms of height and fullness. As it happens every year, mother declared this tree to be the prettiest one yet. 

Christmas baking is taken very seriously in the Spafford family. The same baking list is used from year to year of delicious goodies to fill our fridge for the season. 

Though it gets harder each year to gather everybody from their busy schedules and into the kitchen at the same time, family baking is never neglected. Everybody teams up in teams of two and picks a recipe to tackle for that evening. Aprons are donned and the craziness begins :) 

The four teams that have paired up each take over different sections of the counter. Flour and sugar are passed around from group to group. There is, of course, plenty of taste testing that happens throughout this process as that is the most important step in baking! 

Austin claimed that it was the boy's tradition to make the fudge and almond roca every year, so the ladies were to keep away from those recipes ;)

The whole baking process usually spans a couple of days because we have to make dessert both for our family and our neighbors,

After all of the dessert had been made, we loaded all of the plates into the van, and went door to door delivering plates of goodies and "Merry Christmas" greetings to everyone :)

Since being in Astoria this past summer vacation, the Spafford family have been looking for an opportunity to make their way back there and see Astoria all decked for the Christmas season. As they drove through the lit up streets of their favorite town, they all agreed that Astoria looked like Bedford Falls.

We spent the day strolling down the streets of Astoria and making stops at the different antique shops along the way. Dad graciously made a couple trips back and forth to the car loading up everybody's purchases :)

A week before Christmas, we had planned a special party for some of our church friends. The preparation began days before when we all worked together to get the house cleaned. 

Four soups were made among which were chili, pumpkin sausage, minestrone, and Leisel's famous clam chowder :)

Pumpkin cheesecake bars, lemon bars, apple pies, and chocolate torte were all carefully laid out on separate plates and labeled with their different titles.

Right before everybody arrived, the tables were set up and candles were lit. About 28 people gathered together in our home that night for a wonderful Christmas party. 

The evening was such a special time of fellowship with God's people. We gathered together in the dining room to sing carols after seemed like a little taste of what heaven will be like when all of God's saints are gathered together to worship Him!

Christmas came early on Friday morning as the early risers made their way from room to room waking up all of the sluggards :) Coffee was the first thing on everybody's agenda. One cannot expect people to function properly until they have begun their morning right ;)

As everybody waited at the top of the stairs, mom carefully brought down everybody's stockings and lined them up on the couch. 

As soon as the stockings had been divvied out, everybody dove right into opening theirs up :)

Jonathon and Austin handed out all of the gifts, as it is their expected job from year to year. The gift opening went around the room, one person at a time, beginning from the youngest to the oldest. Mom attempted to keep some order in all of the chaos by collecting the wrapping paper after every gift was opened. Those who were slow in the opening up process were given a bad time and told to hurry up :)

For the past three years, we kids have done a gift exchange between the six older children on Christmas day...

Cosette won the award for probably the most creative gift of everybody's. Her theme for Kayleen was "accessories that she will need for her trip to Japan"...after Kayleen had opened all of the gadgets up, she found a backpack at the bottom of the box to complete the gift :)

When all of the gifts had been opened up, their remained a few gifts for mom and dad from their kids :)

Charae's next priority lay in the making of the eggnog.

The table was set with mom's best china, and a delicious turkey dinner was laid out. 

There still remained one week of vacation after Christmas day. Although dad had a list of things he still wanted to accomplish in his new shop, we also had a fun day planned at the beginning of the week.

Monday morning, everybody was up and ready to head out the door by eight. The plan was to make it to the Wayfarer for a delicious breakfast and a cup of their sleepy monk coffee (a Spafford favorite ;)

After breakfast, we took our traditional picture outside of the Wayfarer, as we had not been able to take it last vacation due to a down pouring of rain :)

The weather was perfect for a walk on Canon Beach. It seemed that the cold weather had dissipated for the day and the sun decided to shine.

As we were getting ready to head back for a walk through Canon Beach town, a sneaker wave came out of nowhere and chased our family down before we had a chance to run away. Now eleven people stood soaked on the beach, sand caking their clothes, and a couple members of our family missing shoes :)

We made an unplanned detour over to the outlets where new pairs of shoes were purchased for everyone. Dear little Annie very worriedly asked whether we were all in danger of getting trench foot due to the fact that we were walking around in sopping tennis shoes :)

We did get our walk through Canon Beach in, although it was a little later then we had planned. We made one stop over in Nehalem to check out our favorite antique store, before ending in Manzanita Beach. Jonathon treated everybody to pizza at our favorite restaurant "Marzano". 

After a delicious dinner, we walked to the ocean view. It was too dark to see anything at that point, but it was just special to be at our favorite place as a family again :) Jonathon voted that we make one last trek through town and walk by the cabin that we stay at every year. 

We've been making progress in Dad's shop throughout the week. It's now all painted and we just moved everything in from the garage to his shop :) The girls in the family are starting to see progress towards their desired goal: their hope chests.

Each evening concludes on the living room couches as we all gather for Spafford cinema time. A plate is made up with all of our Christmas goodies on our traditional Christmas platter.
It's been a wonderful break for all of us and we've felt very blessed by all of the special memories that God has allowed us to build over these two weeks.

“And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” John 1:1
 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17

May God bless y'all in this New Year! Hope that everyone had as wonderful a Christmas as we did!