Christmas break began for everyone on December 15th when everyone returned home from work and logged off for two weeks.
It was time to relax and reconnect...
The list of Christmas traditions began...
The week after decorating the house, Jonathon, Austin and Dad headed to Glenwood Tree Farm, as has been tradition these 13 years, to pick out the prettiest tree in the lot. Mom seems to comment every Christmas that the tree gets prettier every year. We all agreed that this 13 foot Douglas Fir truly was the prettiest one yet.
The smell of Christmas baking filled the home, as all kinds of goodies were prepared and then stuffed into colorful Christmas tins. Nat King Cole sang Chestnut's Roasting On An Open Fire and Bing Crosby made us dream that maybe this year we'd have a white Christmas.
We were enjoying having everyone home and being on the same schedule. Sometimes there was nowhere to go and nothing to do. Dad had time to work in his shop and we took our mornings very leisurely, sipping cups of coffee on the couch and chit chatting with each other.
Austin was very eager to make up for some long lost brother time. He and Jonathon planned out several workout routines to do with one another, going on early morning jogs, singing military chants all the way. The next morning, Austin suffered the consequences of such an intense workout and made it well known to the entire household as he stiffly stumbled around the home bemoaning his sore state.
Jonathon also made up for missing a very special October birthday by taking Ania out to La Botega for Dinner. It was decided upon that they would make it formal dining to fully enjoy the experience of the five course dinner. Jonathon found that his date had very expensive tastes, and he enjoyed completely spoiling her that night. The meal began with bread and dip and potato leek soup. She enjoyed two serving of Raspberry Italian soda and selected veal and rice as her main dish. They finished the meal with two generous scoops of gelato ice cream.
We wanted to make these two weeks both relaxing and productive so that not all our days would be spent in fun and games :) Dad's den got a deep cleaning and the garge got reorganized. The family newsletter was written up and sent out to a list of 100 people.
There were multiple Christmas events that we wanted to attend like the annual Christmas concert put on by Word of Grace and Hillcrest Bible Church's Christmas service. Mom, along with four other ladies gave their testimonies at this year's Lady's Christmas party.
|Celebrating Kayleen's 21st birthday|
We took two Saturdays to carol to the shut-ins. It is a little exhausting going to five different homes singing in one day, but the encouragement that it brings to the people makes it all worth the effort. It is a blessing to be able to bring the joy of Christmas to these people and to share the story of the Lord Jesus Christ with those who have never heard it before.
We hosted the annual Christmas party in our home once again this year. We weren't sure how comfortably we would be able to house twenty-four extra people, but when the last couple arrived at our home, we had a very cozy gathering; the perfect size for a Christmas party.
Dad took the family to visit the Pittock Mansion while it was still decked for the holiday. It felt like the kind of thing you should dress up for being in such an elegant home, so we all dressed in our Sunday best and toured the mansion.
The Columbia boat lighted parade was another one of those holiday events that kind of set the mood for Christmas.
One day was set aside for browsing downtown Vancouver's antique shops.
There was one item in particular that caught my eye in one of the shops...only it was $100 too expensive for my pocket book ;)
We stopped an hour into our shopping for a lunch at Thai Orchid and finished off the shopping with an ice cream at Renaissance.
We took another day to help mom find some last minute stocking stuffers for the boys, as they are always the hardest to buy for.
|Sending care packages to our soldiers in Kuwait|
The kiddos and I got our care packages sent out in hopes of them reaching our troops in Kuwait by Christmas. We were excited to find some further resources for future care packages. Starkist Tuna and Hersheys both provide free packages of food and supplies for our troops if you supply them with the name of a soldier.
As always, time just flies by and before we knew it, Christmas was upon us. It was time to sit down and watch George C. Scott's A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve and take our first sip of eggnog.
Sam joined us for our Christmas Eve celebration. Even with the sky spitting snow, and the roads beginning to ice over, Dad and Mom were able to make it to his home to pick him up. That night, he presented to mom a tablecloth that his mother had sewed for her and shipped from Japan as well as a matching dish set that Sam had initiated all of us pooling together to buy.
We did have a white Christmas indeed. We were unsure of whether the snow would last till morning, but sure enough, when everyone woke up on Christmas day, the entire neighborhood was still dusted with a light covering of snow.
Things are not all as they used to be growing up when we kids tried to see how early we could rise Christmas morning to open gifts. Instead, we all kept to Christmas break hours and slept in till 9:00.
Everyone waited at the top of the stairs for the stockings stuffers to be set out on the couch before filing down and finding a place on the floor to sit. Dad read Luke 2 to everybody as a reminder of what we are really celebrating Christmas Day. Everyone was forced to take a break after stockings to eat breakfast before eagerly digging into the gifts under the tree.
Jonathon and Austin, as is tradition, handed out the gifts to everybody till the underneath of the tree was completely empty. The little one's eyes got a little bit bigger each time a gift tag was read out with their name on it.
Then it began, the great commotion as Ania tore through her first gift. And then it went on from youngest to oldest. Mom tried to retain some order in the room by collecting all the wrapping paper into black plastic bags as we went along.
The rest of the day was taken at a leisurely pace. We managed to have dinner by 5:30 and we got to use mom's new dishes for an extra formal dining.
Dad had the honor of carving the turkey...when he was through with it, Jonathon took over to rescue another platter full of meat from the meaty carcass :)