Magical! Absolutely magical! Best Christmas ever! It was a good Christmas this year with our "little" family and friends. Last Sunday night Josie sat at the coffee table for an hour writing Santa a letter, the best part, she was narrating her letter. I heard cute whispered phrases like, "please invite me to your workshop, I want an LOL like Evelyn, please send me a delicious Kinder egg, I want to boop Rudolph on the nose, I love you Santa, and your bells are so cute." Throughout the week the mail man probably discovered an extra 4-5 letters from her. Santa can read scribbles so her little wishes were heard. She even scored a kinder egg and LOL surprise still frozen from the North Pole on Thursday.
Monday I woke the kids up early to accompany me to the gym. They swam while Mia and I exercised. Josie was the only one thrilled to swim. That evening we went tubing with the Ostlers after dinner at the Gateway parks in Eagle Island State Park. The park is only a mile from Justin's work so he met us there after work! All the snow there was manufactured so it was perfectly slick for tubing. Part of the hill was specialized for snowboarders and skiers wanting to practice without going to the slopes. A conveyor belt helped us tow our heavy tubes up the hill. Our best run was definitely when 10 of us hooked up for a speedy trip down the middle hill. It was a whopping 58 degrees that day so we were almost hot from all the trips up and down the hill. Once I caught the highest lip with my head and almost flipped us over, talk about breathtaking. We took several minutes to admire the Christmas star configuration of Jupiter and Saturn an hour after sunset. That was a significant moment in my life!
Tuesday was my grocery shopping day, took me several hours since the store was packed to the gills with other shoppers. Everett threw me for a loop by asking Santa for a secret gift, one that was not on my gift list. Santa made sure that particular gift was delivered in time. I was so tired that the remaining pile of gifts still remained unwrapped. We joined the Ostlers and the Finch family to go Christmas Caroling around our neighborhood. Three of our neighbors had tears in their eyes while we sang, melted us as well. Two homes said that was first time carolers ever visited their homes. The men hung back trying to direct the women who scattered around the streets without much of a plan. The kids ran helter skelter ringing bells before the rest of the group arrived. Ya know, typical caroling scene. Sara provided hot chocolate or cider afterward to warm up our bones.
Wednesday morning Amelia helped me wrap the last piles of gifts. She let the little ones help her wrap my gifts. I made the deadline an entire 24 hours early! Ha ha ha. Towards the afternoon we made a last moment trip to Costco in hopes of finding a large squishmallow, no luck. Target had the dorky fairy squishmallows. Our last hope was Fred Meyer, they had small ones so that had to suffice. Can't have a holiday now without new squishmallows. Josie was with us so knew everyone got a new one. She completely surprised me by keeping the secret for two days. Sara and Eliza stopped by with a large gift bucket for Phillip who attended his last few days of Primary. He felt so special! The Nelves rang bells like 4-5 times after lights out, the boys were chatting quite loudly, took a while for the boys to notice!
Thursday Evelyn raced into our room saying the Nelves left a surprise on the dining table! Fun piles of crafts and candy waited for the kids. Josie was especially into the crafts. She used entire tubes of glitter glue on her penguin craft. The boys did not touch their crafts but quite enjoyed the candy. The Ostlers invited us over for a Fondue lunch! I brought a cheese fondue and a chocolate fondue with fun things to dip. We had hot oil to fry cubes of fancy steak fondue style. Dusty made a delicious sour cream and beau monde spice sauce to dip the steak in. That was a divine meal! The kids snuggled their sweet kitten Astrid before and after lunch. I had a sudden errand come up so left for 30 minutes to get that taken care before the stores closed. We took a chilly walk to the school park while the sun was shining. We hosted dinner at our home. Made the kids clean the entire house on Wednesday and Thursday. Our traditional clam chowder was magical as usual. Justin and I worried over the bacon because it was not crisping up, it finally crisped after I divided the bacon up into two pans. We ate nearly the entire two batches of clam chowder and lots of sour dough bread! That was epic. After dinner the kids chose costumes for the Nativity play. Ambree made the cutest sheep I've ever seen. Justin read the story while the kids played out the story. It was so fun to have enough players! The kids were going wild, Justin put on Phineas and Ferb's Christmas, things went from 100+ to manageable in a few seconds. Our Nelves knocked on the door a little while after the Ostlers left for home. They were sneaky and hid the Christmas PJs on the back patio while knocking on the front door. So much yelling! Josie made for a preciously cute koala, Evelyn was a fuzzy llama, Everett a derpy shark, Phillip a Hogwarts student, and Amelia a cozy dog. After things settled down we watched about Christ's visit to America before heading to bed. We got the parental gifts settled under the tree before heading to bed.
Santa decided to place his gifts under the tree in the standing room! Mia said she heard tinkling bells sometime in the night! The kids woke us up around 7 am, under strict orders to not wake up up earlier! We enjoyed some stocking time. Josie was so thrilled with everything she pulled out of her stocking. The older kids loved the Roblox gift cards and cute Minecraft power ups. Evelyn and Josie scored makeup, consequently sported wild eye makeup for the day. We headed downstairs after stockings were enjoyed. Everett completely missed the hoverboard in front of his Santa gifts. He went for the pink one near Mia's pile. Lots of fun squeals over their Santa gifts. He moved the cute squishmallows from the living room to the Santa tree and added bows to everything. Mia found a Santa letter near the cookie plate. We took a break to read Santa's silly letter. Then...the family gift opening extravaganza. Grandpa Lane happened to video call right as the kids ripped open their second gifts. It was a mad-house! Grandpa wished us a hurried Merry Christmas then signed off, he he he. Josie won an award for the best expressions and reactions! She was down right hilarious. Everett was thrilled about his snap circuits set. Evelyn made out like a bandit, it's easy to buy for little girls! The rest of the day we wallowed in mountains of boxes, paper, and plastic. The neighbors came over with their 2 new hoverboards, we had a parade of kids on hoverboards for most of the afternoon. The best part was watching the kids figure out how to mount their boards without falling. Quite a few pictures have popped off the wall and furniture slammed out of the way as kids maneuver around the gift remains. That was fabulous. Justin grilled a delicious skirt steak I marinated for carne asada tacos. Yum and double yum. We ate way too many cherry-chocolate cookies for dessert. Mia spent an hour tracing things on her tracing board. Towards evening Josie started whining about starting Christmas again for tomorrow and needing more gifts: she was either tired or spoiled...both?! Justin watched copious amounts of the Mandalorian all day long. Another highlight was video chatting with all our family scattered across the US and world. It was hard to think of Jeff driving truck, Dad eating his tuna sandwich, and Jared pestered by his 4 childish roommates while sequestered in lockdown in Poland. I'm happy we could bring them a spot of Christmas joy.
Saturday we woke to a smattering of snow. Made for perfect hibernating weather. We played with toys, tried new games, and made tracks all over the house for another day at home. Josie entertained Justin and I with her toy that repeats the last 3 seconds of what is loudest. She had the most hilarious things coming out of her mouth, like you "merping wiggy waggy wormy". So many fights over the two hoverboards, one is mostly Everett's but sharing is hard when you have to share. Everett took his hoverboard outside, he learned that water and electronics don't mix. Justin took apart the board before the battery died. After it dried out the board started working again. Before dinner I instigated a cleaning sessions so we could welcome the Sabbath with a clean house. Everett and Evelyn dissolved into tantrums rather than help. Everett was banned to his room, Evelyn was banned from playing with Ambree for two days. Everett later snapped out of it enough to do all the dishes. We somehow fit all the trash into the bin, thank goodness trash day is Monday! The girls used "wody bash" to take a bubble bath with their new Barbie's. Somehow Evelyn managed to form a perfect duckie out of bubbles...on her head.
Today we tuned into Charity's ward to listen as Mason gave his farewell talk in church! He takes out his endowments on Wednesday and starts his service mission in January. He will be serving at the DI for a time. Our new church time is 9 am! AND we get to meet all together starting next week for a 2 hour block! The littles are so excited for Primary. Phillip will be ordained sometime in the next couple weeks. Evelyn saved most of her toys opening one at a time and enjoying that toy for quite a few hours! She still has 8 toys left to play with. We opened her Santa gift after church, that was fun to play with her. The boys and I tried playing Here to Slay, I am so not talented at playing complicated games. Everett latches on right away to the rules he enjoys then forgets the technicalities, Phillip just does whatever. That mix of game personalities makes for a bit of yelling and revenge. Jack Frost decorated outside last night, we woke up to a wonderland of lacy frost on all the trees.
I feel so grateful for this year in spite of all the COVID and political messes. It's been magical to study the Book of Mormon as a family. I've felt like this Christmas was the last of Christmas' like the past. The feeling that things are changing are only getting stronger. I have no idea what next Christmas will be like. Maybe more humble than this year? Maybe the same? Maybe completely different. Regardless, we have each other and the gospel as our base.