Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Christmas Time is Family Time

Sometimes we just don’t want Christmastime to end. That’s how I felt this year after this Christmas. It was so relaxed and chill and pleasant that I continued to ride the sleepy high of it well into the third week since the kids started back at school. Now that the final box of decorations have finally been packed away and stored back in our basement, I figured it was high time that I actually posted some pictures of the joyful time we enjoyed as a family during the twelve days of Christmas and beyond!
Nothing truly monumental or exciting was planned other than lots of togetherness. And that’s exactly why it was so wonderful! Have you ever experienced the completely freeing feeling of not having anything pressing to do or anyplace you had to go? That was what we enjoyed for an entire week! We didn’t even have to hit up the grocery store because there was so much food in the house leftover from our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day feasting. We stayed inside drinking coffee, playing board games, reading books, conversing with one another. It was truly lovely and I want to go back.

Christmas Eve we enjoyed the company of Elisabeth, our first Denver friend, for our annual fish dinner. Elisabeth has always been so great with our kids and they were excited to host her. She brought gifts in the form of three games for the kids and proceeded to patiently spend the hours after dinner leading up to Midnight Mass continuously playing games with them. Emma was especially enthusiastic about the new games. The activities kept the kids active and wide awake all the way until it was time to leave for Mass around 11:00 PM. Midnight Mass is one of my favorite Christmas traditions and we were excited to see how the church would be decorated at our new parish since this was our first Christmas there. We were totally not disappointed! Everything was beautiful, glowing, and bathed in the gentle glow of candles. We sat right in front of the large crèche and the children were so very well behaved. Only Lucy ended up succumbing to sleep midway through Mass in Elisabeth’s arms. Even Paul managed to refrain from snoring and drooling for the entirety of Mass!

Attending Midnight Mass is rewarding in a lot of ways, but it certainly has its drawbacks. We did not get the kids to bed and asleep until well past 2:30 AM. Then Paul and I had some Santa business to do which meant we were up until around 3:30 AM. You’d think the kids would be so tired that they would perhaps sleep in a bit later than normal, but our children are like roosters and at the first sign of day they must arouse the troops to rise and shine. This arousal came in the form of Matthew standing unnaturally close to Paul’s face at 6:00 AM. That’s a fun way to wake up, I’ll let you know.

Pretty soon, the girls were up too and everyone was excited and bouncing about ready to see what Santa brought. When Paul and I still appeared slightly comatose, all three kids climbed into our bed and began whispering “Merry Christmas!” in our faces with their fish-scented morning breath until we couldn’t continue the charade any longer. “I’ll make coffee…” Paul mumbled as he stumbled out of bed. Actually, he fell out of bed because he asked the kids to help pull him out and lost control of the fall and ended up whacking his back pretty hard on the edge of the bed, leaving a nasty bruise.
Anyway, we stumbled downstairs and the kids happily began to unwrap gifts. We unwrap slowly, focusing on one gift at a time so that everyone can see what everyone received. The kids were thrilled with all their gifts. Daniel was thrilled with all the empty boxes and piles of wrapping paper to explore and possibly consume.

After unwrapping gifts and eating a delicious breakfast of strata and cinnamon rolls, we announced to the kids that a very special gift was on its way, set to arrive at any minute. The kids were all bewildered and wondering what this surprise could be when who should walk in the door but Uncle Jacob, fresh off the airplane all the way from Honolulu.

The kids were delighted! Matthew immediately wanted to blare “Mele Kalikimaka” from the stereo as an effective greeting to our Pacific Islander relative but was sad to learn that we did not have it on CD. Actually, we might, but Paul and I didn't really feel like trying to find it right then. It was a nice idea anyway, Matthew.

The kids enjoyed every minute of having their beloved “Uncle Jakey” stateside for Christmas with them. Jake was extremely patient with all the kids, spending hours and hours and hours playing board games with the little girls and indulging a few other hours with Matthew, Paul, and me playing some more involved strategy games. He and Paul also went to a few distilleries, spent an afternoon hiking in the snow, and took the oldest kids to the movies. Paul and I also gifted Jake a sous vide machine for Christmas and spent a little bit of time teaching him how to use it. Jake and Paul made the most delicious brisket I have ever tasted in addition to the prime rib we enjoyed for Christmas dinner. We all ate way too much, but it was incredibly enjoyable for everyone.


When it came time for Jake to leave, Emma clung to his ankles and begged him not to leave. Both girls sobbed as Paul drove away with their current favorite uncle in the passenger seat, headed to catch the plane that would fly him back to Hawaii. They really bonded with him during the visit.

Soon after Jake’s departure, Daniel started crawling at a wicked fast pace, and we have been struggling to keep him safe from his own destructive habits ever since. He especially enjoys sucking on power cords and attempting to lick light sockets. No cabinet is safe from his rummaging. His new favorite toy is the Swiffer duster. I taught him how to actually use it but he tends to dust the same side of the cabinet over and over. On the bright side, at least one side of the cabinet is clean. He definitely grumbles less than the other three when it comes time to doing chores!

And here we are! Back to school, back to work, back to wishing away the winter cold and dreaming of warm summer days. Lucy is already looking forward to the pool opening up and Emma is compiling her list for Santa for next Christmas (the greedy child).

One thing is for certain, our first Christmas in Denver was a happy, healthy, and restful one. As a family, we look forward to a new year of adventures in our not-quite-so-new home. We chose the word “gratitude” to focus on together in the coming months. We have so much to be grateful for: our families, our friends, our health, our beautiful home and all the amazing possibilities that come with living in such an incredible part of the country. We are also grateful for life and love, especially as we watch our baby Daniel grow and thrive. He brings us all such joy. May we never lose sight of how much we have all truly been blessed in this beautiful life.

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