This last week before Christmas has been so busy and fun. I feel like we have done a good job all month of enjoying the season, but there were a few last traditions to be shared before the magical day arrived.
We have traditionally had the Broadbent/Hancock party on the Sunday before Christmas and this year we hosted at our house. We have definitely grown in size over the years but since my dad only has one sister, we are still relatively small in numbers for an extended family gathering. It was fun to have everyone over, and especially to watch the kids - they start the night off trying to reestablish that they know each other and after spending so much time playing, end the night as great friends. I always enjoy a chance to spend time with cousins that I don't see very often.
This year my mom and dad told a memory of Christmas when they were young. Uncle told of an experience seeing Santa and Aunt Leonda brought bubble lights and talked about her grandma's tree that was always sparkling with bubble lights. My mom told a story of when she and Marlene were young, they snuck and unwrapped the presents their grandma has sent from Texas and then re-wrapped so that her parents wouldn't know. She said that Christmas morning was such a letdown that they vowed never to do that again. My dad told a really touching story about a gift his mother gave him when he was young. All of his friends were getting pellet guns for Christmas and he desperately wanted one as well. His father had died and his mother did not have a lot of money. She was able to find him a used gun and he know that was still probably quite a sacrifice. As he told the story he explained how disappointed he was initially and how much he regrets his reaction and that he wasn't more grateful to his mom. Despite being second hand, it was a great gun and he used it for many years. He really developed an appreciation for what a generous gift he had been given.
One of my favorite Christmas memories from when we were growing up was doing a pinata with these same cousins. My Grandpa and Grandma Childs spent the winters in Yuma Arizona and would send us a pinata from Mexico. I have fond memories of being on my Grandma Horrocks' carport breaking open the pinata with cousins. For the last few times that we have hosted the party, I have brought the pinata tradition or not, the kids love it. Nearly all of the younger kids in the family are boys, and this year it got a little intense - I'm not sure my garage is going to be big enough to host this activity much longer. We may have all feared for our safety a few times, but I loved hearing the laughter and cheers and watching how animated all of the kids were. When the pinata finally fell it was mass chaos, but I think that all of the kids ended up with a treat bag and left the party happy.
We finally made it to the Riverwoods for dinner, lights, and of course, Santa - our favorite. Usually we go with Cory and Calvin but they were busy this year so was just Tim and I and the babies. We had to wait a little longer than usual which gave Luke time to admire all of the lights, and Ruby plenty of chances to run away. Despite a little naughtiness it was a fantastic evening with my loves.
The big moment was as magical as we had hoped.
Luke asked for a Chewbacca mask and Ruby, a dolly
Tim's parents came down on Friday to celebrate with us and the kids. Thanks to Costco (it ended up being a busier day than planned), we had a wonderful dinner and even better dessert courtesy of Grandma Whitesides and her famous hot fudge. The little ones loved showing off all of the Christmas cheer in our house, and I think the big boys just liked visiting with Grandpa and Grandma. Of course, they brought gifts which had been greatly anticipated. Luke adores his remote control Dart Vader car and the rest of us are getting used to the sound effects. Ruby adores her umbrella and has since taken it with her every time we have left the house.
Our Christmas Eve festivities started out with a movie - Sing. Ruby of course loved it because one of the main characters was a pig. I think the rest of us all loved the laughter and relaxation.
The kids have been so patient with us and the gingerbread houses this year. We purchased the kits at the beginning of the month and they have been asking since then when we could build the houses. Earlier this week Tim and I helped construct the houses, but wanted to wait to let the icing dry before decorating. We weren't able to finish until Christmas Eve but it ended up being perfect because Taylor and Brycen were here to join the fun. The babies were thrilled to have their big brothers there to help decorate and the end results were pretty spectacular.
Christmas Eve dinner continued the tradition of "steak and shrimp". Tim and I talked about doing the dinner at home this year, but in the end, my vote for the Outback won. It is so enjoyable for me to go eat, have conversation, and celebrate without worrying about the shopping, cooking or clean up. This year my parents and Cory and Rhonda joined us to complete our large family table. I loved it. When we finished, Tim and I and the kids drove out to Utah Lake and went for a walk in the rain to look at Christmas lights. Walking along with my family in the peaceful night seemed like a perfect Christmas Eve.
And of course, Christmas Eve pajamas
The cutest Santa's helpers I have ever seen
He calls this his Santa ninja
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!