Early Magic!

As usual, we had early Christmas early in December with JC’s parents, sisters, brothers-in-law, and our nieces and nephew. Although having a month or more of unending holiday cheer can be a bit exhausting, I love how our many Christmases let us truly spend time with each group of people we care about.

JC’s folks clearly enjoy having all their kids and grandkids around. And the grandkids love being 100% spoiled by adults who love them.

Poor little JJ was pretty sick the whole time, but he still wanted to be deep in the action.

Sweet sick little face. 🙁
Checking out Silas’ work.

Early on, all the kids got notepads and markers. Silas was hard at work every time I glanced over at him.


Wondering what my Menno pacificist baby boy was working on in this holy season?

Elora is now old enough to have a conversation, play pretend, ask questions, etc. In other news, she’s become a kid more than a baby. That was super fun. My kids still see her as a baby, though. I think if Petra would give her a chance, they would have a lot of fun together, but Petra isn’t ready for that yet. She spent most of her time following Olivia around.

As always, the house was decorated beautifully. The kids were fascinated by trying to find everyone’s names on their stockings and the ornaments on the tree. The ornaments mostly have stories of one kind and another, and the kids loved hearing all about them.

JC’s younger sisters created an elaborate tablescape, including hand-made tiny Christmas trees, reindeer poppers, cups with verses from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” printed on them (one verse for each of us, and yes, we had to sing the whole song. Fun, but half of us were sick, so it was just about the worst singing I’ve ever heard from this family…but we had fun!), and a kids’ table sign for “the lollipop guild.”

Every year, we go kind of crazy trying to get a group picture where no one is crying. Through some combination of bribery and begging, we did pretty well this year, I think…

As always, the kids got all kinds of amazing gifts.

Stockings were ridiculously fun, particularly the tiny finger lights that everyone got. Silas was super excited to play with them, especially.

Petra loved her new Lottie Paleontologist Doll, and even more so when she opened her paleontologist kit from Aunt Katie, which happened to look a whole lot like the doll’s kit.

Silas got a telescope, and he’s excited to check out the night sky with it.

The adults have had a thing going for a few years where we each get gifts to one other adult. It’s a fun system, because it’s easier to really think about one person and what they might like than to make a feeble attempt at doing that for each of eight people.

I drew Konni’s name last year. I got her gift certificates for an escape room and the restaurant across the street…but I made her work for it. JC and I designed a mini-escape room type game that she had to solve in order to get her present. It involved a locked journal, a combination lock, a crossword puzzle, and some hidden clues. Unfortunately, she was too sick and tired from being up all night with a sick and tired toddler to really enjoy it…but the rest of us had a great time with it. 🙂

Konni solving the crossword puzzle–the final step!

Every year someone has to come up with a complicated game to figure out who will buy for whom the next year. This year, Verna decided that we all should create a lego thing that represented us and put it in a brown bag. Each of us drew a bag at random and had to guess at who made the lego thing. That’s who we’d buy for next year. I\ was SO PROUD of myself for guessing Justin’s. It was a lego tackling dummy, like the football guys practice tackling. That season and a half of Friday Night Lights sure served me well.

Mine was a LEGO hedgehog drinking coffee, but I didn’t get a picture of it. It took everyone about half a second to guess whose it was…

I can hardly wait to see what this creative gang comes up with next year.

Some of these photos were by Katie Smith, but I’ve honestly lost track of which ones…

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