Thursday, December 31, 2015

Our Christmas Day

Sarah, Dylan, Chris, Mary, Mark, Kathy, and Myron together on
Christmas Day 2015.

After starting off Christmas Day pretty much like any other day of household drudgery, things began to feel slightly more festive around 1:00 that afternoon. That's when Chris and Sarah came over to help me prep the dishes for Christmas dinner. We got the green bean casserole (a low-carb version we all actually like better than the original!) made and into the fridge and we prepared the turkey for the oven.

As soon as we got the turkey in the oven at 1:30, we headed over to the theater to meet my dad and Kathy and finally see the  new Star Wars film, Star Wars: the Force Awakens. Dylan and Jake had gone to see it on the opening night, a week earlier, but the rest of us hadn't seen it yet. It felt odd to go out to a movie on Christmas Day, but it was fun and the movie was excellent. 

I didn't know so many people went to the theater on a major holiday, but there was a line when we arrived more than 30 minutes before the first showing. When we bought our tickets, there were only 11 seats left! Luckily, Dad and Kathy were already inside, saving seats for us!

Our living room on the morning of Christmas Day.

Once the movie was over, we all headed back to my house to finish making dinner. Jake had taken out the turkey when he got home from work, so we put the green bean casserole in the oven, put the potatoes on to boil for mashed potatoes, and melted butter to cook the corn in. Then I made gravy while Sarah prepared the rolls to be warmed and made the stuffing.

Dinner was good and so was the often humorous conversation. We were so pleased to have Dad and Kathy join us. Often they already have plans for the holidays, with Kathy's side of the family or friends, so it was a rare treat that they were free to be with us. We enjoyed visiting for a long time after dinner was done.

And then it was time to open the last of the gifts. Jacob decided that living in Utah was no excuse to miss out on the opening of family presents, so he arranged to be with us via Skype. That made it even more fun. He and Danielle showed us their gifts, and they got to watch us open ours.

And here's the final rundown on everyone's hauls:

Mark with his cache of gifts.

Mark received from Chris and Sarah: a Skeet Shooting game.

From Jacob and Danielle: a headlamp for when he goes night fishing.

From Dylan: a nice, big fishing net to add to Mark's new collection of fishing gear.

From Jake: a Mr. Coffee coffeemaker so Mark can have fresh-brewed instead of instant every morning.

From Mary: a remote control Grave Digger monster truck; a Pie Face game; a pair of warm slippers for stepping outside in the morning, since the puppy chewed up one of his flip-flops; a pair of heavy-duty Brahma work boots; and since he needed some warmer clothing, I gave him snow gloves (for scraping snow off my car in the mornings), a dark blue thermal shirt, and a flannel shirt.

Mary's gifts.

I received from Mark: a pair of lovely, heart-shaped, cubic zirconia earrings.

From Chris and Sarah: Dr. Ben Carson's book, A More Perfect Union. I can't wait to read it!

From Jacob and Danielle: A 2016 calendar featuring family photos. Sweet!

From Dylan: the Star Wars prequels trilogy, episodes 1-3. (I've never owned them; just the original episodes 4-6.)

From Jake: a beautiful opal pendant (resting on top of the book).

Here's a closeup of the earrings from Mark. Pretty bling!

This is the wrapped box the earrings came in. Mark is getting better at this romance stuff:
"To Baby, From Your Love."

Here's the January page of the calendar.
What a thoughtfully personalized gift!

The opal pendant from Jake.

A funny story about the opal necklace: While I was searching for Sarah and Danielle's gifts, I came across this pendant. It was the last one left and on sale for almost half-price. I thought it was so elegantly lovely that I nearly bought it for myself, but I reminded myself that I rarely wear jewelry (except earrings) and reluctantly handed it back to the saleslady. Several days later, Jake wanted some ideas for what I'd like for Christmas, so I mentioned this necklace.

We were all Christmas shopping in the same store at this time. After awhile, Jake found me and told me he'd tried to buy the pendant, but it was gone. We even went back over to the jewelry department to check. However, he assured me he'd found me something else (judging by the small box, it was also an item of jewelry, so I wondered for the next few weeks what he'd chosen). Well, he'd fooled me! When I opened the gift on Christmas Eve and expressed my delighted surprise, he said, "It wasn't there anymore because I'd bought it!"

Dylan goes gangsta with his gifts.

Dylan received from his dad (Mark): two boxes of rice crispy treats studded with M&Ms. (Who doesn't love those?)

From his mom (me): a remote control car; a make-your-own mini lightsaber kit (missing from the picture); a video game called Rare Replay; two DVDs, Max and Safe Haven (he loves that movie); an update of the Guess Who? game the kids all loved so much growing up; a Minions Fart Blaster; a party-size bag of M&Ms for his dispenser; and a 2016 calendar featuring puppies and kittens; and in his stocking a ton of candy plus a small R2-D2 candy dispenser.

From Sarah and Chris: an Xbox gold card for three months of online play.

From Jacob and Danielle: a GoPro-type action camera with a mount for Dylan's snowboard.

From Jake: a K'Nex All-American Roller Coaster building set; a Minecraft Story Mode video game; and a set of nice headphones for Xbox.

Dylan and Jake spent a whole day building this very cool
K'Nex All-American Roller Coaster.

Jake with his mother lode of presents. It's obvious that he's a Star Wars fan!

Jake received from Dylan: a remote control Star Wars X-wing fighter; part one of season nine of Dr. Who (another thing Jake's a big fan of); two Star Wars mugs with hot cocoa mix; and an ornament of R2-D2 wearing antlers!

From Jacob and Danielle: a warm plaid blanket and an ornament of a Star Wars stormtrooper holding a candy cane.

From Chris and Sarah: a Star Wars Lego building set of Luke Skywalker.

From Mark: a box of Russell Stover chocolate-covered nuts.

From Mary: a remote control car; a make-your-own mini lightsaber kit; an R2-D2-shaped Bop It! game; a pair of Star Wars drinking glasses featuring C-3PO and R2-D2 (they'll be handy when he moves into his own place...); and in his stocking a ton of candy plus a small Darth Vader candy dispenser.

Santa brought this game for the whole family!
It's quite challenging.

I didn't take pictures of the married kids with their gifts this year, but here are a few highlights:

Sarah's new engagement ring from Chris.

When Chris and Sarah came over after the movie, Chris was carrying a big wrapped box for Sarah. He hadn't allowed her to open it that morning, but had told her she had to wait and unwrap it in front of her family. So we all watched as she unwrapped progressively smaller boxes nestled inside each other, until she came to a small jewelry box at the heart of the gift. Inside was a new engagement ring. The one Chris gave her when they got engaged almost 6 years ago had broken and lost many of its small diamonds. Sarah loved it, but it was no longer wearable, so she was thrilled with this new ring. It really is beautiful. Nice choice, Chris!

Sarah's opal necklace.

One of the things I wanted to do this Christmas was to buy both Sarah and Danielle some kind of jewelry featuring their October birthstone, opal. Sarah was born on October 27, and then 4 years later Danielle was born on October 28. I wanted to present them with the real thing, but I soon found out that genuine opal is far more expensive than it was ten years ago. So we all ended up with "created" opal, which is still beautiful.

Danielle's opal necklace.

As for the guys, both Jacob and Chris got chef's aprons because they are both amazing cooks who love to whip up delicacies in the kitchen. Jacob's came from Alcatraz during our October vacation. I found Chris's apron at a craft fair here in the pines way back in August. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it, but it's covered in a fun print of all sorts of dog breeds. Very fitting to an animal lover like Chris!

Jacob's chef's apron from Alcatraz Island.

Mark got each of our kids a nice box of candy for Christmas. With limited resources for this holiday season, he decided that candy is always dandy. He was absolutely right. Those candies didn't last long at all!

Family togetherness!

After the gifts had all been opened and admired, we said our good-byes to Jacob and Danielle, who signed off their Skype account, and then we broke out the chocolate silk pie. My dad and Kathy soon said their farewells. It was so fun to have them join us!

Dylan assembles the Pie Face game while Jake assembles Luke Skywalker.

We ended the night with the hilarity that ensues while trying out the new games of the holiday. Pie Face was particularly hilarious. We highly recommend it! As it turned out, Christmas was a wonderful day despite its nontraditional beginning!

Sarah took the first hit during the very first spin of the first round of Pie Face.

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