Friday, January 13, 2017

Christmas 2016 (part 1)

As I'm sure I've mentioned before, Christmas for us is always celebrated in several phases. We spend time with Chris's side of the family, time with my side of the family, and time with just our "little" family unit. There is always a lot of planning on my part that has to take place before Christmas to make sure that everyone gets their time, and this generally means that our family unit will spend our day together opening gifts, enjoying a meal, and doing other Christmas traditions or activities several days before December 25th. Thankfully, Chris always has some vacation time he can take from work around Christmas, so this year we had our day on Thursday, December 22nd. 

When the kids got up that morning, I had grouped all of their gifts into piles for them. I know many families do things differently, but we wrap all of the kids' gifts. We're also really open and honest about Santa. They know he's just for fun and fictional, AND, they know not to mention those things to other kids who may believe he's real!

We also don't let them just dive right into gift opening as soon as they wake up. We have breakfast, brush our teeth, brush our hair, make our beds, etc before it's gift opening time. This is fun in many ways because it really allows anticipation to build. The kids are always PUMPED to start the opening process!

Brooke, Brecklyn, Brianna, Brenson

I say "gift opening process" because we like to take it slow and kind of drag it out. We always begin with stockings. 



Brecklyn and Brooke

Brecklyn and Brooke

(Santa always brings the kids new toothbrushes in their stockings. He's very concerned about dental hygiene, ha!)

After we open stockings, I have the kids give Daddy the presents they got for him. Sometimes, he'll have them give their gifts to me first, but we always start with letting them give. 

Brecklyn giving to a very excited Daddy :-)

Brecklyn loves to give kisses most of all!

Bren giving to Daddy

Bren giving to Momma

Bren LOVES to give me gifts. He's always so eager for me to open things he's picked out for me!

Brianna giving to Momma

Brooke giving to Momma

Brecklyn giving to Momma

After Chris and I have opened our gifts from the kids, we let the kids give each other gifts. I let them all spend about $5 on each of their siblings, so the gifts are small but they love to pick them out. 

Brecklyn was thrilled with the Ariel doll Brianna picked out for her. 

And, she was equally thrilled with the pink dragon Beenie Boo that Bren picked out for her!

She immediately started giving it kisses. So sweet!

Brecklyn was so expressive and excited throughout the entire time we were opening gifts. Her reactions were always BIG. Brooke, on the other hand, was super serious about everything. We couldn't decide if she was overwhelmed with it all or just all business about it, but they were both so cute to watch!

After opening their sibling gifts, we let the kids open a few of their "big" gifts from us one at a time. This is why it takes a while! However, we feel it's important for them to learn to share in their siblings' joy and watch while others open their gifts. 

Brooke and Brecklyn

Of course, the Bigs knew the drill and had a blast opening their gifts. After taking a few pictures, I finally just put the camera down and enjoyed watching my kiddos.



Brooke Ellie (so serious!)

Brooke and Brecklyn



Do you think she's excited??? Haha.


Brooke and Daddy

She got a Bible!

Brecklyn and Momma

Oh, look! She got a Bible, too!

After opening about three gifts one by one, we finally just let all the kids have at it (they each had about three gifts left). It was so much fun for us to just sit back and watch them tear into things!

As soon as we were finished opening everything. I had them all lay in the wrapping paper for our annual "in the wrapping paper" photo. 

I love this cute little crew!

The gift opening takes us several hours, so by the time we're finished with it all, it's time for Chris and I to work on lunch. The past several years, we've put stew meat in the crockpot with some seasoning early that morning. Once it's finished, we mix it into some brown gravy and serve it over mashed potatoes with corn and rolls. It's an easy meal, but something we don't have often so also special. I think we can officially say that it's our traditional "small family" Christmas lunch!

After lunch, we put the twins down for their nap and spent the afternoon playing with the Bigs. It was pretty perfect!

Brianna couldn't have been happier with her new doll, Meg. 

Once the twins got up, I insisted on trying to get a family picture. This is never an easy task! The photos aren't perfect by any means, but I love them anyhow! (Brecklyn was only happy if she was standing behind Daddy on the hearth. I don't love the positioning, but we weren't going to fight with her about it, either. Pick your battles, right?)

I am so thankful for an entire day to spend as a family at home. Opening gifts is always fun, but the true gift is being together!

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