Christmas is such a wonderful season for so very many special reasons! Of course, taking time to honor the birth of Christ is definitely one of those. Thanks to my mom for getting us this manger scene to share with Riley. I'm also thankful for the extended time off from work and opportunities to spend time with family and friends. The week before Christmas, we took a trip just the 3 of us to McAddenville (aka Christmastown, USA) to see the beautiful lights and listen to the church bells as they rang out familiar songs. Riley celebrated the joy of giving with his class at CPA with their Christmas exchange and abundance of holiday snacks. Chris and I were able to enjoy lunch together at some of our favorite restaurants (RuSan's and Meskerem Ethiopian Cuisine). We also celebrated Edward's 30th birthday down in Charleston with his pirate-themed pARRRty!On Christmas Eve we attended our church's kid-friendly 4 pm service that used the Nativity scene and hymns to retell the Christmas story. Riley enjoyed the music and would clap after every song. Afterwards, we ate Chinese at Lui Lui's in Fort Mill before heading out to "see the lights" (one of my favorite traditions as a child). We found a great neighborhood in Rock Hill that went all out for a friendly competition and the top houses were quite a scene! Too bad Riles fell asleep halfway through our trip around down. Oh well, there's always next year! We put our tired boy to bed after putting out some cookies and milk for Santa.
The next morning, of course, was Christmas day! Riley noticed the toys under the tree right away, but chose to finish his milk before waking up enough to go and explore them. We opened our stockings and then ate breakfast casserole and candy cane-shaped pastry. Next, we curled up on the couch as a family and Chris read "the Christmas story" as Riley helped turn the pages in the book. Finally, we took our time leisurely opening our gifts to each other under the tree. In addition to the gifts from Santa (the Tonka trucks and Elmo doll), Riley received an animal sounds puzzle, outfit, Nerf ball set, and a few other little toys; but his favorite toy of all that he ended up spending the most time playing with was the Elmo sippy cups we got him! Go figure!
That afternoon, we headed over to Grandma and Papa's where we feasted on prime rib, strawberry pretzel salad, asparagus, twice-baked potatoes, and 7-layer coconut cake (and that's only after we had already nibbled on cheese straws, ham rolls, date balls, rum balls, peanut brittle, pepper jelly with cream cheese spread, and a host of other delicious treats and sweets)! I went with Kelly, Joel, and dad to see Mission Impossible at the theater. On Monday, Edward, Amanda, Tripp, and Liam arrived for Round 2 of Christmas gift-giving. Papa diligently passed out gifts in the best order he could manage, while Grandma snapped pictures and made sure each gift was intact. Kelly and I had fun playing on our iPods, while Liam and Riley zoomed cars down the giant racetrack Uncle Edward bought us. Meanwhile, Joel and his girlfriend RJ took the chaos in stride and narrated the events with funny antidotes. Tripp loved opening every gift and supervising what toys the younger 2 boys were getting. Chris racked up with running wear, while Edward collected Polo shirts in every color of the rainbow!
We began the next phase of our vacation the next day by traveling to Indiana and spending a few nights with Nan and Pap before heading to Ohio. We were able to meet up with Anderson and have him stay with us in Yorktown for a day. Grandma and Grandpa Condra, Charla and Chelsea, and even Ben, Brandy, Lucy and Alice were able to drop by for a visit on Thursday to see all the kiddies. Highlights included hearing Grandpa's stories about his childhood, the cousins' bathtime, pork tenderloin sandwiches, Arlo being constantly harrassed by 2 little boys, and enjoying time together. The following day, we made our way to Toledo for the official Fisher Christmas exchange. Once we had everyone together on Saturday, we had a wonderful time opening gifts again. Riley loved his keyboard; Chris loved his new hat; and I loved my Zumba Wii game. As the night came to a close, we were able to ring in the new year with games, fancy hats, and a champagne toast.
Christmas 2011 was full of wonderful memories that will be cherished for many years to come!