We began our Christmas journey on Thursday, Dec. 19th (Chris was able to leave school a little early to give us a head start on traffic). We made it to Charleston, WV and stayed the night before continuing on to Tim and Jen's house in Toledo, Ohio. We arrived around 2 and the rest of the gang trickled in later that same day. The kids had a great time playing together. Pap read them a cute Christmas story.
On Saturday, we had our big Christmas gift-opening and various exchanges (local beers, homemade gifts, White Elephant). We added a few new games to the mix--like the paper plate drawing on your head and Left-Right-Center. Despite Tim's best attempts to play the "Lucky Chicken" song each time he rolled the dice, Chris was the winner of the game and took home all the moo-lah! It was exciting to have Aunt Charla, Chelsea, Aunt Penny, and Emily join us for the evening festivities as well. Tim cooked up a scrumptious dinner of beef tenderloin, green beans, hashbrown casserole, salad, and rolls.
We had to make the long trek home on Monday and the kids truly did a wonderful job in the car for the 11 hours. Tuesday was Christmas Eve and we were able to enjoy a special kid-friendly service at 4 pm that day at our church. Grandmama, Papa, Kelly, Joel, Mommaw, Poppaw, and Connie were able to join us for this as well. Then we headed off to our traditional Asian meal at a nearby restaurant (Red Bowl this year, but Chris says it has to be Wan Fu next year because it's so much better). And afterwards, we drove around to look at the lights. This time both kiddos were awake enough to know what was going on. Maggie's favorite houses were anything with "Santa" on them (as that is the one item she figured out how to recognize this year). Riley liked anything with lots of colors!
Ready to go shopping? --Maggie is!
I'm the biggest sucker for traditions. We have a sausage and egg casserole and this candy cane pastry every year. Many thanks to my mom for making the pastry for us this year---it was delicious as always and brings back many childhood memories!
We headed over to Grandma and Papa's house for Christmas lunch with Kelly, Joel, and Connie. It was delicious medley of Beef Bourguignon, ham, mac and cheese, rolls, collards, 7 layer coconut cake (both vanilla AND chocolate), and lots of other tasty sweets and treats. We came back 2 days later to celebrate Christmas again with Edward and his family. We drew names this year and Chris was thrilled to receive his GPS running watch from his Secret Santa (Joel) and some help from the merry elves (Bonnie and Ed). I had a great time making traveling memory notebooks for both Joel and Edward and my Secret Santa (Amanda) surprised me with a beautiful turquoise Infinity scarf and ceramic coffee mug, several bottles of Bath & Body Works lotions and shower gels, and some exotic Chai-flavored marshmallows. We had a good time playing Reverse Charades together that evening and sitting out by the fire pit together.