We let Madeline dictate when we started our Christmas morning. Lucky for us she slept in until 7:00am. I made the kids sit on the top of the stairs like I do every year before coming down so I could get a quick photo. It really doesn’t matter how old you are because Christmas morning in our house is such a party. There were probably too many presents under the tree this year and some fun gifts that Santa left out for the kids that were scattered across the family room. This year from Santa Andrew got a ski backpack with all the safety tools he would need as well as a gift certificate to a 3-day Avalanche course. He also got a really nice suitcase for his mission. Santa brought Peter his Letterman jacket and both Emma and Abby got apple watches. Madeline was so excited to see that Santa brought her a brand-new doll with a doll stroller and a doll blanket to match her own blanket. The kids got a variety of other fun things such as new swim bags, games, extra apple watch bands, little Momiji dolls, stretch Armstrong, mini deck of Uno cards, books, new clothes and shoes, fun socks, stress balls, toys, Legos, sunglasses, and DNA kits. Probably the biggest surprise gift for the kids were their new AWAY suitcases and a surprise trip to Germany. They did not see that one coming. They were beyond excited. Of course, Mike outdid himself again and got me a fun big gift. He got me an American Beauty octagon barrel Henry repeating arms 22-gauge lever action rifle and a 9mm Ruger semi auto handgun. The rifle was absolutely gorgeous. I was so surprised and excited to try them both out. This year for Mike’s big gift I got him a turntable with some classic vinyl’s such as Pearl Jam, Weezer, AC/DC, and Queen. He absolutely loved it and was really surprised that I finally got him a clever and fun gift. We all had fun opening our many gifts, eating cinnamon rolls, and listening to Mike’s new vinyl records. It was a perfect Christmas morning!
Christmas Eve is always an exciting time and even though most of our kids are older they still enjoy the excitement of it all. Emma made the sugar cookie dough this year and it was so delicious. It was hard to not keeping eating the dough. Madeline loved picking out different cookie cutters and cutting out cookies to put on the pan. The girls got really creative this year with the icing and made some pretty cute cookies. With all the baking that was going on today it was a nice break to stop and let the kids have fun with the Christmas cookies. We had a fabulous dinner of ham, stuffing, deviled eggs, sweet potatoes, jello and rolls. After dinner I handed out everyone’s new Christmas pajamas. Madeline was so excited to put on her new Frozen nightgown. There is just something so fun about new pajamas on Christmas Eve. The kids turned in relatively early after some reading in the scriptures and family prayer. I’m glad that the anticipation and excitement is still there with the older kids. They still get excited for Christmas morning and that is a good thing.
Every year at the beginning of December the elves come to visit, and we celebrate by having our annual North Pole Breakfast. The kids still look forward to this fun tradition even though most of them are all older now. It was tempting to not do the elves this year since Madeline is the only small kid left in our family, but Abby insisted that we do it anyways. This year instead of doing it on the first Saturday of the month we decided to do it for dinner one night while Grandma Anne and Grandpa Franz were visiting. It was fun to share one of our traditions with them. Everyone had a great time stuffing their faces with Mike’s famous buttermilk pancakes, bacon, berries, and powdered donuts. There is never a shortage of powdered donuts during our North Pole breakfast. It is usually one of the only times during the year that we eat this white powdery goodness.
The day after Thanksgiving we got the Christmas decorations out and started decorating the house. This included setting up the tree and putting up the Christmas tree lights and ribbon in preparation for decorating the tree. On the last day of November after dinner, everyone got their PJ’s on and helped to decorate the tree. Decorating the Christmas tree together after Thanksgiving has become one of our traditions and one in which we look forward to. I made Grandma Candace’s lemon poppyseed bread again this year. We listened to Christmas music, ate yummy bread, and picked out our favorite ornaments to put on the tree. The kids were good about helping Madeline reach the top part of the tree. We let her put the star on the tree again this year and she was finally able to do it by herself. The only help she needed was Mike lifting her up to the top of the tree. She was so proud of herself.