Episode 3: Christmas Joy is . . .

. . . connecting with the people we love!

Duh. But so true. Slowing down and focusing on family is simply the best part of Christmas. After I finally finished my Christmas cards, I put away my computer and all my kitchen planning stuff and just enjoyed the slow days. I even downloaded a book on my Kindle and finally read (The Help), something I don't take enough time to do any more. 

Speaking of Christmas cards, I ordered mine from Pinhole Press this year, and I couldn't have been more pleased with the quality of their printing. Their card stock is high quality also. I searched the net to find a 15% promo code to use also, which kept the price reasonable. They had these adorable photo return address labels which was the icing on the cake for me.


I was addressing these late at night and the lighting was poor. Forgive the poor picture quality.

I've kept up with the tradition of sending cards now for several years, and the best part? Getting everyone's cards in return! I just love the stack of photos and letters decorating my shelf! 

I delayed getting our family photo this year until it was too late to do it outside (comfortably.) So I came up with plan B and hung a sheet in our living room. It worked out.

Another Christmas tradition we are trying to continue is to build a real gingerbread house. Last year we made 2 smaller ones, so this year we had to change it up and make one BIG one.

We found out those are a little bit of work, and they need a little structural support until that icing dries (one or 2 walls may or may not have caved in, ahem. And our roof could have been a bit saggy and ours walls crooked. Adds charm.)

We even made windows out of melted life-savers. The whole project was very much a group effort. Even Tom got involved making the cardboard template. We had lots of help with the decorating. 

Thankfully. There was a little mishap during the construction phase. As I was rolling out the dough, my mom's marble rolling pin rolled off the floor and on to my foot. Fortunately it resulted in saving the floor from any cracked tiles. Ha. Unfortunately my foot did not fair so well. My mom had a boot from a recent broken toe, so I spent lots of time icing my foot and used the boot to hobble until Monday rolled around and I could get an x-ray. The x-ray revealed no broken bones, but I still am left with a very swollen and bruised foot. At least I can walk on it, and I have at least 2 pairs of shoes I can wear comfortably. The whole thing is a very inconvenient excuse not to exercise. (Bad timing coming off the holidays, you know. And I have an upcoming event to prepare that involves swimsuit wearing. No, not a pageant. More like a trip.)

Nevertheless, we completed the gingerbread house:

I suppose in some light it looks more like a haunted house. And now after a week of sitting around it looks even more haunted. They are tasty, you know. The porch posts are gone, a couple of windows have been smashed out. . .

We opened presents with my family Christmas Eve day.

Sarah was recovering from a little hernia surgery a couple of days prior, so her usual energy level was down a notch or two. Not for long, though.

The babies kept things lively enough. How much longer do we get to call them babies?

Board games are the favorite way to pass time during the holidays.

Lucky us, we got to celebrate again on Christmas day with Tom's family. We started out with a Christmas feast of rotisserie beef.

And then the much anticipated gift opening. This year Nanna started a new tradition with the Grandchildren of 3 gifts each representing gold, frankensense, and myrrh, and also one "love" gift. 

Somehow I ended up with the most pictures of Eva this year.

Her favorite gift was this little pillow pet. She rolled around on the floor with it for about 10 minutes and didn't much care about opening gifts after that.

Here are my two nephews in their new ski gear:

Really, they are smiling under those masks. :)

Our blessings have been bountiful again this year. I hope I can keep a huge spirit of thankfulness in my heart every day in this new year and treasure each and every moment as a gift. I have made no other resolutions, but I suppose above all that is my greatest goal.

Happy New Year to you and yours! Thanks to all of you for following our adventure on this blog. I treasure your comments and your friendship.