I always feel so blessed at Christmas. Jeremiah and I both come from large families that still all get together for holidays. Our kids and ourselves are showered with love and gifts from our families. We have a great time hanging out with our families and celebrating. We attend Mass as a family and count our many blessings. Again, we are blessed.
A few weeks ago I realized that this year we had 6 Christmases to attend in 1 week. Only 2 fell on the same day, which meant we were going to be busy. I had started shopping months ago, and felt that I was fairly prepared (gift-wise) for all the exchanges.
The week before Christmas came, and the kids’ anticipation was growing. We really try to emphasize the real meaning of Christmas, and we did a lot of talking about St Nick and the relation to Santa and figured out when in the mix of things we were going to Mass. We talked a lot about Christmas being Jesus’ birthday; however G still thinks it’s his own birthday I think! I bought all the food that I (thought) I needed for all of the get togethers.
Commence Christmas 2012.
Christmas #1: Saturday December 22nd. Plainfield, IA 2 hrs away.
6am- wake up, pack kids and baskets that I had prepared the night before (go me!) of gifts, food, toys and activities to keep the kids occupied in the car. 8am- see 1 patient in Durant at the clinic (she has to be seen daily). 9am- jump in the rental van and take off with my mom, dad, husband, 2 kids, and brother. (We rented a minivan for this weekend so our entire family (minus aunt Mel, who had to work) could commute to the Christmases in just 1 car.) 9:05am- kids start to whine, ask for food. We are 2 miles out of Durant. 9am-noon- Drive to Plainfield, IA where the Christmas is held at my Aunt Sherry’s house, my dad’s sister. Roads were AWFUL! We came to a complete stop on the Interstate at least once and had several times of only driving 30 mph due to the thick ice pack on the road. Noon-3:30pm- Eat appetizers, soups at Aunt Sherry’s. Help kids open gifts. G ecstatic about Batman toy. Hang out and joke with family. Participate in white elephant exchange, leave with a grease gun lamp and miniature road sign. 3:30-5:30- drive back home in the minivan on much improved roads, as this should only be a 2 hr trip. Kids sleep the whole way home. 5:30-5:45- unpack van and re-pack our car. Decide to stop over at J’s parent’s house. 6-7:30pm- hang out at Bart and Julie’s house. Realize I have not made the peach pies for my dad’s Christmas gift. 8pm-Go home and start making food for the next day. Unpack car. 9pm-Finally get kids to bed. 11pm-finally get myself to bed.
Christmas #2: Sunday December 23rd. Waukon, IA 3hrs away.
6:50am- Wake up, pack kids and baskets. Realize we are running way later than we were yesterday at this time. 8am-See my patient in Durant. 9am-Leave in the van. 9:15am- Kids asking for food and crying. 11am- Stop to stretch our legs in Independence, IA. 12:15-Arrive in Waukon. 12:30-6:30pm- Enjoy family, eat meatballs, veggies, coconut balls. Participate in another white elephant exchange. Help kids unwrap gifts. Have fun with the fam. Watch as L’s mood deteriorates and G gets crazier by the second. Watch and L and her cousin Lena fight over toys in the same way her mom and I did when we were little 😉 Put kids in pajamas. 6:30pm- Pack up the van, leave for home. 6:45 pm- L and G asleep. 9pm- I fall asleep in the van. 9:30pm- Arrive back in Durant, re-pack our car, remove car seats, realize it is verrry cold!!! 10pm- Arrive back to our house, place sleeping kids in bed. Unpack our car. Get my stuff ready for work the next morning. Realize I have enough leftovers that I won’t need to make as much food as I thought.(Hooray!) 11:30pm- Collapse into bed, sleep.
Christmas #3 December 24th. Durant, IA 15 mins away
5:50am- wake up, get ready for work. 7am- First patient in Wilton. Work till 11am, see 6 patients. 11:30- Arrive in Durant for Christmas at J’s mom and dad’s house. 1:30pm Eat ham, italian beef, potatoes, fudge. Open gifts, enjoy family. G and J get matching superman pj’s. G insists on wearing his superman pj’s, complete with cape, for the next 36 hrs. L runs into walls and furniture and dogs repeatedly with her new doll stroller. 4pm- Pack up our car and drive home, kids fall asleep. Arrive home and place kids into beds. Unpack car. Blow snow. Realize I forgot to buy a few gift cards. Order gift cards online. Wrap G & L’s gifts from us. Realize they have already gotten some of these gifts. Realize they already have wayyy more than they need. Decide to return a few of the gifts we have bought them. Accept the fact that my house is in a current state of disaster. Make 2 peach pies. 6:30pm- G wakes up. 8pm- I wake L up. 8:45pm- Get dressed in nice clothes, leave for Mass. 9:30-10:30 Mass. Beautiful choir music. Wonderful service. 10:45- Family picture. 11:30 pm- Arrive home, put L to bed. G insists on staying up. Finally coax him to bed, complete in Superman pj’s. 12:30- Carry train table in from Suburban, where it has been hiding. J and I attempt to set up train set in it’s entirety with very foggy brains. 1:30 am- Sleep.
Christmas #4 December 25th, HOME
7am- Wake to hearing G running down the stairs, then whispering to himself something about a train. We hear him playing with it. Venture downstairs and attempt to look surprised. He is stoked. 7:30am- L wakes up. Unwrap the other gifts. Play with train table. Read new books. Listen to Christmas music. 10am- Get ready, pack food, gifts, games for next Christmas.
Christmas #5 December 25th, Durant, IA 15 mins away
10:30 am- Leave for Durant after deciding to take the Suburban today vs my car. Just seems to hold our stuff better. 11:30 am- Begin Scrabble. 1pm- Eat pizza, tacos, coconut balls, cookies. Aunt Mel arrives with ‘mountains’ of gifts for G and L. 1:30-5pm- Open gifts off and on, eat more, watch National Lampoon’s Christmas vacation. L takes 2 hr nap (Hallelujah!) 8pm- Goodbyes, thank yous, pack up Suburban; good thing we brought it, as it was full!!! 8:15-8:30 Unpack Burb and watch as Christmas seems to have multiplied in my house. Whoa. 9pm- finally get kids to go to bed. 9-10pm- Attempt to put away, organize, clean up a little in the house. Feel like I’m not even making a dent in the pile. 10pm- Count our blessings, thankful for all great people, experiences, things in our lives. Bed.
Christmas #6 December 29th, Long Grove, IA 30 mins away
This Christmas has not yet happened. It is the largest, noisiest, and most eventful of all the Christmases, and I could devote an entire blog post just to it. And it’s a lot of fun. That being said, I am going to take a break from Christmas get-togethers until then. I’m kinda tired.
Merry Christmas!!!! Hope the joy and hope of this Christmas season has filled your hearts as it has ours!