... was wonderful. On Christmas Eve we had an early afternoon Christmas dinner of complete with my favorite (mashed potatoes) and cheesecake bites (a MAZ ing). Then we changed tradition a bit and opened presents after lunch in the early afternoon. Evalee wasn't too excited about opening presents, as I anticipated, but by the end of it she was getting the concept enough that she was excited to pull things out of the paper as soon as she saw them (especially if they were books). The hit of the day was, without question, a Little People scooter with spots for people on the front that Uncle Eric got her. I thought the scooter part of it might be a couple months away from her interest, but I was sorely mistaken. We took it out of its packaging and she immediately wanted to hop on and go. The smile and squeals she gave us as we pushed her around the loop from the living room to the kitchen to the dining room and back is something I will never forget. Then we watched some Muppet Christmas Carol and took a family nap. Unfortunately we relaxed just a hair too much and ended up rushing a little bit to get ready and head out for the Christmas Eve service at church. I was a bit frazzled because I forgot her tights, hairbow, and Travis's pants, but my family talked me down from the ledge. Once we settled in for the service, my usual fuzzy Christmas feeling started. The Christmas Eve service will always be my definition of Christmas -- the cold, drafty gym filled with familiar faces, the bright lights on the stage, the curled hair and velvety dresses on the tiny little kids singing their hearts out for their parents, my dad's complaining about the pointless nature of a bell choir, the sarcastic comments exchanged breathlessly between my brother and I, and then finally the Silent Night sing-a-long, complete with the same melty little candle I was holding the year before. When the service was over, we decided to just head home instead of heading to our usual after church party at my aunt's house because the roads were so awful. Our little angel fell asleep for the night in the car.
Or so we thought.
As I laid our beautiful little daughter in her crib, dressed in her Christmas pajamas for her visit from Santa, she decided to wake up. And not just sort of wake up. She really woke up. And stayed up for another couple hours, excited crawling from present to present we brought home from Grandma's house, too excited to sit on a lap. Finally, around midnight and after over an hour of rocking, she gave in.
So of course, she did not give us our usual way-too-early wake up call. Which wouldn't have been a big deal if we didn't have a day full of events to get to. So, after sleeping a half hour longer than we anticipated the longest she would let us sleep, we had to coax her awake so she could come out and see what Santa brought for her. It didn't take her long to catch on and soon we were off. We had a great time opening presents. I think her favorite of the presents we had left for her under the tree was the smaller Bert doll that Travis found for her at a second-hand shop. Her eyes lit up like she had bumped into an old friend.
Then we headed to Aunt Billie's for Christmas breakfast -- pancakes, casseroles, muffins, and lots of other things. Plus, coffee :). We had a nice time catching up with everyone. I was happy to see everyone, as I had only seen a few of my cousins twice this entire year. After we left there, we headed back home to regroup, shower, and pack for the days ahead. Talk about making a list and checking it twice. I was so nervous I would forget something important (especially after the tights fiasco of '10 the night before) but as soon as I was convinced our suitcase, IKEA bag, shopping bag, and duffel bag was all we would need for two nights away from home we headed off to the Parchert family Christmas. I was also pumped to get to go there this year since it hasn't worked out to go for the past several years. The afternoon was filled with hyper children and stolen pickle rolls from the fridge before dinnertime. Once we were stuffed to the gills, we said our goodbyes and headed off for the 3 1/2 drive to Virden.
The drive went pretty well. There was a rough patch of time where Evalee was not enjoying being in her carseat, and not being able to console her properly was frustrating me a bit too much, but after a rest stop rejuvenation we were okay to hit the road and finish out the trip. Luckily, she fell asleep about 2-2 1/2 hours into the drive.
The next morning, Evalee gave me a 6 a.m. wake up call, so we headed downstairs to play with Grandma's toys until Grandma and Grandpa came down. I was not very hesitant to accept their offer to play with her while I caught a little more sleep. The alarm we set didn't go off for whatever reason and Travis and I, once again, found ourselves scrambling a bit to get ready in time for the day. It all worked out and soon we settled in for some delicious Christmas breakfast with the Kershaw favorites and, I'm confident, Travis's definition of Christmas: witty banter around a table filled with hot homemade doughnuts, chocolate milk, and biscuits and gravy. Then we settled down for presents and Evalee and Alex were surprised with a dinosaur scooter and a tricycle, respectively. They were both very pumped -- so pumped, in fact, it took some convincing to get them to leave their bikes for a little while to open more presents. Evalee got SO many cool toys she still doesn't know what she wants to play with more. There was a consensus amongst all of us that Grandma and Grandpa went just a tad bit "overboard" on presents for all of us this year, but all the presents were very exciting and very much appreciated. I feel a little more like a Kershaw now that I have my very own Bunn coffee maker (and yes, it has been broken in already).
After playing and hanging out for a while with everyone, we headed down to Hillsboro for the Furness family Christmas. Evalee was excited to be in her element -- in a big crowd full of new faces to giggle at -- but she was starting to show signs of wear as she got a little clingy at times. It was great to see all the cousins, especially little Paxton. I can't believe how big he is -- he even weighs 2 pounds more than Eva already! Eva got spoiled again with more presents -- a pillow with her name on it that she loves to hug, a tree swing that we have talked about getting for months now (we're thinking about putting it up in the porch though, if it works out!), a singing book, and nesting blocks, among a lot of other cute things. We had our adult gift drawing exchange, which is always a guarantee for some good laughs and took pictures. Then it was time for goodbye. It wasn't as sad of a goodbye as usual, though, since we will all see each other again soon for Cody and Aby Lee's wedding in February!
After all four Christmases, we headed back to Williamsville to spend the night a bit closer to home at Adam and Molly's house. It was another early morning wake up call from Evalee, but it all worked out because she was able to get a lot of good bonding time in playing with Alex and his toys. He was nice a nice big cousin letting her play with his things, take bites of his applesauce, and steal a few of his Cheerios. He's going to make such a good big brother. Once we were up and packed and coffeed, we headed home.
It was glorious to be home again, but wonderful to have had the chance to see so much of our families. It truly was a magical first Christmas as a family.
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