Owen was so great in church this year! Our group took up an entire row of a pew, so he was able to travel back and forth between all of us through Mass, which kept him occupied. He loved going up to the front of church when the Christmas pageant / Nativity scene was performed. He sat so sweetly with his legs stretched out in front of him and his hands in his lap and watched intently while the story was told.
We stayed until after communion when O wanted to go to our usual spot in church, the vestibule. we lasted a few minutes out there before deciding we should probably make an exit before things went south. I'm really hoping we will be able to stay the entire mass next year since one of my most favorite things about Christmas is hearing and singing along to Joy to the World at the end of Christmas Eve mass -- haven't heard it since O was born!
For dinner we kept it simple with a make your own Panini Bar. I love that this allows everyone to have what they want for dinner -- especially because we're trying to please around 20 hungry people ranging in ages 2 to 72+.
We had tri tip, chicken, bacon and salami, with a variety of cheeses, spreads and other things to make paninis. I labeled all the condiments and spreads this year because apparently two years ago, the last time we did this, some our nieces and nephews mistook the horseradish for mayo -- whoops! We also served two kinds of soup and a salad.
We started a new tradition last year of doing a White Elephant gift exchange in addition to the Secret Santa exchange we do with Keith's family. It's always a fun game (no tears or hurt feelings have resulted) and it's really fun seeing what each family come sup with. This year our gifts to give for the exchange were a giant red (yes, edible) gummy bear, an Elf nail polish variety pack and a roll of toilet paper with $10 in it.
Here's a cute little story of O during the gift exchange:
I didn't think he'd want to participate or know what was going on when we played the White Elephant game, so I didn't worry about him opening something like a coffee mug or bottle of wine for the exchange that he wouldn't like. So, when it came around for his turn to play he picked a box and opened it with serious excitement (probably hoping it was a car or dinosaur), and it turned out to be a Starbucks mug. Everyone cheered in hopes it would convince him his pick was a cool one, and it did for a moment, because he threw both hands in the air with a big smile and a little bounce like he'd won the grand prize of White Elephant gifts. Then it set in for a minute and he smiled and said, "Opps! I got the wrong one, guys!" with a shrug. I almost died from how sweet that boy is. What a love! I quickly grabbed a gift our neighbors had given him in hopes he'd be content with it instead, which he was. It all worked out in the end!
We ended up with a cool lantern flash light (for O) and a cute Starbucks mug + bottle of wine! After the gift exchanges we put O down to sleep Keith got busy putting his gifts from Santa together with the help of our nieces Jessica and Holly. I sat back and watched!
After naps and some cleaning up we headed over to my Grandpa's house with my family to celebrate some more. I literally plucked O up from his nap and strapped him into his seat, and didn't even bother changing him out of his jammies. We were all exhausted by this point, but we rallied and had a great time!
I made these Tyler Florence Scalloped Potatoes to bring over and they were the best I've ever made. Mine usually turn out a bit watery, but these were fantastic!
O had a ball opening even MORE gifts and running around my Grandpa's house!
It was a lovely Christmas, and I'm sad it went by so quickly. This was such a fun age for celebrations and the wonderment of Christmas! Hope you all had a nice holiday with your families too!