Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014: Unwrapped

The Christmas season is like a beautifully wrapped gift. When presented, it delivers joyful anticipation. "For me? Oh my! Why thank you! Whatever could it be?"

And then the careful process of opening begins....

Formal evening dinner at grandma's welcomes every member of the family. We've grown, from just the five of us, to eight adults as sons-in-law joined us over the years. My favorite moments include the quiet time before arrival when candlelit places are set, crab bisque is ready to be ladled and hands will soon join in grateful prayer for the blessing of togetherness.

Grandchildren, six so far, occupy the nearby "kids' table." But that's not, by any means, the first "cousin event" of the season. That honor goes to "Christmas Movie Night" at Aunt Christy's. And while the feature title responds to currently popular demand, many things remain the same. Aunt Mary Jo's annual gift of matching jammies keep hot-chocolate-sipping and popcorn-munching kids comfy and cute. This year, Brielle's canopied bed was the site of tumbling chaos for parental paparazzi pictures!

I'm delighted that my daughter chose "Elf on the Shelf" pjs. We're all fans of that little tattle tale, and "elf haters" don't bother us one bit. Our kids excitedly exchange escapade details with cousins and classmates and follow every ritualistic rule. Family bonding, creative thinking, early morning anticipation - each one further enriches the best time of the year!

Christmas cookies - we bake 'em, we eat 'em! This is our fourth year of doing that together, and more pint size participants seem to pop up annually. This year there were seven present - the newest (he'll be born on December 26th!) tucked inside mommy's tummy, hiding behind one of three aprons I made for my daughters to wear each year from now on.

A half dozen hand print reindeer blaze across the bottom half. Wisely, I've left room for more! A wreath of buttoned up yo yos graces the bodice. Hand quilted snow swirls fill in the background and everything else is outlined in stitches.

Grandma's very first Christmas 2010 Cookie Baking Party hosted just the boys - age two at the time. This year, along with Brielle at four, the "big kids" are old pros at the sprinkle station and handle those icing bottles with confident ease.

Youngest of the baking bunch, Kaylee, a newbie at the decorating table, declares,
"I have an icing bottle and I know how to use it!"

And even though dainty little Angeline prefers to taste each morsel before proceeding, there are still plenty of intact and yummy cookies for each family to take home and enjoy!

Nick gets it. "We did that last year!" he shouts when dinner is dismissed and we gather for grandma's "enhanced" reading of "The Night Before Christmas." I'm a "tradition-maker" if there ever was one, and so indeed, my sweet little Nick, this is the second year grandchildren cluster at my feet with fuzzy pet finger puppet mice to raise up with shouts of glee whenever grandma randomly inserts the word "mouse" into the tale of that storied "little old driver" who will forever be "so lively and quick!"

I can't help but wonder how many years I might be indulged with willing participation in this ritual. And if some day, many years ahead, these children will rediscover a familiar furry face tucked away among ornaments of old. I hope they will smile warmly at the memory of Christmas eves clustered with cousins alongside the tree, listening for the magic word!

And then it happens.

Present time!

The speculation is nearly as much fun as the opening....

But not really!.......

Yes, over here grandchildren are indulged. But each of the older ones has been guided by parents wise and compassionate to give time, talent and treasure to those less fortunate. The boys are finally old enough to volunteer at the animal shelter, walking dogs and petting cats. Each child also purchased a toy from savings to donate to another, one whom they will never meet. For that reason, the pride I feel over their own generosity makes these moments so much more special. They've given us all so much. It's their turn to receive.

I'm given presents too. This despite my assertion that grandmothers don't really want "things" from their children, they just want to do things with them! But I get both. And I am very grateful. There's a lovely box of "made-by-mommy-and-me" fudge from Brielle. Wow. Squares and squares of different flavors and toppings - so good - too good, really! I'm glad grandpa has his own. Mine are just for me!

Wine, too! Bottles large and lovely. If you ever hear that this grandma "got run over by a reindeer," you'd be wise to suspect my now fully stocked wine rack as a contributing factor!

And then there's this zany and utterly charming critter! He's crafted of wild bird seed and comes with his own pet mouse and a wire rack for hanging outside. It will be tricky to set it where our well pampered squirrels can't make short order lunch of it, but this "crazy cat lady" is really delighted with her new and fanciful feline!

Speaking of new pets, this one appeared on Christmas morning, left by Santa at Brielle's house. She was quickly named "Elfie," allowing me to add a great-grand-pig to my collection of little ones to love!

"Squeak! I'm as cute as a button!"

Inside my gift of Christmas I found the joy of Jesus in family fun, friendly faces and festive food. I found a fortune in fabulous fudge! I found cousins and cookie crumbs and the blessing of beautiful daughters and handsome and loving sons. I found presents to open and many to give. I found meaningful memories, prayers and peace.......

and just one more thing too!
 - this cute little face,
frosted in green and sprinkled in blue!

And this was my Christmas.


  1. Such a delightful time - everyone is just darling. Love the matching jammies too - that is quite a labor of love from your daughter. The traditions are wonderful - and even at 10 and 13 our grandsons still humor Grammy with her silly songs and readings - and our daughters love it too - adding traditions to their kids' lives that they enjoyed so many years ago when they were kids. A new tradition - Skypeing with our grandson in WV - not the same as being together but it sure is better than you can ever hope for. Donnie told us that "they went Trick or Treating and sang christmas songs" (their preschool took them to the senior care home and each child had drawn a name and gave their senior citizen a gift bag and then they sang for the residents). A good tradition there too,even though at 3 years old he has Halloween and Christmas a little mixed together - it certainly was a cute story to relate to friends.

  2. What a beautiful Christmas you have had and I loved reading about every magical moment! As you keep adding Grandchildren each Christmas just gets better and better -- as do the cookies and the frosting covered faces. Since we will never get the chance to spend Christmas together thank you for sharing it with all of us here in cyber space. Merry Christmas, Joyce and may 2015 be a wonderful year filled with health, happiness and family (and friends!). xo

  3. I loved reading about your Christmas...those kids would melt anyone's heart! You are one lucky grandma! And congratulations on the new addition, your heart must be overflowing!

    Love and hugs to you, dear lady!

    Jane xx

  4. What a wonderful Christmas. I know exactly what you mean, the best gift is spending time with the grandkids. But the thoughtful wrapped-up gifts are sweet reminders of their love, even on days when we can't be with them.

  5. Hey, I DUCKED when I got to Kaylee because I am quite sure she was ready to squirt that icing at ME! :)

    What a beautiful post, Joyce. Lovely family, photos and that new one coming right around the corner, here now and a new blessing to you all :) XO

  6. Your grandchildren are adorable.. I am sure Christmas at your house is lots of wonderful fun! You are blessed with a lovely family.. I wish you and your family a happy & healthy New Year!

  7. The Waltons didn't have a Christmas this good and you added a handsome new grand baby. Wow. Do you provide therapy for the rest of us? LOL All kidding aside, this post was beautiful and shows what a talented grandma can do and how true love keeps a family together and happy. Those daughters and grandchildren are lucky people, and I know they know it. :-) Here's to more fun for you and the kids in 2015. We're all looking forward to your adventures.

  8. Oh how fun. I have enjoyed several cookie decorating get togethers with one set of my grandkids, including one "Christmas in July." And the other set is quite as much a fan of the Elf as your crew.

    They grow so fast, don't they! I am so glad I started blogging as it helps me remember so many special times together with my grandkids. A sweet joy indeed.

    Happy New Year and Happy Grand Social and MEGA CONGRATS. :)

  9. The memories will be treasured for decades. Thank you for sharing these family traditions at Make It Monday.

  10. They are so lucky to be growing up as similarly-aged cousins and getting to spend so much time together! I always wished for that. I have one cousin who is a year older than me, but he lived across the country and I only saw him occasionally. Of the rest of my cousins, I have two who were 7 and 9 years older than me, two who were 7 and 9 years YOUNGER than me, and four who are over 20 years younger than me!

  11. Magical, and beautifully told, as always!

  12. Hi J, stopping by from Sunday's Best. I loved this post. The holidays are about the children, and you have conveyed that in this post. The matching pj are adorable. I'm a reader of The Night Before Christmas and cookie baker too, so I can relate to the traditions you have set. I love your passion and creativity, your table setting is beautiful. Please share a post on how you put it together.

  13. What a blessed, blessed holiday time you had with your lovely family. I can just hear the conversations and the giggles, and wish for you many, many, MANY more just like this one. Happy 2015.

  14. What a wonderful Christmas filled with fun and laughter. Beautiful memories made here I think.


  15. How cute. I loved your post. I enjoy everyone elses grandkids and yours are sooooo adorable.

  16. Awww... Elfie is adorable! What a darling post, my friend. Your words and photos were a treat to look at.

    May I just say that your family is beautiful and what a blessing to have them all together during the holidays.

    Thank you so much for sharing this at Roses of Inspiration - I hope you come back next week :) Hugs to you!

  17. I love all those darling kids in their lookalike PJs!! What a blast. Looks like so much family joy.

  18. Gosh, you are the kind of grandmother every one hopes to be! Love the apons. Perhaps if I start now I can finish two by next year. I do appreciate finding your link on my Thursday party, it is shared on my For what it's worth friend Pinterest Board

  19. Christmas at your house looks like so much fun! I want to come!