Christmas was very memorable this year. Every Christmas our family (me, Lori and the kids) get together with my parents, my Grandma McKee, and my brother’s family. We spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together. These days are usually filled with just a few activities, mostly meals (Christmas Eve at my parents, Christmas Day at our house- only half a mile from theirs). This year we decided to each choose an activity to do on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. My brother’s family couldn’t connect until later, so it was just our family and my parents that chose activities (Grandma just wanted to watch).
Each person was to choose one simple activity. No rules… nothing extravagant… here’s what everyone chose to do:
My Dad: He wanted us all to watch the movie The Nativity together. After attending a Christmas Eve service where he preached, we all went home for dinner and then watched the movie. It was a great glimpse of the perspective of Mary and Joseph through this pivotal yet humble historic event.
My Mom: She wanted to go on a family walk. Our little town is uniquely funny. It’s a little “redneck” burb about 15 miles East of Sacramento. On many a street you’ll find a little house that looks like a shack with chickens walking around the yard. On the same street you’ll find a million dollar home (ours is neither- I might add). On one of the streets we walked up we passed several of these “shacks” and then walked through a new neighborhood being built including a home for 1.9 million. Not too shabby. My dog Jethro was enjoying running all over their property (2.4 acres is a large property in my world).
Me: I wanted to do some sort of service project or feeding the homeless. So we came up with our own solution. Everyone donated toward McDonald’s gift certificates (because we didn’t want to give away cash). We purchased a pile of $5 gift certificates and went to the downtown to give them away. We walked up the K-street Mall (an open air mall downtown that is usually populated with quite a few homeless people) and gave a way a bunch of them. Then we hit a nearby park by the capital and gave away some more. One guy offered us a sip of his “40” to “warm up.” It was a fun experience.
Lori: She purchased two gingerbread houses and we had a contest, guys against girls- who could design the best house. Both teams grew quickly frustrated with the frosting- not a great adhesive. But we both constructed cute homes that were judged by my Grandma as an even “tie.” In all honesty, the girl’s house was better, but our yard kicked butt!
Alec: Being the artist that he is, he wanted to do a Santa Drawing contest. My dad had two easels from his training workshops, so we set them up side by side and drew two at a time. Ashley and Alyssa battled. Lori and Grandma McKee battled. My mom and dad battled and finally, Alec and I battled. Alec and I each took too long (I know this because everyone was yelling, “Hurry up! That’s enough!!!”) And despite the time spent, I think little Alyssa beat us all.
Alyssa: She wanted to do a white elephant gift exchange. We all drew numbers and then began opening $5 presents we had each purchased for the activity. Alec had the last number, therefore receiving the pick of the litter. It was a fun game and almost everyone ended up with what they wanted. My dad and mom ended up giving their prizes into the kids stockings later on in the night.
Ashley: Ashley also wanted to do a white elephant gift exchange, but when she lost out on that to Alyssa, she chose for us all to do a puzzle. We did a 500 piece puzzle with a bunch of breeds of dogs. It was really fun, but it was one of the last activities of the evenings so we were pretty tired during the last few paws and tails.
That’s it. What a great time of celebrating God’s greatest gift to us, celebrating giving, and celebrating family.