After our big family party on Saturday night, we welcomed a slow and quiet Christmas holiday. Or as slow and quiet as things can be around these parts. We got all gussied up and went to Christmas Eve Mass as a family. The candles, the frankincense incense, the children's choir singing "Silent Night": it was all so beautiful and uplifting. We got to church almost an hour early just so that we could sit and pray and listen to the choir. It was important to Shawn and I to spend time in prayer, opening our hearts and allowing the spirit of the season to fill our souls.
My brother and his family drove in from Texas on Wednesday and we were so excited to have a Christmas sleepover! The kids were so excited to all be together, we've missed them dearly since their big move to Texas. First on our Christmas Eve agenda: cookie baking and decorating!
Brees was SUPER annoyed when we asked her to smile for the camera. "I have baking to do! No time for pictures!".
The kids set aside their best cookies for Santa to eat. We also made reindeer food with healthy ingredients safe enough for the many pets and wild animals that roam around our yard at night to eat: rolled oats, granola, raisins, brown sugar, cinnamon, and carrots. The kids sprinkled their reindeer food in front of our house and were thrilled in the morning when they found animal footprints in the rocks by the front porch!! Reindeer prints, of course.
My brother played our favorite Christmas carols on his guitar while the kids sang along. This was definitely River's favorite part of the night.
We opened a few gifts in front of the fire, the kids trading in their church clothes for Christmas jammies. Belle and Brees exchanged the gifts they bought for each other: gifts they picked out and wrapped by themselves and paid for with their own money. Belle said "Sissy, you know me so well! This was exactly what I wanted!".
For supper, we had my mom's yummy chicken and sausage gumbo: a long standing Christmas Eve tradition.
With their bellies full of gumbo and Santa's cookies set out on the fireplace with a couple of hand written notes and a glass of milk, the kids settled down in the living room to read the story of Christ's birth. We said our bedtime prayers and thanked God for bringing us together on such a special night. Belle, Brees, Daxx, and Trey all camped out in Belle's room with River next door in his crib. Just as we tucked them in and kissed them goodnight, Santa called my phone to let us know that he was in his sleigh and heading to Louisiana soon! I've never seen them so excited! They couldn't believe that Santa was calling them and that he was really on his way! It was time for these sweet little cousins to get some rest and time for the mamas and daddies and my mama to get to work setting out all the magic. And share a few cookies and kisses under the mistletoe, of course.
I woke up first, as usual, to get the coffee going, the monkey bread baking, the Christmas dinner started. I heard little feet upstairs begin to stir and gathered all of the grownups to watch them come down the stairs. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read: keeping it simple and real. They took their time opening their gifts, hugging us between each one and yelling out "Thank you, Santa!!!".
The rest of the day was spent in our jammies, feasting on roast with all of the trimmings, playing with new toys, napping in front of the fire, watching movies, and enjoying each other. The greatest gift, to me, was being all together. To be a wife and mom, a daughter, sister, and aunt to these people: it is everything. I am so thankful for this family I get to call my own.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!