Yesterday, we stopped by a local firehouse to drop off a few toys that we'd picked up for the Toys For Tots campaign.
And after spending an hour there, I was reminded why firefighters are some of my favorite people on the planet.
Not only do they save lives and property and voluntarily put themselves in danger, they are kind and funny and they will patiently take the time to give impromptu tours of their station and trucks. And they will patiently answer any question a six-year-old can throw at them.
"When you slide down this pole, do you yell like Tarzan?"
When we returned home, Father and Daughter danced to The Nutcracker by firelight.
(He did more dancing than she did.)
(Notice her inspecting her nails while he pirouettes.)
Then, we decorated cookies for Santa.
Because we care, we tested them to be sure they were edible...
Then, we enjoyed homemade peppermint stick ice cream.
As we were cleaning the kitchen, the children - with no prompting from us - gathered around the tree and sang, Fah who foraze! Dah who doraze!
Welcome, Christmas! Fah who rahmus!
Welcome, Christmas! Dah who dahmus!
Christmas Day will always be!
Just as long as we have we!
We love the Grinch and have only watched it 1,012 times this year.
Continuing with our tradition of opening one gift on Christmas Eve, everyone opened a new pair of flannel pajamas.
Then, I tried to get them to sit still for a picture. Without using a flash.
That was easy!
Oh, but wait a minute ... aren't there FOUR?
Come here, little blur!
Good, except you're blocking someone...
Good, except you're still blocking...
Good, except ...
Everyone, look at the camera!
This is as good as it gets.
No. Really. Look at our cherubs. How did I ever get so lucky?
A quick check of NORAD made us realize Santa has made it almost the whole way around the world. He's getting CLOSER! Children, you better jump in bed and cover up your head, because SANTA CLAUS is coming tonight!
We placed cookies and milk for Santa, nine carrots for nine reindeer and completed a quick rearrangement of the Nativity.
We read, "Twas the Night Before Christmas."
And then we tucked excited children in to bed. Because Charlie and I had done no gift preparation before yesterday, we spent the next seven hours putting together toys, wrapping presents and clearing up the house. This is what it looked like before we went to sleep.
And this is what it looked like, 10 minutes later.
(Not really, but not too far off, either.)
We climbed in to bed and two hours later, we were joined by Henry.
Two hours after that, William was awake.
Two seconds after that, his sisters were awake. Infact, I think his screaming "THERE ARE GIFTS UNDER THE TREE! SANTA CAME!" woke up everyone in a one-square mile radius. I really wish this picture came out better because it is an adorable shot.
The excitement of a child on Christmas morning is positively unrivaled...
At one point, there were snow flurries that turned in to fat flakes falling from the sky and we were beside ourselves with excitement that it was SNOWING on CHRISTMAS. But then it suddenly stopped and melted, so we ate more chocolate and contemplated getting out of our pajamas. Which we finally did ... four hours later.
One of the children's favorite gifts was this little John Deere ride on toy. I've always wanted to buy the children one of these, but we never had the space in San Diego.
Charlie realized that if he removed a pin, the speed would increase from 3 MPH to 6 MPH. Or some similar equivalent that would result in the driver going from "slow" to "fast."
I think the children's expressions captures it perfectly, especially Carolyn who reminds me of my mother whenever she's in the passenger seat and I'm driving. Today she has the grimace and arm brace down, I bet in the next week, she'll be stomping her foot on the imaginary brake, just like her Noni.
This has been a wonderful, magical holiday. Of course, the thought did go through my mind that if I hadn't lost my pregnancy in May, today would have been my due date. And while it did make me sad for a moment, I was so overwhelmed with just how blessed and fortunate I am, the sadness didn't last for long. I was also so tired, whenever I'd stop to think, I'd fall asleep.
At one point I was laying down, testing out a Pillow Pet and Carolyn stopped playing her brand new harmonica just long enough to ask, "Mom, do you have visions of sugar plums dancing in your head?"
Yes, love. I sure do.
Merry Christmas, everyone!