Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Tradition 6: Christmas Morning

Ever since I was little, my parents have made Christmas morning a BIG deal.  We always had to wait upstairs with my grandparents until my dad had his coffee made, Bing Crosby Christmas music was playing, and the video camera was charged (which could sometimes take a while!).  When they were finally ready, we would line up at the top of the stairs from youngest to oldest and then run down once we finally got the o.k.  Then, unlike normal children who would tear into every present with our names on it, we would sit and wait until we were each handed a gift.  It was almost as if we had this fear that if we were the first to open a present, then we would get done before everyone else.  I guess it is in some ways how we each want to be the person to put the very last puzzle piece in.

Christmas with my grandma when I was about 6.
While we may be older now, some things never change.  The boys now wake up on their own sweet time (11 a.m. this year).  In fact I got so tired of waiting for them to wake up, and as tradition goes I wasn't allowed to wake them up either, I had to take Amber for a long walk to kill time.  I finally got the idea to text J.J.'s girlfriend and told her to wake him up, because technically that is not me waking him up.  We all lined up at the top of the stairs, and while there were more sarcastic comments made about the time it took my dad to get the cameras ready, we still made the run down the stairs.  My mom is amazing and spends countless hours finding just the right gifts for everyone, so we were not disappointed by the sea of gifts under the tree.  And as usual, we all assumed our regular spots on the couch and waited for that first present.

Waiting for Brian to get ready.  He was moving a little slower because he had a 103 degree temperature.  It wouldn't be Christmas without someone being sick.
The whole clan getting ready to see the tree.
Once we all opened our first gift, there was no longer a standoff to see who would be the first to tear in.  Now I have a few shots from the morning.  Christmas pictures never quite turn out, but hopefully some of these will entertain you.
Love J.J.'s face in this.
Recognize the pictures in the frame?  I made my dad a memory frame of when we went skating.
Mom showing off my presents to her.
Comical look at how my dad likes to get my mom practical presents, but don't worry he got her some sweet ones too....
 It wouldn't be Christmas without my dad's constant commentary on every gift that is opened.  He can be quite opinionated, but at the end of it all he keeps us laughing.  I think he was making a joke about the smell of the candle here, but considering he picked it out, I know for a fact he likes the smell.
 Now my mom did not want my dad getting the boys these Russian hats; not because she didn't think they'd like them, but because they already have some.  It was priceless seeing her "I told you so" face when the boys opened their hats somewhat confused, but my dad figured that they like the hats they already have, so might as well give them another.  And to his credit, the boys never took those hats off all day.  Note the cute reindeer pillows in the back; my mom made those from placemats!
Dave and his flannel.  My mom wanted him to wear it as a nice, tucked in shirt but he decided it was better "Dave style" and just buttoned it, untucked over his sweatshirt.
Classic:  J.J. opens a present that says, "Pick one."  Inside are two pair of khaki pants.  My mom goes, "I didn't know if you liked the pants that you picked out, so I bought another pair just in case."  J.J. responds with, "No, I am pretty sure I liked the pants I picked."  My mom is so sweet though and just wanted to make sure he had the best, but their dialogue made us all laugh pretty hard!
Even Amber got into the unwrapping.
Everyone has to smell good.  Note poor Brian in the back; he was feeling pretty bad at this point, but was trying to look somewhat healthy, so he could convince my parents he was healthy enough to go to Sun Valley, Idaho with his girlfriend's family the next day.
Mom found us the coolest knives meant just for cutting tomatoes!
If you haven't seen the gloves that work with your iPhone, you have to check them out!  Brian was so smart in getting me these, because they are perfect for running or walking to school.

Just like we have traditions for running down the stairs, we have a Christmas breakfast tradition.  The night before my mom prepares egg strata and monkey bread rolls.  Right when we start opening gifts, she slips it into the oven and they are good to eat by the time we are done unwrapping.  This year she didn't lift the oven rack up quite high enough and the strata was a little larger than expected!
Dad brushing his teeth and mom making breakfast.
Just a little big!
Mom got grease on her shirt, but thanks to Pinterest,
she knew that cornstarch took it out, and she saved her shirt!
After breakfast we open up our stockings and spent the rest of the afternoon trying out our new things and remembering the true reason for Christmas, Jesus' birth.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tradition 5: Cookies and Sleigh Rides

Well, if you haven't gotten the picture by now, you probably never will; I like to cook!  So, of course, a Christmas tradition will involve baking cookies.  This year we decided to have our neighbors, the Saads, join us for a night of sleigh rides, cookies, and charades.  You are probably wondering how we do sleigh rides in California.  Well, we all cram into the van and drive around and look at Christmas lights on people's houses.  There is one neighborhood in San Ramon that always has tons of decorated houses, so of course we saw that.  Then we went to this new house in Danville that has all their lights timed to Christmas songs.  It plays 5 different songs and there is a different light show for each song, take a look!
We headed back to the house for some hors d'oeuvres which mom threw together at the last minute when she found out the day of the party that we were having people over!
 The "AHH, people are coming look!" but she pulled it together and made some great snacks.
Now it was time for the long awaited cooking decorating!  My dad decided to make a contest for:  Most Creative, Most Christmasy, Most Unusual, Looks Best to Eat, and Looks Worst to Eat.  This meant the stakes were pretty high!

 Philip wearing his signature Santa suit, but with his long hair, he looks more like a Joseph or Jesus!
Even the moms got into it!

Amber hoping to get some scraps.
Everyone got one vote per category.
The Winners! 
Katrina: most unusual ~ Griffin: worst to eat ~ Mom: best to eat ~ Kevin: most creative & most Christmasy
The hors d'oeuvres were such a hit, especially Brian's guacamole, so we had to make more before playing charades.
It was originally Mandy's recipe, so she made sure Brian got it right.
Next up was charades!  Everyone wrote topics on pieces of paper and we took turns acting them out.  People were surprisingly good at guessing, but for those we couldn't guess, we all ended up in tears laughing from their failed attempt to act.
Since I got a little bored with charades, I took some solo shots:)
We all can agree that we had a great night and will do it again next year!

 Oh and just in case you wanted to see a pic of me blogging...well, Merry Christmas here you go!