Christmas 2009

To be honest, I’m a bit at a loss for how to describe Christmas this year. Spending time with family at Christmas is always fun, always memorable (especially with my family, hahaha), always special. This year was all of these things but on a completely different level. Forgive me if this gets lengthy or tedious…I just want to make sure I document everything so that I can come back years from now and accurately remember.
On Christmas Eve we spent the entire day with the Murphy family. Mike, Mikayla and myself went to Grandpa and Grandmama’s house early in the morning and thoroughly enjoyed the several hours we spent with them just relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. On into the afternoon extended family and friends joined the party. It was so great to take a short break from the day to day routine to sit back and talk and fellowship and watch Mikayla (she was most definitely the center of attention). David read the Christmas story…
…while Allen paid special attention. šŸ™‚
When Mikayla was handed her first present she literally plowed through the paper.
Once she discovered the first toy, however, she didn’t care much for the boxes and bags that held additional toys. When she (or actually I) opened a box that contained a new shirt for her, she grabbed the shirt, put it on the top of her head and refused to let go or do anything else until I put it on her. Typical girl – wanting to wear new clothes right away!
We really had a fantastic day and enjoyed it immensely. It was after 10 before we knew the day was over. So, we went home and tried (in vain) to sleep so we could do it all over again on Christmas day.
Friday we got up early (way too early for the amount of sleep we had) and travelled to Athens to spend Christmas with the Godfrey family. We spent the morning and early part of the afternoon with just my parents and the two siblings still living at home. Again, a great time of just relaxing and enjoying the time spent together. Being over an hour away, my parents don’t get to see Mikayla as often as they’d like so they always enjoy watching her play or run or make noise or do whatever her little heart desires (including playing with things she shouldn’t be playing with, like Christmas ornaments). šŸ™‚
Mid-afternoon my brother, Brandon, and his family arrived. Without going into too much detail I’ll just say that it’s been a REALLY long time since by brother seemed this eager to be involved with family things…probably since early high school. He is seriously dating a girl, Chaina, that none of us had yet met and she and her 3 boys came over with him. We really weren’t sure what to expect. It was hard to imagine him with three boys to look after. We didn’t know what to think about “the new girl”…would we like her, would she like us, would she be scary or weird…just being honest, we didn’t know what to expect. The moment they walked through the door we all fell in love with her and all 3 boys.
The boys were as sweet as can be and it was very evident that my brother truly cares about them. We’ve known for a while that he was ready to settle down and start a family – I guess we just weren’t prepared for him to take the fast track. But after meeting them and seeing them together it was very apparent that they are a great “match” for him. I don’t know what their future plans are. He said they had talked about getting married but I don’t know how definite that is. I do know that if they do decide to get married, we will all be 100% supportive.
The youngest of the three boys, Teagan, was clearly unsure about Mikayla. I’m not sure he knew what to think about a girl. When he first met her he just kept rubbing her head. It was very sweet and funny.
My brother hasn’t always made the best choices and those choices really affected his behavior and personality and the relationship we were able to have with him. This Christmas he was happy. It was like the “real” him was back. He seemed so at ease and settled. He laughed and smiled (a lot), he wanted to be there, he wanted to talk to us and spend that time with the family. I haven’t seen him this “himself” since we were kids. I know part of this change is that he’s making some better choices but I also think it has a lot to do with his new “family” and that alone is reason enough to love them and welcome them to our family! It was a very sweet time for all of us and I left feeling very blessed for the time we were able to spend together.
We planned the whole day differently than we ever had…usually, the WHOLE family comes over for a big, traditional Christmas lunch (turkey, dressing, potatoes, etc.). This year my parents really wanted to spend some time with Brandon and his family before things got too crazy so instead of lunch we planned a dinner with the WHOLE family. My mom recently had shoulder surgery and didn’t really feel up to cooking a huge meal complete with a huge turkey so we tried something a little un-traditional…breakfast for dinner! I have always loved breakfast for dinner, as do most people. So in planning for this big breakfast we were all very excited about eating the food. It wasn’t until we actually started the cooking that we realized just how great it was. For one, we crammed four or five of us in the kitchen all taking on different tasks so we could share the work – I did pancakes, Chaina did bacon/sausage, Aunt Nette did fruit, Mom did gravy, etc. The great thing about this is that it gave us a good hour to talk and chat and get to know Chaina without the interruption of men and children (mostly). šŸ™‚ Then as we watched the excitement on everyone’s face as they piled their plates again and again with delicious goodness, we all began to realize that this was a family tradition in the making. It was easy, cheap, fun and YUMMY!
After dinner, we were able to exchange some gifts – which, as always, ended in a wrapping paper fight. The chaos and excitement of having 19 or so people all in one room was hard to capture in a picture but it was fantastic.
We all very much enjoyed relaxing and yelling (too loud to just talk) together while wads of paper flew around the room and children and teenagers ran among us shooting nerf guns at anything (or anyone) that got in their way. Poor Mikayla being the youngest and the only girl will have to learn fast to keep up or at least to protect herself. Here are a couple other fun pictures…The proud great-grandparents:
All the men (except Jamin who had already left to go to his girlfriend’s house). We were so joking when we asked them to pose for this, we KNEW there was NO WAY they’d agree to it. And, yet, somehow, here it is…
There are one or two pictures that I didn’t include in this rather lengthy blog. Click here if you want to see the whole album.
I’m left with a full heart. It was wonderful two days of true fellowship with our families. Distance and other obligations keep us from being able to do that as often as we’d like. The new growth our family experienced made this time even sweeter. I think this was by far my favorite gift this Christmas and I’m so thankful to my heavenly Father for making it so.

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