At about 11am on Christmas morning Jeff and I both turned to each other and declared this Shumway Christmas “the Last Christmas.” Of course we were (mostly) joking, but we were exhausted and the kids were strung out and there was just so much stuff everywhere. But now looking over these photos a few month later I’m determined to give Christmas another shot next year. There really is magic in all that mayhem. (I am working on a plan though to cut down a bit, make things more simple and stream lined, manage a little better the stuff that buries us at Christmas).
Really, all in all, we had a great Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Here are some of the highlights:
Eli and Julie and their two little ones came to visit us from NYC. We LOVE having them in our cozy house during the holidays. It just feels right to have family all packed in. And they are the most easy going guests you could ask for. Christmas Eve day was incredibly warm so we dragged the kids to our favorite spot in the Fells. Of course, as soon as we got there they were in heaven. We met Julie’s brother and his family there and introduced them to our secret Christmas tree forest that we love to visit. The fresh winter air and the beauty of those christmassy looking woods made us all feel alive (except for Charlie here in this photo….he was in the middle of an epic argument with Hazel).
We had a really tasty Christmas Eve dinner, splurged and ate Beef tenderloin and not one person stuck their noses up at the meal. That , right there, made the price of that beef worth it. We had our dear neighbor Joyce join us. She is always such a pleasure to have around. She’s really a third grandmother to our kids. After dinner was my very favorite part of the Christmas season. The kids all give to each other on Christmas eve so that their gift giving efforts don’t get swallowed up in the excitement of Christmas morning. My parents did this growing up and made it a point to really focus on the giver as they gave out their hard earned or made gifts. It always made me feel like a million bucks to be praised to no end for the thoughtful (or maybe not so thoughtful) gifts I was giving. I think my kids feel the same way. The big kids worked hard for months before Christmas to save up money to buy their gifts. Peter worked up enough money to buy some pretty stellar things at the dollar store. I LOVE the expressions captured in these photos. They were all engaged with their whole little beings, watching and giving and receiving with such intensity and joy. Jeff got some pink rollers and Twinkies from Hazel. Love her sense of humor. I think Hazel takes the cake for great expressions and such gracious giving and receiving. She’s always been such a generous soul. Peter is just spilling with delight. And look at Em’s proud face as she gave that winning light saber. Raw and genuine Joy right there. After presents we re-enact the nativity (no pictures of that one), read the Grinch, leave out cookies and scamper into bed. I love the excitement that fills the house on Christmas Eve. It’s nearly enough energy to propel me through the hours that come.
As exhausting as it is, I really love the work of Christmas Eve. I love seeing how all the work I’ve done to collect things over the Christmas season comes together.I had to snap a quick picture of this neat and organized scene before the Christmas morning tornado hit. The morning started early, but not as early as it did back in 2012. We still all have PTSD from that Christmas morning! I loved hearing my kids squeals of delight as they went through their stockings waiting for us to wake up. Here the kids are waiting to storm down the stairs and into the room. We try to limit Santa gifts to one sort of big thing and a book and a few small little items. Hazel got lots of little things this year since she could not for the life of her figure out what to ask for. A used Kindle (instead of a book), a knock off apple watch (1/16th of the price), some glasses and some useful items to help her pull off the nerdy look she’s always going for. Em, on the other hand, knew exactly what to ask for. Roller Skates. This never would have crossed my mind, but it was EXACTLY what her little soul needed. It’s February now and she still wears them pretty much non-stop. And Charlie’s RC car obsession continues. This is a kit hobby car that he is still working on nearly daily to put together. I sort of love this hobby because there is a never ending list of items that he wants to buy to improve or fix his cars. This makes him pretty dang motivated to do lots of money jobs and chores around the house. And Peter asked for a piano book and a bat man suit case. Go figure. A very practical boy. He was thrilled that Santa even put a few little batman toys inside the suitcase. I didn’t take too many photos, just tried to soak in the magic (and breath through the chaos) of it all. But here is one of Peter, ecstatic about his suit case and Em sporting her new roller skate look(watch from Grammy and Grandfather).
We spent most of the day unwrapping presents. Julie’s brother and wife came over for brunch and we went for a walk in the cemetery before coming back for another round of gifts.
We felt so grateful for the abundance of gifts showered on all of us by so many who love us. As conflicted as I feel about Christmas gifts, they’re a great tool to help our children know how to give and receive. And a great reminder of God’s greatest gift to us.