The Christmas post is in three parts because we are blessed with so much family with whom to celebrate. Christmas Eve with Al's family, Christmas Day with our children, and a few days after Christmas with my family. This year we also celebrated with Dave, Becca, and Noelle a few days after Christmas because they wanted to begin establishing their own Christmas traditions in their home. Dave, Becca, and Noelle arrived at our home on December 28. December 29 was the day we had planned to travel to Massachusetts to celebrate with my dad, my sisters, and their families, but because of Al's heart attack, they traveled to Connecticut. Melissa and Eric were able to come too, and Gail came after my family left. She would have come earlier but she had car trouble. We had so much fun with Cindy, Sue, Betsy, and their families. Sue's son Corey is only eight years old and such a cutie. He and Noelle love each other and were so much fun to watch together! Sue brought her little Italian Greyhound, George, who is really funny! Noelle loved him too, and George was very patient with her! I made chili, and Sue brought sandwiches. Betsy brought cheese and crackers, and I had made pie and cranberry bread and cookies for dessert.
After dinner, we opened our gifts to and from my family. We decided to open our gifts to and from Dave, Becca, and Noelle after my family left, so as not to overwhelm anyone, especially Al and Noelle! Anyway, after the gifts were opened, we played "Apples to Apples" and "Catch Phrase." While we were playing, one of our friends came to help fix a slight leak in our baseboard heater in our bedroom. I think he was a little startled by all the noise and all the people, but we introduced him to my family and tried to make him feel welcome! My dad always enjoys having all his daughters and grandchildren together in one place, and he also enjoys being with his GREAT-granddaughter! Betsy and Steve and my dad had to leave early because one of their kids had to be somewhere, but Sue and her family stayed a little longer and were able to see Gail and her boyfriend when they came after getting a rental car. It was fun to play the games, and we've discovered that the games are great ice-breakers. Anyway, we opened gifts after that, and many of them were for Noelle! Auntie Gail got her a ball pit. When Noelle opened the ball pit, Becca said not to open the package of balls. Noelle said, "Peese?" to Becca, who said No. She then came to me, held out the package, and with a cute smile, said' "Peese?" again. I told her, "No, sweetie, your mommy already said no." Noelle then proceeded to hold the package of balls out to Auntie Missy(Mimi in Noelle- language), with her adorable grin, big blue eyes, and her "Peeese?" Guess what Auntie Mimi did? "If Mommy says No, ask Grandma. If Grandma says No, ask Auntie Mimi!" I got to cuddle her to sleep that night. That's my favorite part of being a mom and a grandma! Thursday night we had birthday cake and a gift for Dave, and they left Friday morning. Christmas time is always the hardest time to say goodbye, because it's usually a few months before we see them again, although Nonno got to see them during one of our big snowstorms in January! Besides the most precious gift of Jesus, God's Son, my favorite gift is always time with my family, especially with those who live far away. I pray that these gatherings will be used of God to bring our loved ones closer to Christ.