Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas Afternoon!

Confession: I'm one of those people that doesn't get tired of Christmas music. Yes, the same CD over and over again can and will get old, but the kind of Christmas music that's been playing on two of our local stations since Veterans' Day is right up my alley. Both stations are programmed into my "Faves" on the radio in the car, and when one of them airs a song I'm not so excited about, I merely flip to the other. Any chance I can, I have it on in the house - sometimes a preference over tv (which is saying a lot as I'm definitely a tv person). And, as often as I can, I fall asleep to it.

So, tomorrow, when they stop playing the music and go back to their "Yesterday's Hit and Today's Favorites" and instead of Anne Murray or The Carpenters we have Brittany Spears and Justin Beiber...I get sad. Honestly, that first drive in my car after Christmas is just such a let-down. But, then again, it's good to get back to K-LOVE and enjoy music that celebrates more than just the baby Jesus.

I wonder how long it would take for me to eventually get tired of it. So far, I have yet to find out...

I'm not sure what that really had to do with anything other than to point out just how much I love all of the little parts of this season/holiday. I really do believe I savored all of it - and did my best not to waste or wish away any of the days in preparation of it all. Likewise, I tried to be mindful throughout today to take it all in. And, as we are nearing 10pm, this day is just about wrapped up - and Christmas is practically over. (However, we do a pretty good job of "pretending" the calendar has stopped on the 25th while in Sunriver). In retrospect, I'd say it's been one of my favorite years ever. No major meltdowns (at least in comparison to year's past). No selfish tantrums from kids. No last-minute panics over lack of prep. If only John had been at 100%, I'd be able to give it the "Overall Favorite of All Time" title...

So, as I post pics and go through the little details, I want to emphasize again to any readers out there who find all of this tiring that "these little details" are the big things that I savor most in my memories. And, someday, when this blog becomes a 2010 Cozy Corner hardbound book, I'll be thankful I wrote as much as I did.~

We Rileys beat the Schillings out to Mom and Dad's by about an hour, which was perfect for John to use to get some more sleep - and gave Mom and I some fun chat time in the kitchen. Michele soon enough made us a trio, and then the banter began. At one point, I got really sarcastic and Mom might have actually "bought it". I had to tell her I was only pushing things so we could be like "normal families" and have fights on the holidays! =) (Don't get me wrong, on any given gathering, one of us is dealing with some sort of conflict with our hubbies, undoubtedly...which the three of us ending up offering lots of "me too's" to, but among us three ladies, there's just not a lot of conflict.)

Right around 1pm, we had everyone gathered around the table for dinner. This year, John forgot the tripod, so no master group shot. I did catch Nati giving me a goofy smile on this one.

It's always nutty how, at the end of our meal, there's hardly a dent made in all of the offerings, I think we'd easily have enough to sit back down and start all over again. But, that's not reflective on the food quality, this year it seemed like it all just came out deliciously perfect. And, I think this year's dinner table rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" was the best so far.

This was a little post-dining wrestling - not sure what even started it.

Aren't these just the cutest little elves you've ever seen (not to mention adorable pj's)...

After the moms conquer the after-meal dishes (no, we are honestly not bothered by it, we are a well-oiled machine in our clean up) - the kids do the disbursement of gifts. I know everyone does gift-giving differently, but in the Alexander home, there's quite the "plan" on how it's all done.

While the kids were doing their thing, there was some posing to be done among the adults:

John posed for this one, but it could have totally been legitimate.

Let's not forget about the dogs - they were underfoot everywhere we turned. Mackie has been obsessed with the arrival of Christmas since the first of December. For whatever reason, Dad's birthday set in motion Mackie's seasonal clock to recognize that soon special gifts would be coming. New squeaky toys, rawhides, and stuffed animals. Before anything was decorated at Mom and Dad's house, he would spend each evening pacing the couch getting on his hind legs to sniff the air and peer up at the shelves to see if the stockings were hung yet. If that special one with his name had been put up yet. Isn't that crazy? He also spent a great deal of time perusing the gift bags, trying to find his new squeaky toy. At one point, he did find it - at which point Dad confiscated it and put it high on a shelf to keep him from getting it again. The next night, Mackie came to Dad's chair with the empty bag he'd found in the spare bedroom that used to hold that toy....whimpering because his toy wasn't there. Needless to say, Mackie was abundantly excited today.

A few more shots of happy kids having opened special presents:

Okay, Michele isn't a kid, but she gets giddy like one when she gets Almond Roca...

I loved this smile on Mom-

Yes, that's the DVD set of the original "Bionic Woman". Ever since tv shows became available on DVD, Michele's been mentioning this series, thinking it would be fun to watch. Surprisingly, this one took forever to be put in a DVD set. It wasn't released until this September or so.... I wondered if she'd discovered yet, and potentially even gotten it for me. Nope - she didn't even know it had been released yet. Go ahead, call us nerds. You're just jealous - especially of the extra bonus crossover episodes involving "The Six Million Dollar Man". =)

Another little "tradition" (if you can call it that) is that John and Michael do their best to wreck our plan by hiding one of their presents so they could be guaranteed to have a "final gift" when everyone else had finished. Little turkeys. So, this year, Mom turned the tables and sent the boys on a scavenger hunt all over the house - with super fun little rhyming clues - to find their presents. They went from a card hidden in the tree, to under the pillow in the massage room, to out on the back patio in the bbq, to (finally) in a specific book in the bookshelf - which told them to go back where they started. (Mom had then put their gifts back in their seats). So fun!

We were all convinced that the guys had again messed with the number of presents based on their consistency in the past and sheepish expressions. This time, though, they actually did NOT, but had us all convinced that they did. Hard to admit, but I guess I'll award another win for the guys in fooling us...

This was the present Ellie wanted most -

The Rileys also had a little mischief up our sleeves too - as we kept two presents in our vehicle for Mom and Dad and the Schillings. Over the past several months, John and I have been putting together a Blurb book of: ORLANDO 2010. While I did the commentary from a first person perspective, I tried to cover most of the key memories - and encapsulate images from everyone's cameras, cell phones, and blackberries. John and I got the finished project delivered to our house just a couple of weeks ago and were giddy with enthusiasm over how it all turned out. Quite honestly, I was more excited about the moment when each of the family's received this than I was over any of the gifts to the kids or items I might receive.

Mom later admitted she was "hoping" for something like this - which might explain the sweet smiles...

Post present opening brought about some PS3 Motion Play (an upgrade the Schillings got for Christmas) and plenty of sorting as to what would make the cut to go with us to Sunriver in the morning vs. what would stay home. And, of course, a little "Grandpa" help in putting together presents:
Everything felt a lot less overwhelming this year - I guess I just keep repeating the same sort of that it all fell into place in much of the ways I had hoped for. Here's hoping that extra week of celebrating on vacation is just as ideal.

Now, off to bed, there's some serious packing of vehicles to be done in the morning, and a cranky tired Mom won't quite be able to get us all to that "ideal" I was hoping for.

Once again, Merry Christmas everyone!

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