Monday, April 26, 2010

Christmas in Montana

For the first time ever, our kids got to spend an idyllic Christmas in Montana with all their family and extended family. It was a fantastic time for all of us and I think it will be the Christmas that lives on in their memories forever.

On December 23, we spent the day celebrating an early Christmas Eve with Jeremy's family. It was a wonderful time. I didn't take any pictures. :-( Hopefully I can fill out this part of the post later with help from Grandma Janet.

On Christmas Eve, we got all dressed up.

Then we headed to Great-Grandma Jen's to celebrate with my huge extended family, just like we did every year as I was growing up.

This year was particularly special because all of my Grandma's great-grandchildren were there.

Four Generations: my Grandma Jen, my dad, me, and my kids

After dinner, all 40+ people gathered in Grandma's living room for a reading of the Christmas story and a time of caroling. It was such a special treat for me to be surrounded by so many family members and share in the familiar traditions of my childhood.

One of those traditions is the annual "appearance" by Santa and his reindeer on my Grandma's roof. No one actually SEES him, but as kids I'm pretty sure we all thought we just MIGHT have caught a glimpse of his sleigh heading out of sight. Every year, while we are singing "Jingle Bells," we hear stamping reindeer feet on the roof and a great ringing of sleigh bells. All the children race outside to see if anyone can spy Santa this time around. Each one finds a present waiting on the ground and brings it inside to kick off the opening of gifts.

Imagine the shock my kids felt, since they really don't believe in Santa. :-)

Does anybody see him?

Wow! A real, live, present from Santa Claus!

After the mass-opening of Santa presents, the kids all participate in a gift-exchange with their cousins and we all enjoy chatting and hanging out together.

As we left for the night, my brother's dog, Crockett, hopped in the van and plopped right down between the boys. They were thrilled.

We spent Christmas morning with both sets of grandparents at my folks' house. Taylor read the Christmas story.

Ascha had her first real experience with a stocking. She was pretty pleased to get an orange in the bottom of the stocking Grandma Janet and Grandpa Lyn brought her.

The hard part of our trip was when we had to send Jeremy back to Washington on Christmas Day. Although his trip was abbreviated, he had a wonderful time with family and friends, and even managed to fit some skiing in at Lost Trail.

On Christmas evening, we had my mom's side of the family over for another grand celebration. We played games and ate and chatted, and, of course, had more presents for these spoiled kids.

Taylor and Aric were the designated "present passer-outers" and spent much of the evening standing in the middle of the present pile.

Before we left for home, Taylor got a chance to try out the new whitefishing pole my parents had given him. My dad took both boys down to the river (Isn't it beautiful? I love MT!) where I grew up swimming and playing and fishing (or playing with the fish other people had caught...I've never had much patience when it comes to waiting for a bite).

Aric caught a fish fairly early-on, and I was hopeful Taylor wouldn't be far behind.

A few HOURS later, my dad told Taylor that he had 3 more casts until we absolutely had to go home, because it was nearing dusk and we were all cold and tired. On that third cast, Taylor caught his fish!

We had an amazing time enjoying our families and celebrating Jesus's birthday this year. We are so thankful we had the opportunity to share some of our favorite childhood memories with our children while they are still young enough to really enjoy them.