Sunday, December 28, 2008

Share in our Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I'm sorry this post was so long in coming. In doing so, it acquired quite a bit to say, so sit back and prepare to catch up on the details of our small homestead Christmas. (A blanket apology for any complaining your computer might give you over this picture intensive post!) I was considering breaking into several posts for the Baptism, cute Donna pictures, our Kris Kringle exchange and Christmas, etc., but I reasoned, what's the point? It's just a pause in the reading. So, if you need an intermission, go ahead and take one. I will assume no responsibility for weak eyes due to too much computer reading.

I have to start with a couple pictures from Donna's baptism (which I intended to share before Christmas but I wasn't able to get away and upload them).

I was the proudest Godmother and big sister ever on Tue. morning! Donna was just a doll through the whole Mass and baptism--never made a peep! Mom said her babies have never been that content through a baptism before. I was beaming with pride over her angelic little face, taking in the church with such curious dark eyes... It was one of the happiest days of my life!!

The next day we got our tree. Dad tramped through the deep snow armed with a saw and a prayer. We don't have many pine on our land at all, and certainly don't want to take the few healthy ones that we do have, but every year the Bl. Mother provides a tree for us on Christmas Eve. This year, it was 6in. from another tree the same size so one of them had to go. Most of the kids braved the deep snow, (hopping in Dad's footprints I'm sure), to participate in the tree falling.

Of course, to the kids it was our best tree ever (taking the place of last year's 'best tree ever'), though it was certainly nothing you'd find in the tree lot. It is a 15ft., 9in. Charlie Brown tree! What it lacks in density, it makes up for in height. Andrew had to cut some off each end to fit it in the house. Obviously, the kids begged him to take as little as possible, so to make them happy, it's just touching the ceiling at the tip. No room for a star, but it's beautiful anyway!

As they were leaving the house to get the tree, Stephen caught Buddy (our little bull cow) outside his pen, giving the chickens a bed time story. Sadly, it was rudely interrupted at the climax when Buddy was caught and shoved back where he belonged.

The kids and Annie baked cookies all that day. Annie also got industrious and attempted a natural ginger bread house after our encouragement and pleadings. I thought it turned out really cute for her first!

Christmas Eve was spent finishing up and wrapping gifts. Throughout the day, present by present slowly trickled in, filling the cavity below our giant, if sparse, tree. Everyone worked quickly, knowing that our evening party would only be possible when the house was clean, farm chores were done, and cooking prep for the next day complete. Of course, by the time all this was done it was late evening and since Johnny couldn't contain himself a moment longer, we sat down and turned off the lights (with the exception of the tree) and Dad read the Christmas story. We said some prayers and sang some songs, as Johnny placed our little porcelain baby Jesus in the manger creche. Afterwards, the lights were flicked on and the treats pulled out as the Kris Kringle exchange started.

We always start with Johnny. He had Michael, so he collected his gift and bashfully handed it to him.

He's not so good at keeping a secret, so there was suspicion that he had Michael. He gave him a shirt that he painted all over. I'm proud to say he did most of this by himself. I drew whatever he wanted to say on a piece of paper next to him, and he copied it on to the shirt with fabric paint and permanent markers.

Then Michael went next. He had Annie, and while I don't have a picture of her opening her little gift, here's one of her that week, googooing wittle Donna.

Michael made her a binder for all her cookie recipes, with organized tabs and cute sayings on the cover. He completed this mostly on his own, too, just helped by my ideas.

Then Annie got up and retrieved her present, handing it to Andrew.

...And she made him dig around in that box for a tiny envelope that contained a hand stitched scapular of his patron Saint.
Andrew got up next, and placed a heavy package on Theresa's lap.
The wrappings uncovered a small wooden chest, but to Theresa's delight (and our surprise), four different hand-turned YoYo's filled the chest. Dad and Andrew have just started playing on their new lathe, so no one was expecting such a nice finished product already!

Theresa was our YoYo master for awhile, so she was thrilled with the different styles of the YoYo's as well.

And we have to add this one of them goofing off together while playing with the new YoYos!
Andrew's not bad on the YoYo either, and admitted to spending lots of time playing on them out in the shop.

Then Theresa dragged the huge package that had been puzzling the kids all afternoon out from beneath the tree. Because it was so large, she had to point out it's recipient instead of handing it to her... Lizzy!

As the wrappings were lifted off, a squeal went up from Lizzy as she took in a new castle doll house complete with royal furniture and her favorite little people dressed in princess gowns with their hair done up in ribbons.
Because I had heavily helped Theresa pull this one off, I was especially excited to see the finished product all together--complete with the look on Lizzy's face! Dad asked her to turn around and take a picture, but by the time the camera was ready, the smile was looking a little forced....
There's a natural one!!

Anyway, moving along: Then Lizzy produced a long mysterious package to Johnny which turned into a little shuffle board game!

This gift was kind of taken over by Dad and Andrew, obviously, as Lizzy couldn't do much in the shop. She added some coloring pictures that she drew for him, to make up for that fact.
He's been playing with it almost unceasingly since he opened it!

By process of elimination, Stephen and I looked up and grinned at each other, knowing now that our two packages under the tree were going to each other. I handed mine out first.

It was a black T-shirt with a phrase painted on it that Stephen is notorious for.... It's kind of an inside joke, but it also works on a number of levels.

Then he invited me to open the last gift. I was sooo happy with what I pulled out of his box! Two beautiful, rustic, hanging, plant holders!!

I'm already dreaming about what I am going to grow in them. His gift showed that he noticed and appreciated my love of flowers and I thought that was really considerate. Thanks Steve, I simply love them.

Dad also placed a few surprise (purchased) games under the tree. I wish I could have captured the craziness that the eight of us experienced playing Pit around the table Christmas Eve night after our gift exchange. It's one of those 'no taking turns' games that we always love. The only reprise that one's vocal cords got would be if you had to quickly duck under the table to recover a card that was slid across the table at you by an opponent. Otherwise, it was shouting out your numbers, laughing and trying to keep your large hand in order.

It was a very fun, happy experience. When Dad was reading the Christmas story, I kept looking around at all the faces in thanksgiving that I was part of our happy bunch.

Now I have to post a few of the numerous pictures of my sweet, adorable, precious, perfect, lovely, angelic, doll face, wonderful, awesome, incredible, and that word that I can't think of, little sister (sorry, I seriously can't narrow it down to one word! She's indescribably wonderful!!!)

She's such a good baby too! Good nurser, good sleeper, quiet and content, everything Mummy could want!

Finally, I'd like to conclude with the most adorable picture of our twelve day old angel taking in her first Christmas tree sighting.
(That almost looks like a smile, doesn't it?)

Well, that was our simple little Christmas celebration. Thanks for sharing in it!

Signing off with our family Christmas picture this year:

God Bless ya all!


  1. Absolutely beautiful. All those presents are really neat...and what's better is that you all made them yourselves.

    Donna is SO sweet. It makes me wish for another little sibling. Hmmm...Babies are fabulous. Glad to here she is such a good girl. Love you, Donna!

    Your family Christmas picture is awesome.

  2. Radiates from your photos! Fantastic..

    Hey-- where do you buy that live baby- the natural one- it looks like the best gift of all. RS Ontario Canada

  3. You guys seemed like you had a wonderful Christmas! I loved all the gifts. You have a lot of siblings! I have 7, three bro's and four sis's, though some have moved out now. I've had people tell me they wouldn't want any more then a few, but I love having so many!

  4. What a wonderful visit with a loving family. The peace, love and joy in your home is evident in your well written blog.

    A blessed new year to each of you. Thanks for sharing!

    Mrs. M.

  5. Wow! ( I always start my post with that :) That sounds so beautiful Mary! That is such a neat idea....Kris Kringles. Your guy's gifts are just incredible, you are so talented at making stuff, it is amazing. And Little Donna Marie is sooooooo, well you know,

    and your tree is very amazing. and I am just smiling still. Wow, ok better stop before I rant anymore. Just wonderful thats all. :)

  6. those are really cool presents!!!!!!! i really liked your yo yo 's theresa, I got one to!!!!!! i really wanted to come today with gina and becca : (

  7. Thank you... Thank you... Thank you!!!

    You made our Christmas. It was just like being there with you. What a GREAT family! It makes us proud to be called your Grandma and Grampa. Happy New Year from AZ. We love you all!

  8. Thank you so much for sharing. I enjoy seeing the pictures of baby Donna.

    Wow, that is a big tree! We used to have tall trees when we lived in CA (we had a really tall ceiling). Of course we do not have an evergreen issue here, we have to many.

    I like looking at the gifts you all gave each other, we usually do home made gifts (mom and dad are usually the only ones who do store bought ones) but this year we did store bought gifts. It feels strange buying gifts, since we haven't done it in so long. I never know what to buy someone, it is so much easier to figure out when you make it.

    Well, hopefully I will talk to you later today.



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