Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Our 2014 Christmas Season Part 3

After not getting to bed until 2 AM Christmas morning I was looking forward to sleeping a little later than usual. That didn't happen as I found myself wide awake at 7:45. I let my wife sleep a little longer. 

Since we are "empty nesters" Christmas morning around our house is extremely quiet. There is no anxious child or young adult waking up excited to get their presents. There is no gifts exchanged until the kids and Theresa get there later in the day. 

Paula and I do exchange gifts but we wait until the family arrives to open them with the rest of our presents. 

Theresa arrived about 10:30. She brought most of the food for our Christmas buffet. Paula fixed some Queso dip and baked a applewood bacon coated pork tenderloin. 

In addition to ham and cheese for sandwiches there was plenty of cookies, candy and other assorted holiday treats. 

I had to retreat to our bedroom behind closed doors to wrap Paula's presents. I did manage to get some that would surprise her; but hadn't wrapped them yet. 

While I was doing that Paula & Theresa put their heads together to assemble and put stickers on Aria's "big present." It turned out to be an arduous task that took about an hour and a half to complete. You'll see why when I show you a few pictures and videos of the gift. 

Michael & Heather arrived at the house shortly after noon. Our friends, Mark & Patty, and their daughter, Amy, stopped by for a visit as well. 

We spent time together talking and enjoying the food and snacks set out on our table.

Soon, Mark & Patty said their "good-byes" and went back home to get ready for a visit from their family members on their way from St. Louis. We began to get anxious for James, Brandi, and Aria to arrive. As soon as they did the gift opening frenzy would begin.

Now I had been looking forward to taking a lot of pictures with my 40 mega pixel camera on my smart phone this year. Only problem is, I got so caught up in watching my family open their presents that I didn't take many pictures. But I will share those I did. 

By necessity, the first gift to be opened this year had to be Aria's "big gift". It was taking up a considerable amount of space in the living room. Here's a link to my You Tube video of my granddaughter discovering what her Nana, Papa, & Aunt T gave her. 

Please take notice that anything on this car that's not pink is a sticker that had to be put on by hand by my wife and sister-in-law. Aria Gets Her Minnie Car For Christmas 2014

I managed to get a nice shot of her initial moments with her Minnie car. 

With Aria's help I passed out the rest of the gifts. They were piled up in front of or the person they addressed to. 

Among the gifts some of my family members exchanged were: a plethora of gift cards, movie tickets, a variety of blu-ray movies, an electrician's multimeter for James (here he is opening it)...

...a model of "The Alien" from the SiFi movies made from small random pieces of hardware, for Michael (pic found onlilne)...

...A "To Do List" mug for me. 

....and way too much more to be mentioned here. 

The most unique gift of the day (in my opinion) didn't turn out to have the impact I wanted it to but it was still appreciated. 

Aria had a lot of fun opening her gifts. She let everyone help her open them. 

As a way of keeping her interested in rather lengthy opening process, we let her open one of her gifts right after one of the adults opened one of theirs. 

This worked until about 3/4 of the way through our unwrap-ping Aria was through opening her gifts. 

All of the rest of us still had a few things to unwrap but our little girl was disinterested and soon she was out in our kitchen sitting in her new pink car. 

We all decided to "unwrap at will" so we could finish and then take Aria out to the driveway to try out her new motorized toy. 

There was a couple of minutes of "frenzied opening" and then we all headed out to the driveway. 

There were several issues that made my granddaughter's  first adventure in her new car rather brief. 
 It was rather cold and the wind was very chilly. She liked the car but we soon realized that it would take some time for her to learn how to drive it.  

Here's a link to a video of some of her first experience. 
Aria Tries To Drive

We came back into the house and relaxed in the gift opening aftermath. Some of us enjoyed more food and desserts while others just chilled in the living room. 

After missing out on it last year I was intent on making sure I got a family Christmas picture this year. 

We all stood in front of the tree and I set up my Nokia phone to take the shot. It turned out to be a nice picture. The only problem is that we blocked out the tree. 

You can only see a portion of the star. It's just above Michael's head. To me it looks like he's wearing a tilted crown. "All Hail King Michael, The Awesome."

I also got a nice shot of James, Brandi and Aria in front of the tree and you can actually see the entire tree. 

Brandi and James still had to head to Brandi's dad's house to visit so a little before 5 they packed up and left. Theresa and Michael & Heather left soon after that. 

So just a few minutes before 6 o'clock on Christmas Day, the inevitable calm after the storm that happens every year, set in for us. 

That may seem rather early but with the combination of the intensity of our gift exchange and the little amount of rest that we got the night before we were okay with the timing of every one's departure. 

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and watching the Disney Parks Christmas Day parade (renamed: Disney Parks Frozen Celebration this year. surprise, surprise) which we DVRed earlier in the day. 

Soon it came time for me to go to bed because I had to go to work in the morning. I fell asleep thinking about and appreciating the blessing of having celebrated yet another Christmas with the ones I love. I hope you did the same...but with your family, of course.  

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