Before sending the children to bed on Christmas Eve we had them pick "spots" for their stocking so that in the morning they'll know where to look for them. This year we hung our stockings from the TV armoire because when they hang on the mantle they get in the way of the piano, which has been experiencing rather heavy use this year now that both girls are taking piano lessons. Andrew took down the stockings and instructed the children to "find a place on the couch."
The girls each quickly claimed a corner while Benjamin compliantly chirped, "Okay!" before putting his stocking on the floor...
So in the morning, that's where all his Santa stuff was waiting for him.
And here's what the kids were going to see when they ran through the Santa-curtain in the morning:
We actually had to wake the children up to do presents in the morning, which was rather funny because the night before they had been asking Andrew and me about traditions in our families when we grew up and I mentioned that I don't really remember ever having to wake up my parents on Christmas morning because my dad was always so excited for us to open presents that he'd wake us up. He's quite an early riser while I would rather have a good sleep-in.
So when we woke the kids up at 8:30 they said, "Hey! Why are you waking us up? I thought you liked to sleep in on Christmas!!"
I guess we let them stay up a little too late on Christmas Eve!
We reminded them that circumstances were different this year and that we had to get ready to go to church in addition to doing all our Christmas stuff. But even the thought of presents wasn't enough to coax them out of bed. Miriam, in particular, took several minutes of prodding before she finally agreed to get up.
Here they are bursting through the curtain:
Benjamin, as you can see, headed straight for the couch. And then he shrieked, "Hey! Where's my stuff? Santa didn't bring me anything!"
We had to remind him that he chose a spot on the floor, silly boy.
Here are the girls exploring their gifts:
Miriam is holding a couple of little cross-stitch kits, which later made her cry because it's "just one more thing for [her] to learn!" and "how [is she] supposed to learn anything well if [she] just keep[s] having to learn new things?" because she has "piano and ukulele and cheer and school" and adding cross-stitching was just "too much."
It was at that point in the day that we declared there had been "too much Christmas for Miriam," but in the morning she was happy to have them.
And here you can see she's just pulled out a new hair brush:
We've had a few bad hairbrush experiences this year. A couple hair brushes have been thrown across the room (causing their handles to snap off). A couple of hair brushes have been angrily twisted through beautiful, waist-length hair (resulting in a shoulder-length chop (even though we managed to untangle the brush she still insisted she needed a hair cut)). Once we couldn't find a single hair brush in the house—besides mine—which is ridiculous because I think the girls have five (admittedly two don't have handles at all and one (that I've had for twenty years) has only half a handle because a little baby Teesha Olson ate the cushy plastic part off about 17 years ago)).
Santa brought the girls Wet brushes and, let me tell you, they are everything the online reviews said they would be. When it was time to get ready for church, these hair brushes cut through the girls' bedhead like nothing. Even Zoë's matted baby hair was no match for the Wet brush. Miriam brushed out all of Zoë's tangles while Zoë was eating breakfast and she didn't even squawk. After I showered I tried out one of their brushes on my wet hair and it sliced through my tangles like butter.
What is this magic?!
We've been using spray-on detangler since around 2010 when our friends the Palmers were staying with us in Egypt for a few days and Bridget broke it out to use on her Miriam's tangles. I was in awe. I had no idea such a thing existed and the minute we touched down on American soil we went out to buy some for our tangled-haired, tantrum-throwing Rachel.
It's been a staple in our household ever since, but dare I say...no more?!
I really don't think we need it anymore. The girls haven't used it all week because these Wet brushes cut through all their tangles naturally. I don't understand how they work, but these brushes are amazing.
Ahem. Infomercial over. Moving on.
Here's a few more pictures of the kids getting into their stockings—Rachel admiring at her art satchel and Miriam looking at her new coin bank:
Here's Zoë in the middle of saying, "Ooh! Ball!"
She was afraid to pick her stocking up at first, so it was funny to watch her try to get her things out:
Here she is after she realized it was okay to touch her stocking:
Here's Benjamin discovering that the back door of his mail truck actually opens:
You probably noticed the big "package" in the middle of the living room floor:
They were more than halfway through their stockings before Miriam said, "Uh...guys...there's a trampoline behind me!"
That announcement caused quite a bit of excitement! We couldn't believe that none of the kids noticed or were curious about it before then! Here's Benjamin bouncing on it:
He spent most of Christmas day (and a good portion of each day thereafter) doing the very same thing. He's hardly let his sisters on it at all. Though it was a gift for all the children, I think energetic little Benjamin was specifically who Santa had in mind when he lugged it down the chimney, so I'm pretty sure Santa considers this a win in his book.
The kids got mini boxes of cereal in their stockings, which was a great way to move them from the joy of opening presents to the drudgery of getting ready for the day (they're always excited about sugar cereal).
We held a combined meeting with all the wards that meet in our building. Our choir sang a number, the Spanish branch provided a number, and the other ward did a saxophone/piano duet. We also had a baby blessing and a confirmation (and one talk). There were about 400 people there, so the sacrament portion took forever, and it was rather crowded, but it was wonderful.
We sang quite a few hymns as a congregation and the resulting music—400 voices strong—was pretty great. Our choir sang last so we got to stay on the stand for the closing number—best seats in the house! Sitting facing the congregation with all that sound rushing at us was simply amazing. (The song, for the record, was Angels We Have Heard On High, which our bishop calls "the one true" Christmas song).
I wanted to get a picture of the children all dressed up for Christmas after church, but Zoë was feeling uncooperative, so I stood in for a few while she warmed up to the idea. We didn't end up with what I would call a perfect shot, but we managed to capture a few wonderful moments:
This picture, though, is my favourite: