The Semi-Obligatory After-Christmas Post

Well, like 29 billion other bloggers out there, this is my After-Christmas Post.

Our family’s Thanksgiving celebrations were marked by a bit of lonesomeness.  Such cannot be said for Christmas, where the house was teeming with family (and a friend).

My Dad flew in on the 23rd, and I picked him up from the airport.  We have a somewhat up-and-down relationship, but I’m very happy to report that all went very smoothly.

My younger brother, Brian, whom I hadn’t seen in four years, flew in on the 21st, but spent some time with my Mom & Stepdad, then with some friends, and came over on the 24th. 

For Christmas Eve dinner, my husband Martin’s Dad and Stepmom came over, to join the six of us plus my Dad and Brian.

My Dad & Brian stayed overnight;  Martin’s parents did not….

Martin’s parents are reliable sources for GIGANTIC stuffed animals.  Bigger is better, apparently!!  I had to bite my tongue;  the doll they got for Audrey, I thought, was somewhat… uh… hideous.  But, Audrey adores it.  “Big Girl Dolly” gets a “giggyback” from her — her idea:

DSC05590.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

I always tell myself that I’m going to get more wrapping done ahead of time and not spend a marathon long-nighter on the 24th buried in unwrapped gifts, wrapping paper and ribbons.  Well…  again, it didn’t work this year.  I’m glad my Dad and Brian had some things to discuss (work-related!), and didn’t really need any “hosting” because that enabled me to wrap.  And wrap.  And wrap. 

As an aside, I found it hilarious that my Dad, the tech-geek inventor and computer hardware and software designer had just purchased his first digital camera the weekend previous to his visit.  Also, we were having a conversation and I can’t remember why, but I mentioned RSS feeds.  “What is RSS?” he asked.  I stared at him, flabberghasted.  “I mean, I understand the technology, but what is it used for?”  I found it really amusing to be explaining feed aggregators and the like to my computer-genius father.

Thankfully, the children slept in until 7:30, on the next morning, Christmas, so I did get some sleep.  Martin read the Christmas story out of Luke for us, and we all opened presents.  We do it one at a time, everyone watching the person who is doing the opening.

Is it just my children, or do anyone else’s always climb into toyboxes??

 DSC05605.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

I was really pleased with my success in finding fun, useful, active, mostly non-plastic toys for my kids — wooden rubberband guns, a scooterboard for Grant, cool savings banks, the above toybox, etc.  And what does my hubby supply?  Among other things, a big plastic dollhouse for Audrey.  I am plastic-avoidant, and also unsure about the whole thing of forcing gender roles…  One one hand, it makes me sad that femininity was discouraged in my childhood, and I want Audrey to relish her girliness;  on the other hand, I think making girls play with “girl toys” isn’t the greatest idea, either.  Plus, the toy was for kids 2+, and Audrey is 20 months.  But, I need to repent of my skepticism to my hubby.  Because, guess what is her favorite toy.  The dollhouse.  Of course.  I should have known.  She is thrilled that there is a Daddy dolly, a Mommy dolly, and a baby dolly.  She makes them stand up, sit down, take a bath, greet each other at the front door… 

Around lunchtime, my older brother, T.J., and sister-in-law, Krystina, came with the cousins, Nick, Josh, and Marley.  My brother’s boys and my boys are all six very active and slightly nerdy, so they all get along great.  TJ’s boys are 17, 15 and 12, but the age gaps seem to mean nothing to cousin-love.  Along with my brother’s clan is their family friend, Fay, a student from China who is staying with them over the four weeks of Christmas break.  I was nervous, not because we had a stranger as a guest, but because I was already planning on the non-traditional Christmas dinner of a Thai dish, and Fay’s parents own a restaurant.  I was nervous about his critique of my cooking.  But, he liked it!  I think he had thirds.  Whew!

I remarked to my older brother that I thought it was fantastic that the cousins were more interested in playing with each other than in opening presents.  Indeed, we didn’t get the presents open until early evening, right before my Dad needed go go back to the airport.

It was mass craziness, until we put in Ratatouille, when Krys and I whipped out our cameras to document the quiet and stillness:

DSC05612.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

My older brother, “posing,” while Brian looks on and Krystina remarks something like, “This is what I live with every day.”

DSC05611.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

We love the cousins!!!  (My Wes and Grant with Josh and Nick):

DSC05617.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

Right before Nick and I left to bring my Dad back to the airport, I checked my camera and saw that I didn’t have ONE pic of my Dad’s visit.  So, we remedied that (L-R:  TJ, Thomas/Dad, me, Brian).

DadandSibs.jpg picture by Karen-Joy

While we were all in the airport, which is a good 45 minute drive, Martin called, asking frantically, “Are you almost home??”  Audrey was crying, and he was having difficulty managing her, the boys, and fixing dinner (leftovers) for the seven kids and four adults who were present.  Then, he called to say Audrey started throwing up, so he turned dinner prep over to Krystina.

I finally got home, and thankfully, everyone had eaten, but Audrey was still puking, which she continued through the night, and into yesterday.  Poor girl.  😦

I got a little worried, because TJ, Krystina, and Brian were going to spend the night at my Mom’s, and Martin was going to work on the 26th, leaving me alone with eight kids, one of whom was ill.  Eek.  On top of that, I was developing a very sore throat, congestion, and a cough.  But, I managed breakfast (Bob’s Red Mill g.f. hot cereal with cranberries and brown sugar mixed in), and then shipped them all off to the park, where they stayed until TJ and Krys came back home to fetch them.

I spent most of the afternoon and evening yesterday on the couch, resting and recovering.  I’m still a little ill, as is Audrey, but I think most of it was just my body rebelling and saying, “Enough late nights and early mornings!  Enough noise and craziness!”

Really, it was only three nights of houseguests, but I guess that’s the max for me, even when I adore everyone present, and am so thrilled to have them here for Christmas.

There’s so much more I could write here — about good food, long conversations, laughing at the kids, building relationships, creating memories…  But suffice it to say it was, indeed, a very merry Christmas, and more than made up for our too-peaceful Thanksgiving.



About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on December 27, 2007, in Christmas, Family, The Dear Hubby, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Everybody knows the boxes are more fun than the toys themselves. Next Christmas, I’m just going to buy moving boxes from U-Haul!

  2. Yipee for the plastic dollhouse. My boys got one that was not too girly and they played with it alot.
    Sorry you were sick, may you feel better, I commented longishly on the next to the last posting. Happy new year!!!!!!

  3. I’m sorry there was sickness in your house. The Little Guy has run a fever since Christmas morning. Must just be the time of year, business, etc.

    I’m so glad to hear that you had a great Christmas with your Dad and other family members! 🙂 My kids can totally relate to hanging with the cousins being better than presents. lol I’m so glad, too. Long after the toys have worn out, they’ll still have their cousins. 🙂

  4. Karen,
    Great post, as always. Glad to hear your Christmas went well and that your Dad made it out for a visit. I don’t get back to the ancestral estates in Illinois very often and can’t remember the last time I spent Christmas there. We may plan a trip out there next Christmas, so the kids can see their Grandma again.

  5. Something’s missing…


  6. Allison ~ You have an avatar, but no blog linked to your name! Post here if you’d like, and I’ll edit your comment so folks (including me) can check out your blog. Thanks for stopping by.

    Lisa ~ Thank you for your previous comment… It was highly encouraging. I wouldn’t have thought my boys would have been interested in a dollhouse, but now that Audrey has one, they’ve all been playing with it. Except they do things like make the dollies jump out the windows to their deaths and things like that. 😀

    Mrs. N ~ What is it about Christmas? Seems like someone is *always* sick at Christmas, here. 😦 I’m sorry your littlest is sick… Is he better yet?

    Steve ~ Christmas in IL. That’s a good idea. When I was… six, I think, we took the train out to IL for Christmas, and enjoyed my first (and only) white Christmas. I still remember looking out the window in the morning and marvelling at the snow, which hadn’t been there the night before, blanketing the ground, and all the stillness it brought.

    Robin ~ You mean someone?? I could Photoshop you in. 😉

  7. Not sure what I’ve done wrong (can be tech challenged) but my URL is

  8. Hope you and Audrey are feeling better. Sounds and looks like fun was had by all and yes boxes are always more fun than the original contents. Audrey will be fine as she is a girly girl but she is growing up with 3 brothers so she will have anice balance as will they…it will be okay. 🙂

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