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Our first Christmas in Washington was not in this house. It feels like it happened a million years ago in another lifetime. In reality, it happened in 2003 when Gavin was a teeny little guy celebrating his very first Christmas. We participated in Heath’s family traditions which was a new experience for me. Christmas day was gray and rainy and really seemed strange compared to the white Christmases I was used to in Utah.

We did go home to plenty of snow. So much, in fact, that our car got stuck in the driveway. Heath made me gun the accelerator while he pushed the car from behind. After a couple tries we managed to get the car over the crusty ice and into the garage.

So technically this was our second Washington Christmas. It was different as we tried to merge our traditions with Heath’s family’s traditions. One thing I got very used to living in California, away from any family, was staying in my pajamas all day long on Christmas day. I kind of like that tradition!

We celebrated Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Grandma Holmes joined us along with the missionaries. We had a lovely ham and cheese potatoes dinner with homemade rolls, asparagus (Heath couldn’t have any because it’s a gout trigger for him), fruit salad, and sweet potatoes (because Grandma wanted more after Thanksgiving so she made a small batch!)

Heath and I got a special Christmas present when a dear friend of ours called. We haven’t talked to Chris in a long time so that was very cool to catch up with him again. I couldn’t help but remember how our friendship began under similar circumstances. Grandma and Grandpa were visiting us for Thanksgiving. We had the sister missionaries over. I can’t remember if they came for dinner or just dessert. I know Chris came for dessert. His unexpected phone call was a pleasant surprise.

I think opening presents was Grandma’s favorite part. She was able to see my kids’ reactions live. No video required. The kids were excited to open their traditional Grandma made pajamas. By the way, the year we visited with Baby Gavin was also the one and only year Grandma did not make pajamas. She was so upset that she had to buy them that year. Since it was my first baby’s first Christmas I had no idea how important this tradition was to her. I remember wondering what the big deal was. His fleece sleeper was darling with colorful little airplanes flying across a blue sky.

Kirk was asking me about our Christmas decorations. My mom also asked many of the same questions when we talked on Christmas day. It’s funny that I took pictures of our decorations expecting to post them but I never got around to it until now. I have to say I love this house. The decorations enhance it without cluttering it to the point of claustrophobia. I would get so sick of the decorations in California that I often took it all down the day after Christmas just so I could breathe! The plan this year is to keep them up till New Year’s.

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Q: How do you decorate your tree? Do you have a theme or is it a hodge podge of ornaments? Where did you put your tree?
A: We have two trees. My tree is the main tree. A couple years ago I broke down and bought the kids their own tree because the table tree I used in college was too small for all the ornaments they keep collecting from school, church, and grandmas. I use the same decorations I have used for years. They are fancy and gold and only look good with the white lights on our pre-lit tree. Heath likes to tease me by changing to the colored lights because he knows how much I hate colored lights on trees. My tree always goes in the front room. The curve in our staircase seems to have been created to cradle a tree. I have been looking forward to putting up the tree since we moved in!

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The kids’ tree used to go on the landing between the two sets of stairs. I had my heart set on doing that here especially since there are actually two landings between the stairs. There is no outlet near the stairs so I had to come up with something else. The snowman collection lives on the lower landing.

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The kids’ tree is in the family room between the bookshelf and the fireplace. The Christmas books and CD’s are on the bookshelf. I propped the JOY letters in front of some books on a higher shelf because I didn’t know where else to put them!

Since our TV sits on the mantel I put the stockings around the bookshelf. Gwen’s stocking is around the corner. She was concerned that Santa wouldn’t see it to fill it! I told her that he was a smart guy and would figure it out. He stuffs the stockings so full that they are never hanging up after he comes.

This time they were in a row on the floor propped in front of large packages of underwear and socks. I think it’s weird that people consider these necessities a sign that they were on the naughty list! Santa’s tradition to our family is to give socks and underwear, toothbrushes, and other fun items. This year the kids got gloves, deodorant, body wash, and candy books in addition to the toothbrushes, socks, and underwear.

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I grew up with these little guys. My dad always put them on the stairs like this and we were not allowed to touch them. My kids were much more interested in these a couple years ago when I inherited them from my dad. They went along the catwalk part of the railing and the kids were asked to put them back when they were finished. That rarely happened! I was pretty excited to see that they fit perfectly on the curved part of the railing. I know they have moved ever so slightly but I have never seen any of my kids actually take them down to play with.

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These are new decorations to go with a new house. Mickey is from last year when Heath took pictures at the Ward Christmas Party. We needed something to help the little ones look at the camera and smile. Heath bought me the hanging poinsettia decoration from Costco. I love it and it looks like the stairs were made for it to go there!

The big poinsettia plants sit in the niche windows. Those niche windows were calling out for something like poinsettia plants. That was another thing I planned way back in the summer! Gwen, in all her friendliness, invited a friend to peddle her school fundraiser goods at our house. Thanks Gwen. I can’t remember how much I paid for the plants. I remember thinking it was overpriced. Then the girl delivered them. My jaw dropped. Those things were so much bigger, fuller, and more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. They perfectly fill the space in the niche. I am even more impressed that I have managed to keep them alive all this time.

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There isn’t much to say about this. I love this table and I love the Christmas decorations on it. It’s really pretty.

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One of my childhood dreams was always to own a Christmas train. I don’t know why. We have had a Lego Christmas village for many years now and for many years the kids have not been interested in putting it together. Heath put it together that first year and then nothing ever since. It didn’t help that we really had nowhere to put it in our last house. A couple years ago we got a Lego train that was a lot of fun to have running around the living room. This year I told the kids that they could not play with the train unless they put together the Christmas village. Parker did it all himself with too much “help” from Gwen. Gavin avoided all the conflict by staying out of the room.

Our living room is the smallest room in the house. We put all the presents under the tree in the living room. I wasn’t sure how Christmas morning was going to work with the five of us in there with a big tree, lots of presents, and a train. On Christmas Eve we moved the train to the family room. Heath created the dog bone shape again with the track so it would go around the tree and in front of the fire place. I was happy we didn’t have to prematurely put it away and we all fit just fine in the living room. Kids on the floor and parents in the chairs.

As per tradition, I didn’t sleep much on Christmas Eve. I went to bed around midnight, woke up at 2:30, slept for another hour and realized my blood sugar was low. That seems to be another Christmas tradition besides being my new norm. Three nights in a row at 3:30 am I wake up to low blood sugar. Ugh. The problem is I eat and can’t go back to sleep. So I basically woke up at 3:30 am on Christmas morning. We got the kids up at 6:00.

A new tradition fail was letting the kids have a slumber party in the bonus room. I wanted Gavin upstairs so we could see them all come down together. Plus, his room is too close to all the Santa action being downstairs. I thought they would love camping out together. Um no. They hated it.

I thought I heard them at one point. In my mind they were making memories talking and generally being too excited to sleep. Come to find out, Gwen had woken up and couldn’t get back to sleep so she was crying and pitching a fit hoping to get her parents attention. Meanwhile I’m the only parent awake and I think they’re just happily talking in the next room. *sigh*

Gavin hated sleeping on the floor and hated sleeping with his infantile brother and sister. Parker insisted on having his Tartis alarm clock with him. The other two insisted he not set the alarm! Gwen is just Gwen and has never been able to successfully sleep in the same room as other people. So now I’m back to the creative drawing board. They may all sleep in their own rooms next year. It just makes more sense.

Although this is how we normally look on Christmas morning. I come down with the kids while Heath gets video and pictures of it.

I got Christmas day to myself. We went to church for an hour of sacrament meeting at noon. It was really nice. A very uplifting and spiritual meeting punctuated with beautiful music. The girl (teenager) who played Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel for the ward choir was amazing. I was nearly in tears over how gorgeous her piano playing was. She played all the songs for the choir but that one was my favorite.

We didn’t go anywhere on Christmas after church. We came home and put our pajamas back on to fall asleep in front of our new movies. Today we had family come over for a game day. That was a lot of fun.

It was a year of new traditions and finding ways to incorporate our old traditions in our new home. We even sort of had a white Christmas. The family joke is that Gwen must have some connection with the weatherman or the weather gods because every time she has begged for snow she has received it. She got her snow day from school. Then she was all upset wishing for a white Christmas. On Friday we never warmed up as forecasted, so all the rain came down as snow all day long. Gwen was in heaven! It melted off the sidewalks but was still on the grass for Christmas. Perfect!

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