Because if you don't take a million photos, did it ever really happen?
Ahhh, Christmas Eve. The best day of the year. We went to Mass at 4pm as a whole, healthy family (which is a rarity the past few holidays!) and my four oldest boys served. They always serve every Mass they attend at our parish, but seeing them serve on Christmas, with a whole bunch of other boys, all decked out in red and white is really beautiful.
|Snuck this photo during the homily when Father asked the kids to come forward. Brendan and Declan are up there!|
|Bi-Annual Church Family Photo - Christmas and Easter!|
We went home and the kids got to open a gift from each other (Secret Santa style) which is always amusing! This year's big laughs went to Brendan for buying Xander a princess ball, Declan for buying Maggie a bracelet that says "Brother", and Andrew for wrapping up a watch for Declan over and over again to form a huge gift. Declan kept opening each layer, like whaaaaat?
Then we ate Phil's delicious dinner of braciole that had been simmering all day, along with a burrata and arugula salad and some cheesy garlic bread. Yum-o!
Christmas Eve was extra special this year because our goddaughter, Haley slept over (she bunked with Maggie) and spent the night and next morning with our crazy family. To mark the occasion, I got all the girls my favorite matching pajamas :)
Phil and I gave the kids one Christmas gift (as was in my family's tradition) and they all received a comfy throw blanket. They were immediately used while watching The Muppet Christmas Carol after dinner. Then we went downstairs to my parent's house and had a birthday party for Jesus with two of my sisters and their families. And our parish priest! We ate ice cream cake, and listened to Frank Kelly's 12 Days of Christmas, and had such a fun night.
|Good old Hobby Lobby|
We went back upstairs and ordered kids to bed so that we could put out the magic:
The next morning, the kids have to wait until 7am to come downstairs, and we get a photo of them waiting on the stairs each year, one of my favorite traditions.
Time for stockings!
And then "three" presents each. Sometimes, a few clothing items get grouped together as one present. There, I feel better about being completely transparent.
|Horrible photo of me, but Declan was so excited to give me this gift :)|
We ate a big breakfast after all the opening was finished...we all look forward to the cinnamon buns each year! I use the Cook's Country recipe.
Then around noon, we got dressed and headed up to my brother's house in Westwood, MA. Alexander Elton John Martin played us a few Christmas tunes:
Christmas is also my brother, Sean's, birthday! Happy 53rd big bro!
The kids just love spending the day with their cousins - it is truly the best.
We had three Sweeney Swaps this year - the preteens, the teens, and the adults. One gift for everyone makes it a lot easier when there's so many people.
|Brendan was thrilled with each and every present he received that day!|
And here's everyone on my side - Mum, Dad, their six kids, their spouses, and 22 grandchildren. What a lucky bunch we are.
It was a wonderful day, and the memories are fresh, but hopefully they will be longlasting. Some highlights:
Phil needed a new phone desperately, and since he is the king of not spending money, I knew I had to get him one for Christmas. Well, I got a deal where the phone came with a $50 Apple gift card, and a $45 credit from returning his old phone, so basically I was also able to buy him an older model of the Apple watch for $104. Boy was he mad and suprised at the same time. Madprised?! Haha, I love gift giving!
JP and Andrew received Beats wireless earbuds as their "big gift" and were happy to open them, but I could tell they weren't thrilled. So the next day I asked them if they wanted to exchange them for a different type of earbud, and they both said they wanted AirPods. We had originally told them no to those because of the cost, and the fact that they have each lost a few retainers, so taking care of expensive things isn't exactly their strong suit. But, I was feeling very Christmas-generous and so they returned the Beats for AirPods and are very happy campers. It turned out that the store credit for the Beats was worth more than the AirPods cost, so in the end, it was a smart financial move!
Maggie and Xander both got motorized scooters and love them! It has been keeping them outside so much, and though they're not exactly exercising, at least they're engaging their core? Ha! Maggie was especially easy to buy for this year, as things like nail polish, scrunchies, lip gloss, clothes, and washi tape are amongst her fave things.
Eamon was so hard for me to buy for this year. He's the type of kid that wants for nothing (like his Dad!) and the one thing he had mentioned a few months ago was that his Patriots jersey was too small. So he got a new jersey and then we didn't know what else to get him. On Black Friday, Phil saw an ad for a hoverboard that was a lot cheaper than we remembered them being, and we bought it on a whim. Well, Eamon has thanked me for his jersey and hoverboard every day since. He is just so grateful!
Declan opened each gift, and then had to carry them all around for fear someone might take them. My mom likened it to a homeless person carrying all their possessions with them everywhere they go, but I think it's just being a kid in a big family!
Brendan literally opened each gift and said, "This is what I always wanted!" or "This is actually what I wanted!" or "This is exactly what I wanted!". It was so endearing and fun to have him around, and it pains me to think of how overwhelmed I felt four years ago when I found out I was pregnant with him. Now I couldn't imagine life without his sweet little face.
And that, my friends is a Christmas wrap. If you read this whole thing, you deserve a hot chocolate and a cookie - it's still Christmas, after all!