Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Time

Because of the Christmas holiday and travel plans, I wasn't able to keep up with the blog through the week, so this is going to be a long post. If you're not interested in hearing about the details of each day, I suggest you just skim through and just look at the pictures. If you want to spend the time to read the whole thing, by all means- go right ahead, but don't say I didn't warn you about it being a long post! :) (I also spent a lot of time trying to make the format look right, but it kept changing and adding spaces, and I don't know why. So when it is finally posted, if it has huge long spaces, I apologize. I'm not sure how to get rid of them. It's been quite frustrating...and I'm not going to change it again!)

Dec. 23rd

Mark and I got to travel to Chicago to visit my family for Christmas. We were lucky that we bought our tickets for the evening of Dec. 23rd because there were several flights being cancelled due to the weather here in Boston. On the 22nd, I heard that there were so many cancellations, and it made me worry about my flight the next day. However, the 23rd reported lots of delays, averaging up to 3 hours at one point in the day, but by the time we were supposed to take off, the flights were mostly caught up and it was only delayed less than an hour...so I wasn't complaining. At least we were able to arrive the same night we anticipated. Of course, we didn't get to our hotel until about 1:30am CST (which is more like 2:30am to us Bostonians). We borrowed a car from my parents for that evening so that we could pick up our rental car the next morning on our way to my parents' house without bothering people to come pick us up.

Christmas Eve

On the morning of the 24th, my mother called us at about 9:00am to tell us that my sister needed the car, so we needed to get going a little sooner than we naturally would've. (We were so tired that morning!) My mother was a little disappointed in that we were still not ready to spend the day with them until after we had breakfast at Denny's which wasn't until about 11:30 am, but after a late night like that, we were not about to have an early start. We wanted to be well-fed before the activities of the day- baking cookies to give out as we went caroling that night. I spent most of my day in the kitchen with my mom, sister, and sister-in-law. I think Mark tried to take a nap (unsuccessfully) on the couch in the living room and just played with the nephews in the house. The girls were just trying to get all the goodies made, and there were so many different things that my mom was preparing...I think about a dozen different kinds of cookies and treats. (My favorite was the turtle-cookies!)

We then compiled about 9 bags of these yummy goodies and brought them around with us as we sang to families in our Ward, some that were just good friends, some who we felt just needed a little more love this Christmas, and to some empty houses where no one answered the door...but we left them a bag of goodies anyway! :)

It was pretty fun, until we all felt way too cold to continue. We had my parents, 3 brothers, all 3 of their wives, one sister, Mark and myself all singing together. We were able to sing in four-part harmony and everything. It was quite fun...at least for me. Then we went back to my parents' house to have hot chocolate and cookies while my dad read the story of the Nativity from Luke 2.

Here's David warming up his wife Aileen's feet after a cold night of carolling... and monkeying around with his daughter Cherry and nephew Victor.

Honestly, who does NOT remember playing in the laundry baskets when they were little?

Mark and Victor posing for the camera- what a couple of studs!

Here we're all just chowing down on junk food and hanging out in the living room waiting for Dad to read the Nativity Story.

After all the fun with the family, Mark and I went back to our hotel room and opened our gifts from family back in Utah. I know, I know! I'm such a hypocrite! (If you read my previous post, you would know what I mean by that!) Alas, Christmas Eve was the best time to do this without having to wake up super early on Christmas day to open them.

Christmas Day

My mother had breakfast ready for us all to gather together at about 9:00am, and it was so yummy. We had a breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls, juice, grapefruit, and whatever else was lain out on the table. We had the excited kids unwrapping gifts, and just a fun time seeing what everyone got. My mother made for each of her daughters and daughters-in-law an adorable treat plate with matching napkins. My dad gave each son and son-in-law a crank-powered flashlight for our emergency kits.

The rest of the day was spent at the church building because it was the only place we could gather together with all the rest of the family. We just sat around playing games, eating soups and sandwiches. I brought my Play Station 2 with Dance Dance Revolution, and Dan hooked it up to a projection and screen on the stage. It was a hit with the nieces and the siblings. It was fun to see several of them lined up waiting for their turn to play.

Dec. 26th

We also reserved the church building all day on Friday the 26th. My brother Rob wasn't able to fly in until the evening of the 25th because he needed to be able to spend Christmas at home with his kids. His wife and children weren't able to join us because they have a new-born baby, so traveling was out of the question for them, but Rob didn't want to miss the chance to be with all the siblings. Steven's family wasn't going to be able to join us for the 25th either because of other family issues. It would just be better for them to not cram so much into one day and come the following day. So we had our big Brown Family Christmas Party on the 26th. We continued to play games that day.

Bang! (left) Killer Bunnies (right)

We had a great Turkey and Ham dinner with all the side dishes there. There was no way that a table in any of our houses would fit this many people...I think this is 2 long tables put together. Imagine how it would look if we had the two missing spouses and 5 missing grandkids there too!

After dinner, we had a quick birthday party for Joseph who was now 1 year old. He was so cute because he didn't realize that there wasn't anything different about that day, but all of a sudden people were taking tons of pictures of him eat that cupcake. There were a couple of really cute moments with him. He's a cute little boy!
These are all but 5 of the grandkids.

After the birthday party, we exchanged gifts between the siblings and the few siblings who couldn't open the gifts from Mom and Dad before did it then as well. Mark and I had Christine's family, so we bought them the "Kung-Fu Panda" double-pack DVD. She seemed to be really excited about that. Jeff and Mary had us, and they got us the game "Cranium" and popcorn and a new GPS holder for our car. That was pretty fun.

Then we took tons of family shots. There were about 6 cameras, and we needed several on each camera so that we could get some good ones. Yeah, the grandkids were starting to get pretty bored with it, and Isaac wouldn't take a picture with his tongue inside his mouth, but it was really fun. The first few shots taken were of us imitating the family photo we took back in 1989.

Can you see the similarities? (We're just not all the same sizes anymore!)

Then Mom said, "Ok, let's add the spice!" (mouse-mice, spouse-spice) We are missing 2 wives in this shot, but the majority of us are here.

Then we added the grandchildren, but there are still 5 grandkids not included in this shot.

Then we had to hurry and clean up the whole room for Jeff's and My party that were were throwing for our high school friends. It was a foggy night, so we actually had a smaller turn-out than I originally thought we would, but it was still fun. More games and time spent with friends reminiscing about high school.

After the party, and making sure the church building was back in order, we drove Jeff and Mary back to Mom and Dad's house, and then headed back to our hotel...in the densest fog I have ever seen. It was thicker than what you see in the movies. Mark was driving like 10 miles per hour, and we couldn't see more than 5 feet in front of the car. We missed our turn because I didn't realize that it was the same corner because I couldn't see the Home Depot at all. It was pretty awesome!