One of my favorite things that happened this Christmas was our lack of consumerism. Since we were only taking carry-ons, we didn't have room for presents.
Before we left, we let our kids open the presents from Chris's parents, and then we only gave the kids one present each, so they opened that before we left, too.
My siblings decided to draw names and get something simple or homemade for whoever we drew.
On Christmas morning, the kids checked out the things in their stockings (thanks Grandma!)
Josh loved everything in his stocking. But especially the car and legos.
Ethan was a total pre-teen. He looked over his loot with no expression, put aside the things he didn't want, tossed everything else into a bag, then walked away.
Ashley was most excited to have an orange in her stocking, since she recently watched the movie The Christmas Orange.
In the cousin exchange, Ethan received invisible ink pens from Jaron.
Josh got a little wooden airplane kit from Grant.
Ashley got a purple flashlight from Rebecca.
And I got a pair of homemade "gator" slippers from Maryann (which Ethan is still trying to steal from me).
Ethan and Chris's dad did their annual leg wrestle.
I think grandpa won.
Then he started a new Christmas headstand tradition.
Here's Josh, heading to the Church History Library, where my dad showed his posterity a lot of cool things (since he'll probably retire soon, and won't be able to show them to us in the future.)
We got to see one of the original manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon.
The thing that is so amazing about these pages is that there aren't any mistakes. Nothing is crossed out or erased. Joseph translated, and the scribe wrote whatever he said.
Trust me, as a writer, it's next to impossible to not scribble something out and word it a different way when you're writing something important.
Another testament to me that the Book of Mormon was really being translated, Joseph wasn't just sitting there making it up as he went along.
My dad showed us many other items that were historically significant, and then he tearfully bore his testimony to his children and grandchildren that working with historical items in the church history library has only made his faith stronger that prophets are real. They really get revelation from our Heavenly Father, and they really speak to us today.
It was my other favorite part of this Christmas vacation.
We also checked out the Christmas lights and candy windows.
We had a well-staffed manger scene with plenty of angels, shepherds, wisemen, and even a real baby.
We had a cousin pile-up.
And lots of hot chocolate after several sledding adventures.
Just in case you're wondering about the blue t-shirts, my sister-in-law had them made.
They say "Family is Everything"
Because that's what Little Grandma always said.
And it's so, so true.
It was a wonderful Christmas, and we were lucky to see most of both sides of our families.
It was refreshing, and now we're ready to get back to the grind of real life here in The Swamp!