I put the word "Eve" in quotations because technically this party was not held on December 24th but it is the traditional party that has been held on Christmas Eve ever since I was born, and for many years before that. Originally it included my grandma (and probably grandpa although I don't remember), aunts, uncles and cousins, although now it is just my parents, siblings and their families. But the activities have been the same for 3-4 decades now.
1. Christmas dinner
2. Christmas games - such as Christmas Bingo, the Christmas Quiz, or dressing a team member up as Santa using red crepe paper, cottonballs and toilet paper - then judging to see who gets first prize.
3. The Program - this might have included telling about a favorite Christmas present, singing a song, reciting a poem or story, or listening to Grandma or other adult telling about Christmas when they were a child.
4. The Nativity - my memories of this include all the cousins gathering in a separate room to don their costumes - feeling extra special the year it was my turn to be Mary. We would all file into the family room listening to "Adoration of the Magi" from the Ben Hur soundtrack on the record player, while someone read the story of the nativity from Luke 2. After everyone was in place, we would sing "Silent Night" accompanied by Shawn on the guitar.
5. The Presents - all the cousins would open their gifts from each other.
Did I forget anything? I know there are family members reading this - any memories to add?
I have been helping my parents transfer their old family movies to DVD and have seen year after year of the activities described above - 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, etc. It's remarkable.
This year was no different. After a lovely Christmas dinner, we played Christmas Bingo and then moved into the living room for dessert and the program. My mom really outdid herself this year with dessert - Floating Island topped with threads of spun sugar. Wow!
The Dessert Table
Isaac with one of Grandma's decorated sugar cookies
Cousins ready for the program
(this stairway has been the seating for many cousins over the years)
The theme for this year's program was "I Want to Share..."
Amy shared a poem Nick wrote called "The Little Drummer Boy." It was actually about Nick's little brother Jake who really does play the drums and was driving the family crazy with the ruckus. Baby brother Jack finally ordered "the little drummer boy" to stop and finally they had peace and quiet.
"The Little Drummer Boy"
Baby brother has a turn
Tess shared her memories of receiving different kittens for Christmas and how they ended up getting mauled by dogs and almost frozen to death or else stuck underneath the organ. (Note the painting of Tess in the background - done by Trevor Southey)
Cate did a lovely dance (of course) wearing her sparkly red dancing dress
I didn't want to fix the red eyes in this one!
Isaac and Addie played Christmas songs on the piano (including one duet with mom)
Kip showed a figure that he bought in Israel of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. He shared his feelings about the family and the birth of the Savior. He also wanted the rest of us siblings to know that even though the figurine was currently on display at Mom and Dad's house - that it belonged to him (it even had his name written on the bottom!). (Sorry Kip, it was the best picture I had.)
Papa shared what he got in his Christmas stockings when he was a boy. Every year he received the same thing - hard tack candy, a brown banana (his family owned a grocery store and his father would bring home the leftover brown bananas for the family), a can of Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk, nuts (with the shell), and either an orange or an apple.
After the program was the nativity. Addie was Mary this year, Jake was Joseph and then we a had a couple of angels and wise men and a shepherd. Of all the nativities we've had - I think this is one of the sweetest I've seen. This time we listened to "Star of Bethlehem" from Ben Hur as the kids took their places, but we still sang "Silent Night."
Then the fun began! The kids got to open their gifts from the cousins and the grandparents.
Just a few more good snapshots...
Busy in the kitchen
Finally taking off the apron to join the party
Nice shiner! Got it from basketball
A very horribly washed out picture of the one usually behind the camera
Addie must have inherited this ability from her aunts!
All in all - a wonderful evening. Sorry - I warned you the long post!