The 1st Surprise:
We were actually early to my dad's! In fact we were the first ones there. Normally they are getting ready to eat and calling to see if we are on our way over or what... (Hey, you try getting three little children and a husband who is slower than molasses anywhere on time. I challenge you.)
We helped set up food and take coats and mingle with all the family as they arrived. After everyone was there we started the feast! Everyone was joking and laughing and saying how we needed at least 20 more people to handle the amount of food everyone had brought.
But it was all so delicious!
The 2nd Surprise:
While we were eating a couple of people mentioned they were disappointed that we weren't web-camming with Josh and Elena and their holiday party in Maryland. Dad said they had gone ice skating or something and he would try to call them later.
The doorbell rang and I just happened to be closest, so I jumped up and answered it. I opened the door and a loud, strong chorus of "We wish you a Merry Christmas" began. I looked at the loudest singer and froze with shock! Josh, Elena and Huck were here! I screamed and laughed and cried and hugged my brother as hard as I could. Then everyone was there and screaming and crying and laughing and hugging. Except for my Dad who just stood there looking pole-axed and saying, "You're here. How are you here?" (Not that he wasn't glad to see them, just completely taken aback by the surprise.) I think it was one of those moments where seconds feel like they last for minutes, and a few minutes after that Jake and Huck were hanging out and playing video games like it hadn't been more then 18 months since the last time we had seen them!
It took me a good ten minutes to stop shaking long enough to start eating my dinner again. But really we were too busy talking to eat anyway...
The 3rd Surprise:
Not too long after that the doorbell rang again and it was Santa! He comes every year and brings the kids Christmas Eve stockings filled with a few treats and small gifts to help get through the long night of waiting ahead. (This is one of my favorite traditions from my childhood, our stockings were filled with trinkets such as you might find at the dollar store or from the Oriental Trading Company and we love playing with them while we hung out in the upstairs bedroom. My parent rule was that they didn't care if we went to sleep or not as long as we all stayed in that bedroom with the door shut. I also have many fond memories of all out stuffed animal wars and pillow fights on Christmas Eve...)
Evie is still going through a shy phase and was barely audible when she asked for a lady-bug pillow pet.
Lila on the other hand ran to greet Santa at the door, took him by the hand, led him to the chair and climbed up in his lap with no prompting. She asked for presents. All month long whenever we asked her what she wanted Santa to bring her she would say, "Presents." Then we would say, "What kind of presents?" And she would say, "Santa bring presents."
Jake is entering that awkward stage where he wants to believe with all his heart, but he's not quite sure how the magic works and he really wants to understand the mechanics of everything. He also asked for a pillow pet, a dolphin one.
Here is Huck with Santa. This is just because I was still thrilled that my children's cousin was here and able to participate in this tradition with us!
We stayed and did Christmas Eve toasts with my family and then came home to open our Christmas Eve jammies.
The 4th Surprise:
A festive colored shirt for Brian! You can't tell me that shirt wouldn't make your mood a festival!
The 5th Surprise:
I had gotten the kids some magic reindeer food to sprinkle on the lawn and draw Santa to our house! They were very excited to try this.
One of the things I love most about my son is how sweet he is with his little sisters and how quickly he steps up to help them and make sure they are a part of anything fun that is going on.
After that it was quickly inside to wash our hands, brush our teeth, say our prayers and get snuggled into bed so Santa could come visit our house and leave us more surprises!