We had been up until 2:00 putting the presents under the tree and getting everything arranged, so it was fortunate that the boys let us sleep until 7:00 before they started waking us up.Xander and Wyatt had slept together in Xander’s room and woke up first, and then Xander went to wake up Danny and Brandon while Wyatt did the same with Dion and me.Once we were up and moving, they went to wake up the twins, and then the four of them raced through the house yelling:
“Wake up.It’s Christmas and there’s lots of presents under the tree.” Apparently, they had snuck downstairs to take a peek before they woke the rest of us up.
This also woke TJ and prompted Dobby and Flash to bark as they chased the boys around, and when TJ began to cry Dion went to pick him up and calm him down.It was his first Christmas and we wanted him to look happy when people were snapping pictures or filming what was going on.Dion changed his diaper and I went to warm up his bottle, because we knew this would be the fastest way to put him in the best mood.
Tristan and Revin were also excited and quickly joined Xander and Wyatt in waking up the others, but the older kids grumbled and said they wanted to go back to sleep.While they were trying to get the older kids out of bed, I called Becky to let her know she should come to the house so she could see Revin open his presents.Since we’d told the boys that we wouldn’t open presents until we were all together, including Becky, the boys turned their attention to bugging the older ones until they got up and came down to join us.
The living room was full of presents, and they weren’t just under the tree.They were also stacked on the furniture, against the walls, and covered much of the floor, so we directed everyone to wait in the dining room or foyer until we were ready to get started.Once Becky arrived and we’d poured her a fresh cup of coffee, we got started.
Dion had finished giving TJ his bottle, so he handed him to me as he and Danny began passing out the presents.After each of the kids had one, there was a flurry of wrapping paper flying in all directions before they started holding their presents up so we’d all see what they got.I opened TJ’s presents for him and let him play with the rattle and ring of plastic keys, and Dobby and Flash got chew toys and some treats, so they were also happy and didn’t bother the rest of us.
We’d arranged the presents so the ones for those staying at the house were readily accessible, and the gifts for the others were the ones that were farther under the tree or stacked between the furniture.We continued passing out the presents until those at the house had opened all of their gifts from Santa Claus and the rest of us, and then we took a short break to have breakfast.
When the others began to return to the house a short time later, we exchanged gifts with them, although most of the presents were for the kids.Since the family has grown so large, Dad, Pop, and all of Dad’s children, both biological and adopted, had agreed to only buy presents for the grandchildren.However, each of our families also gave a gift to Dad and Pop, and those of us living at the house bought presents for each other as well.
This continued until the last group arrived for Christmas dinner, and most of them came in carrying side dishes or desserts to add to the meal.Before long, everyone who had been with us for Christmas Eve dinner were also with us for Christmas dinner, and we gave thanks before digging in.
“Another wonderful meal,” said Katie when she had eaten half of the food on her plate.“I don’t know how you manage to do so well for these large events, but I wish you had shown Dustin how to cook when he was growing up.”
“I agree with Katie,” chimed in Beth.“I wish Cole could fix a meal every now and then too.”
“I taught each of them enough so that they could survive if they chose to live off campus at college or if they lived alone or with roommates later, but nothing as fancy as this.”
“That’s a shame,” said Katie, “because it would have helped me a lot if he could fix a meal a couple of times a week.”
“You can still teach him.”
“I’ve tried.He said he’d learn how to cook if I was willing to learn how to fix an air conditioner or a heating system.”
“It only seemed fair,” chimed in Dustin.
“Grandpa Josh and Uncle Trey are teaching Joshie and me how to cook, and they taught Ryan and Noah too,” added Benny.
“Then that will make your wives, or husbands, very grateful,” replied Beth, with the other women nodding in agreement.
“Just make sure you pay attention,” urged Aunt Sally, “because you couldn’t have two better teachers.”
“Yeah, they taught me too,” added Jesse, “and my roommates are all grateful for that.Most of them can’t cook and have trouble boiling water, so I fix the meals and let them do the dishes and clean the house.”
“That sounds like a fair trade,” agreed Aunt Mary, “but I hope they’re better at doing those things than they are at fixing meals.”
“Eh, they’re not great, but they do alright.”
Throughout the remainder of the meal, various individuals were urged to tell us about one or two gifts they received that they appreciated the most.Even though it was difficult to choose, and they didn’t want to hurt any feelings, we all urged them to do it and promised no one would get upset if they didn’t mention the gift they had given them.It helped to turn this into a very enlightening exchange, although some of the kids couldn’t narrow it down to just one or two items.Many of them stated several gifts, and then they tried to add a few more while someone else was taking their turn.It was a fascinating and interesting process.
After dinner, the adults got together in smaller groups, while the boys went off to play with the new gadgets they’d received or investigate those items more closely.Basically, the older group split into three areas, with Dad, Pop, Uncle Steve, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Sally staying in the dining room while sipping another cup of coffee.Most of the others went to the living room to talk, while the college group and those closer in age to that group went to the family room to chat.It gave us all a chance to get closer to those we hadn’t seen in a while.
This continued until each group decided to take a break and have dessert, but they didn’t all do it at the same time.There was a lot to choose from, and with each group going separately we didn’t get in each other’s way as we were deciding.There was plenty to go around, so no one was going to lose out.
“You made chocolate cake again!” shouted Wyatt in delight.
“Yes, I knew how much you boys liked it, so I made it just for you,” replied Dad.
“Whoa, I wanna piece of that,” stated Lucas.
“And there are pies and a pineapple upside-down cake for the others, as well as some of the cookies the boys made, so everyone should be able to find something they like,” I added.
When we finished, we went back to our groups for a while longer, and this time we heard the TV playing in the family room.It seemed some of that group wanted to watch A Christmas Story, which had become one of their Christmas traditions.
Eventually, we all decided to stop and have a snack to tide us over until bedtime, and once again we did it by groups.Dad’s group was the first to do this, and Dad fixed each of them something to eat, even though much of it was merely warming up the leftovers that remained from dinner.The next older group was the next to stop, and Brandon and I fixed them a little something, and when the movie ended, the grandchildren decided they were also hungry.To my surprise and delight, Ryan, Noah, Joshie, and Benny announced they would fix something for that group to eat, because they were eager to impress the others with their newly acquired skills.Once everyone was full again, each group spent a little more time together before we called it a night.
Uncle Steve, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Sally were the first to leave, but they, along with the others, agreed to return the following day.We hadn’t exactly decided on anything special to do yet, but we knew we enjoyed each other’s company and wanted to continue being together for as long as the others remained here.
When we woke up the following morning, we discovered that it had snowed overnight and a couple of inches of new snow covering the ground.This helped to get the kids excited again, so after they ate breakfast, they dressed warmly before we let them go outside.By the time the others arrived, the kids wanted the rest of us to come out to see what they had done.Reluctantly we agreed, and we put on our heavier clothing and followed them out the front door.
“We built snowmen,” said Xander proudly.
“Yeah, Elliot and Noah helped us,” added Wyatt.
“You did a great job,” replied Danny.
“Yes, this one’s just like Frosty the Snowman,” added Dion.
“It was fun doin’ it,” said Kylie.
“Yeah, we each rolled a different size snowball and then Elliot and Noah helped us put them together,” added Lucas.
“You all did a wonderful job,” Pop stated, and the rest of us agreed.
The boys were eating up this praise when Joshie made a suggestion: “Let’s have a snowball fight.It will be the adults against us kids.”
We didn’t have time to respond before we started getting pelted with white, circular projectiles, so we started making snowballs and throwing them at the kids.Needless to say, we were on the losing side of the battle, but the kids had fun doing this, and I think the rest of us did too.
“Grandpa Josh, do you still have the toboggan that we used when Grandpa Pat and Grandma Brenda were here for Christmas?” asked Benny.
“Yes, I believe it’s in the basement in the same room where I stored the Christmas decorations.”
“Can you help me get it so we can go sledding?”
“You should probably ask your fathers first, and I’ll get the toboggan for you if they agree it’s alright.”
“I’m not sure we want the younger boys to be doing this alone,” commented Brandon.
“Noah and I will take turns going down the hill with them,” suggested Elliot.“We had fun doing it with Grandpa Pat and Grandma Brenda, so we’re willing to do this for the younger kids too.”
“Ok, then I guess you can go, since you’re all dressed warmly already,” the parents all agreed.
“Thanks!” they all screamed before running off, and Dad took Benny down to the basement to dig out the toboggan.
From the bits of discussion I’d overheard, I believe Ricky was trying to convince Tiffany to let him go tobogganing with the younger group, but she kept saying no.
“Let them do it without you taking up room on the toboggan so one of them won’t be able to go.”
Ricky wasn’t happy about this, but he heeded Tiffany’s advice.
After the kids left to take advantage of the same hill some of them had ridden down with Brandon’s parents when they were here the last time, the rest of us went back inside and took off our winter clothing.Brandon and I made hot chocolate for everyone, to help warm us up after being outside for so long.
“Damn, I forgot to bring out the Christmas candy yesterday,” I stated, since the term ‘hot chocolate’ reminded me of candy.
“That’s ok, just go get it now,” Pop urged.“What do you have?”
“We bought chocolate covered cherries and chocolate bells, Lindt chocolate truffles, holiday Hershey kisses, and old-fashion hard Christmas candy.I also bought holiday M&Ms, chocolate Santas, gummy Santas, sour gummy trees, Lifesaver candy canes, and regular candy canes, but those are primarily for the kids.They’re in a couple of bags in the rec room closet.”
“Go get them and we can have some now with our hot chocolate,” urged Dad.
“And we’ll make hot chocolate for the kids when they return, and then they can choose some of the candy to eat after lunch.”
While I was getting the candy, Dad went to get the box he stored a bunch of candy bowls in, because we didn’t use them very often.After we washed each one and dried it, we put the candy in them so the others could choose what they wanted.
“I love chocolate covered cherries,” said Sarah.
“And I’ve been dying for a Lindt truffle,” stated Tiffany.
“I guess I’m still a kid, because I’m going to take some M&Ms,” added Elizabeth.
“I think I’ll just take a sample of each,” followed Robert, and his brother and brothers-in-law all agreed with his suggestion.
When the kids returned later, they were covered in snow, so we asked them to brush each other off outside before they came indoors.While they were doing that, Brandon and I started making hot chocolate to warm them up.
“That was a blast,” said Xander.
“Yeah, it was a lot of fun,” agreed Hayden.
“I hope the snow doesn’t melt, so we can do it again tomorrow,” added Hunter.
“There aren’t any good hills where we live, so we don’t get a chance to do this,” said Lucas.“I really had fun.”
“Did you all thank Elliot and Noah for doing that with you?” asked Dion.
“Nope, we forgot,” answered Wyatt.
“Then why don’t you do it now,” suggestion Danny.
“Thank you, Elliot and Noah!” the boys all shouted.
“Yes, thank you,” added Holly, Megan, and Kylie in a normal voice.“We had a great time doing it.”
“But we should get another toboggan, because that way we wouldn’t have to wait so long between rides,” said Benny.
“You’re right, so after I’ve finished my hot chocolate and lunch, I’ll take Noah with me and see if we can buy another one,” replied Elliot.“Or maybe two more, if we can find some for sale.”
“That would be great!” the others agreed.
“And if you get a third toboggan, then I can take a group down on that one,” offered Holly.
“Sounds good to me,” Elliot agreed, “so why don’t you come with us when we go looking to see what’s left in the stores.”
“Thanks, I’d love to do that,” she agreed.
After they finished their hot chocolate and had warmed up a bit, they had a quick lunch.After that Elliot, Noah, and Holly changed quickly, since they were wet now that the remaining snow had melted and soaked into their clothing. Elliot didn’t want them sitting in his car in wet clothes, so they agreed to change.Once they were ready, they put on another heavy coat and headed out to go shopping.I’m not sure the day after Christmas was the right time to be doing this, but they seemed determined.
“Just drive carefully,” Brandon told Elliot.
“I know, Dad.This isn’t the first winter I’ve driven in weather like this.”
After they left, we let the others have some of the candy, and when Elliot, Noah, and Holly returned, we let them have some as well.
“Did you find anything?” asked Dad while they were eating the sweets.
“Yes, I went to the same store where we bought the other one, when Grandpa Pat and Grandma Brenda were here, and they had a whole stack of them.”
“Yes, Elliot bought two more for us to use, but we left them outside with the other one for now,” added Holly.
“We figured we could go back out and do it again before dinner,” continued Noah.
The other kids were all cheering and thanking Elliot, since he had used his money to purchase them.However, I would talk to Brandon, Danny, and Dion about chipping in and paying him back, since he shouldn’t have to pay for amusing our sons.When I saw him later, I asked how much he had spent.
“They didn’t cost that much,” he replied.
“Maybe not, but we’d like to reimburse you for them.”
“Nah, it’s my gift to my brothers, sister, and cousins.It made me feel good watching them having so much fun earlier, and now it will be even better.”
“I know they all appreciate it, and I want you to know that we do too.You’re a great son, brother, and cousin.”
I think he blushed slightly before walking away, and before long he was leading the others outdoors again and heading for the hill.He was pulling one toboggan, Noah another, and Holly had the third one as the others followed them, and I noticed that this time Ricky was going too.Obviously, he’d talked Tiffany into letting him do this, and I concluded that by having three toboggans she didn’t feel the others would miss out as much with Ricky joining in.
It was a couple of hours later and we were starting to get a little worried, because it was nearly dark and they hadn’t returned.We wondered if maybe they had an accident or something went wrong, and since Ricky was with them it was a definite possibility.We were all greatly relieved when we saw them all laughing and joking around when they came inside a few minutes later.
“That was awesome,” said Megan.“We got to ride a lot more this time and we even raced.”
“Yeah, that was awesome,” said Tristan.
“Uncle Ricky kept fallin’ off the back when we went over a bump,” added Wyatt gleefully.
“That’s because Joshie kept aiming for it.I think he knew it would happen,” snapped Ricky.“He knew I couldn’t grab onto one of the smaller kids to keep my balance, so I was bound to fall off.”
“Come on, you know we can’t steer those things,” challenged Elliot.
“Then you must have known where those bumps were and aimed at them before we started down the hill.”
“But the same thing happened when you rode down with Benny too.”
“Then he must have been in on it with you.”
“But the same thing would have happened if you rode down with Holly,” stated Benny in support of Joshie.
“Then you were all conspiring against me!”
“It’s a field and there are bumps everywhere,” stated Holly.
“And you were the one who invited yourself to go with us,” pointed out Joshie.
“See, I told you not to go and spoil their fun,” added Tiffany.“You’re at least ten years older than any of them and you should start acting your age.”
“He actually made if more fun,” said Benny.“It was a riot watching him sliding down the hill on his butt after he fell off.”
“Ok, I think that’s enough of this,” urged Dad.“Let’s talk about something else.”There was a brief pause before Revin spoke up.
“Mom, I’m glad you’re lettin’ me stay here with these guys.”
“I knew you’d prefer being with the other boys, and it helps me too.I’ll be retuning home in a little while to bake my pies, and then I’ll be coming back for dinner.The Curries have invited me to have dinner with them every night while you’re here.”
“Good, I’m glad.”
“Are Uncle Steve, Aunt Mary, and Aunt Sally coming back too?” asked Joshie.
“No, they won’t be joining us again until New Year’s Eve,” answered Dad.
“Are we gonna be able to stay here until then?” asked Lucas.
“You’ll have to ask your parents that question.”
“But can we stay, if they say it’s ok?”
“Yes, I don’t have a problem with that.”
“Can we?” Dad’s biological grandchildren asked their parents simultaneously.
“How would you get home?” responded Tim, which caused all of the kids to stop and look at each other.
“I’ll still be on vacation, so I can bring them back,” offered Dion after quickly conferring with me.
“But we don’t live that close together,” stated Michael, “so that would be a very long trip for you.”
“Then Dion can take Jordan, Megan, and Lucas home, because you guys don’t live too far apart, and I’ll take Nicky and Kylie,” offered Elliot.
“Are you guys sure you want to do that?”
“Yes – that’s why we’re offering,” Dion and Elliot each replied.
“Ok, then you can stay until Friday,” Michael responded for all after conferring with the others.“That way Dion and Elliot won’t be tired out from staying up late and partying on Wednesday.”
The kids were all cheering now, and then they thanked their parents before taking off to discuss with each other what they were going to do during that time.Once they’d left, their parents spoke to us.
“Thank you very much for doing this,” stated Andrea.“Now we won’t have to try to figure out ways to entertain them for the rest of the holiday.”
“Yes, this will help out a lot,” agreed Marie and Elizabeth.
“And it will allow your husbands to watch the football games on New Year’s Day without interruption,” added Pop.
“Not completely,” replied Andrea snarkily.
“It’s still our pleasure to do this,” said Dad.“I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, so this gives me a chance to spend a little more time with them too.And I want to thank Dion and Elliot for helping to make it possible.”
“Not a problem,” replied Elliot simply.
“And I’m happy to do it too,” agreed Dion, “because they’ll be helping to entertain our sons while they’re here.”
Dinner that evening was a very joyous time.Revin happily told his mom about his day since she had gone home during that time.He told how they’d spent most of it playing in the snow, building the snowmen, having a snowball fight, and sliding down the hillside.
“Wow, it sound’s like you had an amazing time while I was gone,” responded Becky.
“Yeah, it was great, and thank you for lettin’ me stay here when you went back home.”
When we finished eating, the kids took off and Becky spoke to Dad.“When you offered to let him stay here while I went home, I didn’t expect that you’d do so much for him.”
“I didn’t do it.My other grandchildren did most of it.”
“Yes, and since you have so many grandchildren, it ends up helping me out as well.”
The next couple of days went pretty much the same way, with the kids spending most of each day sliding down the hill.It snowed a little more overnight on Friday and continued to snow lightly throughout the day, which gave them plenty of snow to slide down on.Fortunately, Elliot, Noah, and Holly didn’t get tired of lugging the toboggans back up the hill so they could take the others for another ride down again, and it seems as if everyone had a great time.
They did the same thing on Saturday, but that night we had a going away dinner for their parents, since they were leaving in the morning, after they had breakfast at the hotel.That meant we’d also be saying goodbye to them tonight, so Brandon and I helped Dad fix a huge meal with a large roast for the occasion, and then we sat down to eat.
“I really appreciate that the eight of you took time off from work and other things so you could spend some time with us,” Dad said before we started eating.
“Having Christmas here is always such an amazing time,” replied Michael, “and it’s obvious that our kids enjoy it too.”
“Yes, this is like a holiday and a mini-vacation all rolled into one for the kids,” added Marie.“I wish we could do this every year.”
“Well, next year you’ll all be here for Thanksgiving, and although I can’t promise snow, I promise we’ll still have a good time.”
“Maybe we should all see if we can take off a couple of extra days that week too, so we can spend more time here,” suggested Robert.
“I wish we could,” responded Andrea, “but it depends on when the kids are available that week.They usually don’t get off from school for more than Wednesday and the rest of the week.”
“That’s right!I forgot about that since we don’t have children yet.”
“Then get working on it,” joked Adrian.
“We’ve been doing that,” replied Sarah, “but I’m afraid nothing has happened yet.”
“Then I hope it happens soon,” added Elizabeth.
Once dinner ended, we all said goodbye to them before they went back to the hotel.We gave them a little time alone to say goodbye to their children and give them a few parting words of advice, and then they headed out to their vehicles.
“Drive carefully and call me when you get home tomorrow,” Dad said as they were walking away.
“Come on, Dad.We’re not kids any longer,” replied Michael.
“You’ll always be my kids, so call me when you get back.”
No one argued with him this time as they got in their vehicles and drove away.It had been a wonderful Christmas holiday, and it wasn’t over yet!