Monday, December 19, 2011

The Gathering

This weekend Jack and I headed out to Chicago for our annual Family Christmas get together with my clan. We had great weather going and coming home. Saturday we woke up to a surprise snow fall...just a few inches to bring on the Christmas mood. The party was being held at my Nephew Bill's new home. It has the perfect floor plan for a gathering of our size. They have the best toy room where most of the little ones spent time enjoying themselves. But before I get into the party mode, I just have to show you the delish surprise I received on Thursday from my friend Darlene...(Grandma Robbins Nest). She sent me a wonderful Danish pastry that she makes for her family. I was blown away that she would think of us and send it all the way from California. Bloggers are just the best people! When I opened the box it smelled so she had just baked it that morning and brought it personally to my home...I'm surprised the mailman didn't eat it! I took it with us to share with my Mom and Sis...they loved it too and were so surprised that she would do this. So here's a pic of Mom and I and Jack too, enjoying this for breakfast. We warmed it up and gobbled it down. Thanks again Darlene! On the way to Chicago Jack gave me my Christmas present early...a new camera! I was so surprised and excited! I really think he was tired of me chattering the whole way..I should say I was complaining about work..and he sprung it on me. So that kept me occupied for a long time. Now I just need to learn how to use it and all the knobs and gizmos...hopefully I'll get better pics soon. These are just a small example and I haven't truly gotten the hang of it yet.
Looks who gets the last piece...I think it was all that was left after we were done!
All gone! It was so yummy! Thanks so much are the best!
After breakfast we did a little running around and gathering all the last minute items for the party. We headed over to Bill's and the fun began! Before all the craziness begins, it's good to get some classic Jack, Me and Mommo.
Me and my Grandkiddo Sophie...
Me and Mom..
The party started at 3pm with appetizers first...everyone was to bring an appetizer and a dessert. The rest of the meal was taken care of. Here's our son Craig catching up with Jack.
My nephew has a heated garage that connects to the house and it was the perfect place to set up for dinner. My Sister helped to decorate and set up the tables. Nice job Midge! She also made most of the food...maybe all of it...she's incredible.
After dinner there was a visit from a special guest. The kids were so happy to see him!
This was the first time my #2 Son and his family were able to attend this annual get together. They move around the country because of his job and it just worked out great this year that they could be there. The kids enjoyed being with cousins they've only seen a few times and they really loved Santa!
One last group shot with the BIG MAN himself and it was off to the North Pole. My Grandson Taylor realized after Santa went upstairs to leave that this would be the perfect time to see the sleigh. He made a running start to the stairs yelling: "Hey, I want to see the sleigh!"...he was caught mid way up the stairs and told that Santa needed to really be on his way...some things just need to be kept a secret. I love that he believes so completely....just like me.
After Santa left we had the adults get together for the traditional "White Elephant" gift exchange. Every year we gather our "not so great" items we may have hanging around the house, or gifts that were not our favs, or just plain silly things and wrap them up for this fun gifting time. We pull numbers and take a gift in numerical order. If you like a previous gift you can steal it from that person and they have to repick one. I never knew how much bad taste we had in our family until this tradition was started. Here's my daughter-in-law Amy picking out her gift.
Zoom in on that shirt...if you dare.
Nice Katie.
After all the gifts are opened, fought over, traded...this is what you get.
We had a great time and really enjoyed seeing family again. I have more pics to share and a fun video I was trying to just would not download..but I'll try again and get it on the blog. Now the count down is on to truly finish all the preparation, final shopping, cooking, cleaning...whew..the race is on! But the fun can still continue! I'll be excited to capture every moment with the new camera...and my family will be so happy to keep posing and smiling I'm sure...maybe!


acorn hollow said...

What a wonderful gathering. It looks like everyone had a good time. so nice to share the holidays with the family.

Stacy Crawford said...

How fun. I love the white elephant for the older folks, we just gave up after everyone got married to many to buy. But one, white elephant...oh the possibilities.

Donna said...

What a fun surprise from that thoughtful Darlene...that's amazing! That party looks like it was loads of fun. Wish I could have gone to Chicago with you. I have Chicago envy. Your mom looks great! So do the cute Craig family members! It's always wonderful to reconnect... A good start to the holiday season!

Sue said...

Always knew my mom thought you were pretty special, but now I know you truly rate with her.

Pretty yummy stuff, huh? I hope you followed her directions and heated it up with a little pat of butter on top.


PS. You oughta taste one of those things SOO (straight out of the oven)!

Kim said...

That looks like so much fun. How lucky Santa was able to make time during his "busiest" season! Loved the dinner in the garage. It looked lovely.
PS The shirt....I snorted out loud) hahaha

Munir said...

Sophie is adorable and so is your Mom. You are a very good daughter. I am so glad that you guys have fun times like these. Memories can be made and kids get to know each other. i have been begging my husband to visit his brother in Chicago. Sounds like a great city.

Darlene said...

I think it is absolutely fabulous that your family has such a great Christmas get together. I loved Santa too. Your pictures were all super! I especially loved the one of all the children in a sort of a vee formation. In the earlier pictures, you and your Mom looked so neat in your red and black. You truly did have a great weekend!!

The white elephant gift exchange sounds fun. I've heard of that tradition before. We all get together and have "circle time" and have a great new Christmas Story written by Sue after which she asks us a question that is from the story, something spiritual that is also expressing personal feelings about her choice of subject and we all go around the circle and everyone answers. It can be very emotional, but one of the great things that we do whenever we get together for either Christmas or Thanksgiving. We even have circle time when we go to Newport Beach for her family reunion with her immediate family in July! Needless to say, Sue's Christmas story is a highlight for us always, no matter where we spend Christmas.

Aren't family traditions wonderful?

Darlene said...

Forgot to say that I'm glad you enjoyed the Danish! I was hoping it would get there in time to not get stale.

Z said...

What a brilliant party. Lovely to share it!

Michelle My Bell said...

What a blessing to be with loved ones creating new memories together. I enjoyed your pictures, what fun for everyone :)

Bonnie said...

"Santa!!! I know him." - Seriously, "Elf" is the best.Christmasmovie.ever. No lie.
It looks like you guys had a great time. :)
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Grandma Yellow Hair said...

Honey you need to yap more when your in the car with Jack he gives you great gifts. hahaha
Darlene is a sweetheart and I love her. Glad she sent you some of her goodies.
You are a beautiful lady and I think your pictures are great.
Glad you posted all of these for us to see your neat get together

Amy and Craig said...

It was fun that we finally made it after all these years of missing it! Sounds like you guys had a Merry Christmas at home yesterday too! I loved getting to go to church for an hour on Christmas morning.