Being parents of three small children all under the age of six (and hence all under the age of reason!), we decided it was wise to schedule our day around their nap time, so the evening mass and the following Christmas day activities wouldn't end in melt downs and temper tantrums (we learned from experience last year).
We spent the morning playing, cleaning and trying to find that elusive lightbulb on the tree that was burnt out and wrecking the whole string of lights... then after nap time we decorated our tree (or should I say that the parents decorated the tree while the kids played with the ornaments and Heather tried to eat it). Then we had dinner, got dressed and rushed off to church to find a seat in the very crowded church for the very special Christmas Eve mass. It was beautiful and grace-filled, and the children especially enjoyed sitting with Auntie Anna and Uncle Cameron who came with us. They also loved blowing kisses to baby Jesus in the nativity scene as we left for home.
At home we lit up our pretty tree for the first time, along with our white candles for our advent wreath, and read the Christmas Story together on the couch. A great start to a new tradition which can only get better (maybe next year we will be able to hear the story over the baby fussing, and the toddler getting off and on the couch in search of his trains and cars). After our night prayers together, the kids cuddled baby Jesus and laid him in the manger and then they went off to bed to wait for Saint Nicholas to come in the night with instructions from daddy that they were to wait for us before they went downstairs in the morning, and were not allowed to get up too early.
Which leads us to 4:00 a.m. the next morning when the little angels woke us up to wish us a very merry Christmas! They went back to sleep and got up later at a more respectable 6:00 and we made it downstairs before 6:30. They were very excited to see that Saint Nicholas had brought them stockings full of toys and candy in the night... and there were presents under the tree from mommy and daddy and others.
The morning was lots of fun with lots of smiles and screams from Elizabeth and Zachariah, and clapping of hands from Heather who was delighted with the gingersnap she got in her stocking. E was especially pleased with the Swan Lake Barbie and Prince that her great-aunt was clever enough to find on eBay for her, Zach is still playing with his 'mountain for Gordon' that mommy and daddy got him, and Heather looks so beautiful in all of her new clothes.
Later on in the day all of their grandma's and grandpa's came over, and we had a lovely feast complete with the turkey that is never quite done, homemade cranberry sauce, and pretty red and green veggies from grandpa Jack. After dinner we played a modified version of pictionary with the kids, then sent them to bed so we could eat apple pie and ice cream. What fun!!
My favorite part of the day was when Elizabeth, who was sitting at the table painting her new princess posters, looked up at me with this innocent and beautiful child's face and said "mommy, I just love Christmas time!".