What I did not take photos of:
- The Hodos' amazing Christmas display. If you've never seen one of those houses that do Christmas lights on a major scale, you're missing out.
- Every time we went to Wal-mart. It's like some unwritten rule--every single time we visit my family in Arkansas, we end up at Wal-mart every. Single. Day. Once we bought hot chocolate mix there. Once we bought batteries. We bought me a knit cap, because I forgot mine in Indiana. We bought a flask for my kid cousin, before I double-checked and realized that he's actually TWENTY, not twenty-one (We gave it to him anyway, but NOT filled with hard liquor as in the original plan. Next year, Slick!).
- The gallows. Also required visiting in Ft. Smith. I have photos of me and my friends at the gallows on my wedding day. I'm not in my wedding dress, though... although in retrospect, I totally should have been!
- Pie. Matt, the girls, and I may have accidentally eaten an entire pumpkin pie before Christmas. Once I learned that Papa had made TWO pumpkin pies this year... well, it was inevitable.
- Christmas Eve pizza dinner. We got take-out from a different place this year, a place that clearly did not get the memo that in Arkansas, Hawaiian Delight pizza has maraschino cherries on it! HELLLLLOOO! Also, my baby cousin still eats Parmesan cheese straight, just like she did as a toddler.
- Santa stomping across the roof for the kids to hear. I've mentioned before that in previous years this event has driven Syd to hysterical tears, and frankly, it IS terrifying--Santa sounds like he's an inch over your head and is about to fall on top of you and kill you dead--but this year Syd was more than half asleep by the time Santa arrived, and as we hear the tremendous noise, and I brace myself for what seems like the inevitable fall and many broken bones, all she says is, "Be more quiet, Santa, please. Thank you," as if she was correcting her noisy sister, who, incidentally, was already asleep. A few minutes later, when Santa departs with much jingling, Will, too, is momentarily awakened. I hear her exclaim, "Sleigh bells!", and then she's back asleep, too.
- Syd finding a fallen sleigh bell on the sidewalk the next morning. She put it on the collar of her favorite stuffed animal and carries it nearly everywhere, which is weird, since it's clearly broken--I can't hear it make a sound.
- Will's brand-new stunt pogo stick. It's big enough for me to ride. I'm learning to pogo, y'all!
- My Aunt Pam's serious Christmas dinner spread, particularly the epic highlights of that dinner: cranberry salad and deviled eggs.
- Me watching the Doctor Who Christmas Special that evening (my Papa has cable!), wearing jammy pants and my new Doctor Who T-shirt (from the kids), eating leftover cranberry salad and deviled eggs. Food of the gods, I tell you.
- Riding the Christmas train at the local park. It's a miniature train, my friends. A TRAIN! Textbook magical.
What I did take photos of:
Pre-Christmas chatting with Santa. These kids rolled a +12 Innocence and Childhood Wonder and Sweetness that day. Ever since I took this photo, I've been looking at it whenever the kids pull their usual crap to remind me that they're actually adorable quite often. Just not when they're pulling their usual crap.
Christmas morning. I was *trying* to get a photo of that sweet mixture of excitement and nervous anticipation on Will's face as we get ready to go see what Santa left them, but Syd's also behind her pulling her usual crap. Just remember that picture with Santa, Julie!
Giant set of Darda racetracks. This was a freakin' Christmas win!!! The kid have played with this thing more hours than not since Christmas morning.
Syd's face as she watches Matt open his present from her, a scarf that she and her sister sewed for him themselves. I guess I'll keep her, even though she does throw those rabbit ears around when I'm trying to take pictures.
Two new Girl Scouts! And yes, it's clear that Syd has no idea what a Girl Scout is. Or does. Or whether or not she salutes her mother.
Will chose a remote-controlled snake for her sister's present. Syd adores it. It gives me the willies.
Matt's Christmas sweater. My mama gave this sweater to Matt for Christmas the year before she died. Bless her heart, who knows what she was thinking--Deer? Really?--but Matt beamed when he opened it, told her he loved it, wore it the entire day (in that over-heated Arkansas house, no less), and has worn it all day, Christmas day, every Christmas since. I see my Mama in that ugly sweater every Christmas, and I see that good man I married, who's happy to wear an ugly sweater in her memory.
We are deep in the land of Staycation this week--my favorite place! There's a lot of hot chocolate with Bailey's here in this land, a lot of swimming in the YMCA's indoor pool, a lot of playing video games, a LOT of novel reading, a lot of baking of delicious things.
A lot lot LOT of happiness here, too, of course, but I bet you could have guessed that.