Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Christmas Story - Part 2

The second important phase of our great big, week-long Christmas party is the gift giving and receiving.

Part 1 of this phase is pretty conventional. We do a gift exchange where everyone draws names except Mr. Right and I. On Christmas shopping day, the children open their gifts from this exchange before our big outing to ensure that they don't duplicate these gifts later in the day.

This picture didn't get everybody in but it gives you an idea of the atmosphere and the sheer numbers. I don't think there's anything much more fun than watching kids open presents. Oh, except maybe watching them pick them out.

They also open their one wrapped gift from us which is always a garment that is to be worn in the group pictures. This year I visited Columbia.com and purchased 38 jackets ranging in size from mens 4X to baby girls 6 mos.

Here's how those pictures turned out.

The kids


After the present opening, we all packed up and headed for Valparaiso to have lunch at the Industrial Revolution. Picking up the tab for these 37 people is one of our gifts to the kids - pretty easy shopping right there.

We went here last year too and it was very enjoyable mainly because of the ambiance and the train that periodically runs around the entire restaurant at ceiling level. This year, however, neither the atmosphere nor the train could make up for the giant 'failboat' in service and food quality. From the time the first meal was served until the last one arrived was one solid hour. I realize we're a large group but if they couldn't handle it, they should not have taken the reservation.

After the very long lunch, we headed to Target where all the kids did their own Christmas shopping. We gave them a price limit of between $25 and $30 and they pick out the present or presents that they want. It all goes into our shopping carts and the kids won't see their gifts again until the presentation back at the house.

The next order of the day is the bribe. Nobody gets the gift that they picked out until we get the family picture. The cooperation level is incredible.

Beth started setting it up with assistance from Dan. She started with one.

And then children (and young adults) were strategically added.

Even the younger ones were patient and attentive.

Almost ready!

Add game faces and insert babies.

Finally, insert oldest granddaughter and sweet, young mother. And there you have it!

Now the gift presentation. An adult, usually Uncle Dan if he's not deployed, holds up an item at random and announces what it is. The owner claims it to applause and appreciation for his or her great choice.

And while we shopped, Harry and I grabbed a couple of the necessities that keep the Christmas House running smoothly all week.

This was a long post loaded with pictures but I wanted to share the experience. And most of all I wanted to remember it. I wanted to remember my pride in these beautiful children - how patient and fair and sharing and loving to one another they are. How from the oldest to the youngest everybody interacts.

And I wanted to share the fun. The week in the Christmas house is a joyous one and I hope this shows some of the reasons why.

But most of all I don't want to forget one facet of the week so I'm writing it all down. And I hope everybody that reads this will enjoy it as much as me.


  1. I love reading these post soooo much. It's like reliving it all over again. I love love love all of the pictures, there could never be too many!! I'm already looking forward to the next one! Thanks so much!

  2. These posts/recaps are THE BEST! I love the little kids sitting and looking patient and angelic and waiting perfectly. These pictures and the week there are what memories are made of. I sat here and smiled throughout the entire post. Bravo!

  3. I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS POST!!! The pictures in Target were my favorite. You could really see how joyful everyone us (well, except the other unsuspecting shoppers int he toy department wondering where in the heck the large crowd came from) :) !!!! This was great, nice job capturing the week, mom!


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