We rolled into Winston-Salem before suppertime on Christmas Eve, and we immediately turned Grayson's sister's house into a complete zoo.
I'd love to tell you that when we enter a private home, there is essentially no change to either the decibel level or general cleanliness of said home. BUT THAT WOULD BE A LIE.
We are a force of nature that will not be denied.
As much as the kids would love to have slept there (on couches, on cots, in beds, UNDER beds, WHEREVER), we were staying around the corner at Grayson's dad's condo. So as the night wore on, I pulled out the kids' brand-new Christmas Eve PJs (an annual tradition), took their picture in front of one of Debbie's 32 decorated trees, and then we headed over to Rudy's to turn in for the night.
On Christmas morning, we got back to Debbie and Gerry's house as early as we could manage. (It wasn't THAT early.) (But it was before 9:00, so that's early in my book.)
Please feel free to Pin the image below. This is how I presented our kids' Christmas gifts. Giant red stockings with an unwrapped T-shirt folded on top of each one.
The first thing Amelia pulled out of her stocking was her Minnie Mouse sunglasses. She liked them a little bit.
It wasn't at all problematic that she wanted to walk around with it fully extended for the next four hours in a room full of 13 people and approximately 492 gifts. Didn't get in the way at all.
The kids were so happy to get to see him, and each of them climbed up on his bed to give him big hugs. He didn't hate it.
Did we take the kids out there in their PJs? Sure. Christmas Day. Figured no one would care. And if they did, they forgot about it as we walked through the halls with Jake wishing everyone "Mewwy Kwissmuss!" as we passed by. BLESS.
After a nice visit with Rudy, we headed back to Debbie and Gerry's house for the kids to spend Quality Time with each other.
There was Quality Time happening ALL OVER THE PLACE.
One of my favorite moments of the day was finding Abby and Amelia playing in the guest bedroom together.
And Jonah came in to play, too!
(Do you know our sweet grand-nephew Jonah? If you're new here, Jonah has Epidermolysis Bullosa, and you can learn more about Jonah and EB on his mom Patrice's blog here.)
I think I neglected to mention that in Grayson's family, Christmas MORNING is reserved for stockings. Christmas AFTERNOON is saved for wrapped gifts. So after lunch, we started up again.
(And that tan blur back there by Jonah? That's G. He's also Matt and Patrice's and has been for two years, but it's not official yet so I have to blur his face for a little while longer.)
This part lasted a few more hours, because they like to open one gift per person at a time, going from youngest to oldest or something like that. Quite frankly, we're lucky we finished before I started writing this blog post.
The night after Christmas, we all went out for pizza in neighboring High Point, where Heather and Adam live. Here are all the cousins on Heather and Adam's front porch -- and yes, this is the best out of about 30 that I took. RIDONK.
It was great to sit and chat with everyone for a few hours while the kids ran around outside, playing Capture the Flag or something -- WHAT MATTERS IS THAT THEY WEREN'T INSIDE.
Heather and Adam.
Kim and Tiffany.
Chris and me.
Pam and Grayson.
Patsy, Gerry and Debbie.
Gary, Andrew and Bill.
It's actually pretty cruel of me to show you these tiny glimpses of Heather's house. You guys would LOVE it. I should've arranged with her to go over early and take pictures of it from top to bottom.
Maybe next year!