We were so looking forward to our Christmas in California with family! We calculated that it had been about 10 years since we’d spent Christmas with our extended family and we were excited for the opportunity.
It was a long trip from London to California, but the excitement never ceased the entire way. And then we got to Grandma and Grandpa’s . . . . our room was stocked with all the gifts that were waiting for us to wrap. Thank goodness for Amazon!
Of course, crossing all those time zones in one day isn’t an easy feat. A few of us gave in to the urge to sleep whenever or wherever it hit us.
Hannah at the Dining Room Table
There were a few things on our ‘to do’ list before things got too hectic . . .
Number one – a visit to Target!
I can’t tell you enough how many times I wish we had a Target in London! But, it makes it all the more enjoyable to visit one when we are in the states.
Number Two - a lunch out at In-n-Out. So worth it!
We had a couple days of grandparents to ourselves and then our newest cousin arrived from Utah. He isn’t very ‘new’ anymore, but he was still new to us as it was the first time meeting him. The kids loved playing with ‘Little’ Chris.
Hannah and ‘Little’ Chris
With all the fun family excitement, Grandma treated all the girls to a night out at The Nutcracker. A few of us may or may not have fallen asleep during the performance (that darn jet lag), but it was a fun night out!
Christmas Eve finally arrived and we had a busy day lined up! After a morning of last minute errands, we made sure to be back to Grandma & Grandpa’s in time for a visitor, delivered by the local fire truck.
Firetruck Coming to Us
Cami was the only brave one to go up to Santa for a little talk . . . of course, she was also first in line! Sometimes it is nice when Grandma and Grandpa live right next to the neighborhood park!
Cami with Santa
After our fun visit with Santa, it was time to get to work! We had hundreds of luminaries to get set out before dusk. It had been years since we helped with luminaries, so Grandpa was very patient in giving detailed instructions at each step.
Filling the Bags with Sand
Demonstrating How to Place the Candles Inside Bags
I think the kids’ favorite part of the whole process was getting to walk around with fire to light the candles in the bags.
It was a long process, but seeing all the luminaries lining the streets and driveways throughout the subdivision, made it all worth it!
Once it was sufficiently dark, we all piled in the car and drove around the subdivision to see the light displays. There is always one light display that tops all the others. You can always tell you are getting close because of the backlog of cars slowing to a crawl to see all the fun lights and cartoon cutouts they have displayed.
Christmas Light Displays
Our fun evening was far from over. Grandma had a fun line-up for us. We started with the Nativity story. It was great to have more people to participate so that we didn’t have to double up on roles, as we normally do.
The Nativity Cast
Our next activity was learning how to play pipe chimes. The boys had cut all the chimes earlier in the week and Grandma had found the music for them. It took us a couple songs to get it down, but by the end, I think our chime choir was quite good!
Homemade Chime Choir
To finish the evening off, we sang carols in the library. It was a fun evening spending time with family and concentrating on the real reason for Christmas.
Before the kids went to bed, they made a plate for Santa as well as a letter. However, their letter was more of a questionnaire. They asked for his autograph, what it was like in the North Pole, how he got up and down the chimneys, what his favorite color was, and what vegetable his reindeers like . . . . I guess it gave him something to do while he was nibbling on his treats.
Santa’s Cookies and Note
Christmas morning came with excitement. Thankfully it didn’t come too early as the kids were still trying to get their sleep pattern down to the right time-zone.
Christmas Morning Stockings
I love that Santa wraps our stocking gifts so that the surprises are drawn out. We each took turns unwrapping one stocking gift and then going to the next person.
After stockings were done, it was time to eat some breakfast and clean up the luminaries from the night before. Once that was all done, it was time to continue the festivities with the tree and the gifts under it.
The kids came in cautiously, not knowing what they would find. But, the excitement they had when they saw what they received was so much fun!
Cami with her PhotoBarbie
Caleb with his iPad Mini
It was so great to spend time with family for the holidays. Being far away makes us appreciate these special times even more.
Christmas with the Cousins