our christmas.

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oh my goodness. christmas day. what a grand one. glorious hustle and bustle and sweet, quiet moments of reflection and revelry mixed in. it doesn't get much better than that.

i hope you enjoyed some scenes from our day. let me tell ya, pictures just don't do it justice. it is impossible to capture the grandeur and joy and warmth and tastes and happiness and fuzzies that were experienced. it was a good one.

we stayed with our regular schedule for the day and it made for a full day of family and fun. ben and i woke up early so that we could spend some time together, just us. those precious moments really make us feel like newlyweds again...and i hope that we can maintain our traditions, in some form or another. i cherish this time. we place our gifts for each other underneath the tree on christmas eve (we don't want to give away the surprise) and do them separately, trying to avert our eyes from the other gifts in the process. in the morning, the tree lights go on and the gifts are revealed. it is such fun. i just love giving gifts to my man. and my man is especially thoughtful at christmas. he picks out each gift and wraps them in some creative fashion. last year, he did this and this year, he bought maps from some of our favorite spots and future travel destinations (which also happened to coordinate with the contents of the box he was wrapping) and finished them off with lovely bows. he's the sweetest. and he absolutely gets the spirit of the season. such joy in giving to another. i love him.

anyway...we light candles and grab blankets so we can curl up on the floor together and let the messiah play in the background. and then, christmas morning mimosas! we clink and sip and relax for a bit before diving into presents. and those presents. what fun! new clothes and shoes and socks and candy and jewelry and perfume and skincare and nail polish and such. may i just say that mast brothers chocolate is incredible. and quin candy. woah. ben finds such gems. i am a spoiled lady.

after gifts were opened and we cleaned things up, it was time to get ready and bring out the gifts for elinor. we continued the tradition of giving her something to wear - something to read - something you want - something you need. it is a great way to ease her into things and let her enjoy each present without overwhelming her. after all, there are two more stops to go! and two sets of grandparents... PLUS santa. this kid wasn't going to have a gift shortage issue...

elinor received her christmas pajamas on christmas eve so she rocked those all day. it was great. she also received some other clothing items (need) and some freshly picked moccs (wear) and a pride and prejudice baby lit book (read) and a fabulous play kitchen (want). she was so happy about each gift and that smile was too much. while we got things ready for the day, elinor played with her kitchen and whipped up some tasty convocations of carrots and mushrooms and salt and eggs. she was telling us all about it and having a blast. it is a great addition to our home. i hope she has so much fun with it for years. i know we have fun watching her. AND now she has something to do while mama and papa are busy in the kitchen. perfect.

around 9am, we loaded the car to head to ben's folks' house. elinor sported her pajamas and we wore some new items plus our slippers. mine were new from ben so they were extra special.

we spent the morning at the whitehouse house. we opened stockings and ate cookies and kringle (as appetizers) before we settled in and got down to the business of gift opening. presents are the best. we love shopping for our family and giving them something fun on christmas. and we were so spoiled, especially elinor. baby dolls and toys and books and all kinds of trinkets. and then, breakfast. ben made english muffins and brought them to use for eggs benedict. it was incredible. and there is a chance that even after all the sweets, i managed to eat three whole english muffins. well, it's not like i was getting to eat them again later! and after days of watching them begging made and smelling them as they cooked, i needed a solid fix.

after breakfast and a bit of chatting and relaxing, it was back in the sleigh and away to my parents' house. christmas morning number three!

we were greeted by a snowball fight and an inflated snowman which elinor was so excited about. snowmen are kind of her favorite, right now. and then, we settled in. we arranged the final presents, we put food away to enjoy later, we got elinor's supplies situated. then we surveyed the scene. presents piled. overflowing stockings. and our annual letter from santa. what a guy. such kind words and such generosity.

stockings were opened and we shared our goods. and let me tell you, santa is even over-the-top with the contents of the stockings. i'm sure elinor (and the rest of us) could have been happy campers with just those stockings. but, why stop there? wink.

this year, instead of doing a them for each person, we decided to simplify the shopping a bit (life is crazy and baby sawyer was going to arrive in the middle of prime shopping time so, we wanted to plan accordingly to keep it festive and easy for all) and mix it up: themes for couples! each couple was given a theme by the other two couples and then they would go shopping accordingly. on the big day, the couple would open the gifts and a big part of the fun is trying to guess their collective theme based on the gifts. it was super fun.

2014 themes:

bree and paul "glamping"

mom and dad "the 12 days of christmas"

ben and rachel "swanky and dapper"

so great. i won't go into all the gifts but let me just say that everyone did a great job. so much creativity and thoughtfulness! and, it makes the budget stretch further too. you have to be mindful of each gift and make sure they are a perfect theme fit. plus, plus! you get to get in extra shopping dates with family during the season. i highly recommend it.

the little ones were an entirely separate thing. and boy, were they showered in gifts. after all that fun, and a long and quite stimulating day, elinor was looking pretty glazed over. she was powering though but was delirious. so, we took a break before the final kiddo gifts were given and put the littles down for a quick catnap. elinor snuggled into her little bed right away and power napped for a solid hour while the adults opened a few final gifts from santa and my parents...and, while ben prepared dinner. i was already so full. from the generosity of loved ones and of course, from the morning carb-a-palooza. but, when the aroma of lasagna hits the nostrils, it is amazing how hungry you get... plus, ben had been torturing me with that sauce for the last two days. he cooked it up for a solid three hours a few nights before christmas and it is killer. meat and garlic and cheese and wine. i couldn't wait to dig in. and when you add that to noodles and mozzarella and béchamel, magic.

we opened a bottle of fancy-schmany wine and served up the rich, melty goodness of that lasagna. and my mom's perfect pom salad. such a feast. everyone at the table went back for extra helpings because, you gotta. about two minutes into serving, elinor squawked from the other room. we were going to let her snooze for a bit longer so we could enjoy a part of the meal as just the adults and so she could power up for the final stretch but, that intoxicating lagansa aroma. she was onto us and ready to go! she joined us at the table and went for it.

dinner was finished. we were full. and we all gathered for one final gift. a playhouse for elinor. a beautiful playhouse for elinor. i was so excited about it! what fun we would have playing house together. but of course, in true child fashion...all she wanted was the box. she climbed in and played "jack-in-the-box" and entertained us all. silly girl. and not to worry, mom and dad. she is obsessed with the dollhouse now. she gets it. now that that AMAZING box is out of the picture :)

to wrap things up, we enjoyed some sticky toffee pudding (which i currently want more of) and before gathering up all the goods and heading home. wow.

ben and i chatted and recounted the events of the day on the drive home. we laughed and counted our blessings. once home, elinor crashed and her parents crashed on the couch for some final moments together. just reveling in the joy of the day and maybe eating a few final sweets to top it all off. because, christmas.

and for the grandparents and nonnie adele - and anyone else who is interested in cuteness - i have posted a couple of videos here and here of elinor on christmas morning. enjoy!