Despite being stuck out here in the Great Snowless Central Valley, we had a really good Christmas. I did have to leave the room a few times when the weather in Colorado came on the news this past week, because it was simply depressing to hear about all that snow and look outside where there are still flowers blooming. I've decided I suffer from a weird sort of reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. Eating copious amounts of peppermint helped only a little but Christmas cheer found us nonetheless. It helped to keep a really big surprise: Aunt Katherine and Uncle Ben hitched a ride on Santa's sleigh!
What could be more fun than realizing that two of the world's most fun aunts and uncles are sleeping in the guest room? We didn't tell Maddie and Gracie that Katherine and Ben were planning to drive up late on Christmas Eve to surprise them, and on Christmas morning it was sure fun to watch Maddie try and figure out why there were two extra stockings and a weird pair of shoes by the door (did Santa Claus leave his shoes?? did Ella get a stocking? No wait, that would only account for five). [special note to Maddie: Ella will get a stocking... NEVER.] Interestingly enough, Aunt Katherine woke up at 5:00 am, wondering why the rest of the house wasn't up and raring to go. Maddie finally figured out the mystery at about 7:10.
After much rejoicing and hoopla about their surprise arrival, we got down to business. Santa wraps special request gifts, so we all got to watch Gracie open her scary monster.
What you can't tell from the blurry second photo is that Gracie whipped that scary monster as far away from her as she could the second she saw what it was. We had to remind her that it was, in fact, what she had requested Santa bring her—that and the elephant beside her, which was a huge hit—but at first, she didn't want to have anything to do with him. We are happy to report that Gracie has warmed up to her scary monster (and the other one clever Aunt Marie gave her) and sleeps on top of them, demanding her blanket be spread carefully over everyone.
Maddie, a.k.a. one of the weirdest kids we know (though this isn't any surprise—remember, this is the little girl who once asked for lima beans and water for snack) was absolutely, positively overjoyed by her two new turtleneck sweaters: a blue one and a red and pink stripey one. (Going for the easy gift, we also got her two regular turtlenecks, which she was also overjoyed about). She also received a boat and a notebook, great hits as well.
Many other wonderful gifts were opened, including the watch Matt has wanted for a long time—the one that's made out of old Soviet ICBMs. There was a huge amount of panic on my part when I ordered it at the beginning of December, because I didn't realize it was ACTUALLY COMING FROM RUSSIA. I thought it was coming from an American distributor, so when it showed up three days before Christmas I was very, very relieved.
Oh, and I got a new camera. A 5D. And a flash, which was practically free because of the excellent Canon rebate that's running through January 13. You could say I was pretty excited.
We did what we Willises do best when hanging out together: we read, we took naps, we played games (including Wildebeest, an old Maddie and Aunt Katherine favorite), we ate lots of breakfast. One of our gifts was the Book Lover's Trivial Pursuit from Katherine and Ben—which they won the night we played, though it should be pointed out that they got questions about Amy Tan and J.K. Rowling and Roald Dahl and we got questions about books like The Return of Zenda and obscure Ann Rule titles. Hmph. It was fun anyway, and we're ready for a rematch anytime. Anytime at all.
There are many, many more stories to tell, but that's the end of the stories for 2006. Night-night.