I'm sure it goes without saying that Joel and I are loving being home for the holidays. This trip has been much more relaxing than Thanksgiving. We made very few plans for the course of our stay, which means we've spend lots of days lazing about in our comfy clothes and relishing the fact that we can sleep as late as we want.
We kept Christmas simple this year. Our festivities started at the Christmas Eve service at our family church where we do the traditional candle lighting ceremony as we sing "Silent Night" (my favorite part of the service each year) and were visited by "monks" (a group of children) who had taken a vow of silence who "sang" (by holding up signs) the "Hallelujah Chorus." It was such a fun way to kick off the holiday.
My mom decided to serve appetizers and drinks instead of a sit down meal this year, so Joel's family joined mine for some yummy treats on Christmas Day before we all headed to the movie theatre to watch Jack Reacher, which won the vote, much to my mother's dismay (she doesn't like violence).
To further simplify the holiday, we agreed not to exchange gifts, but after the movie, we went back to my parents' house for a grab bag exchange. I think Joel's family must think mine is a bunch of alcoholics after opening wine holders, cork screws, chillers, and even bottles of liquor! I mean, it's really hard to find grab bag gifts that work for both males and females of such varying ages. I guess everyone thought it was a safe bet!
After playing a few rounds of Awkward Family Photos (yes, it is a game now), we were all pretty exhausted and called it a night. Joel and I went upstairs to change into comfy clothes and never made it back downstairs. Instead, we snuggled into bed and talked about what a great day we had together.
I absolutely love that our families came together again to celebrate the holiday. That's really the only gift I need. :)