To raise a family.
But what does it take to raise 3 families?
(3 quite crazy families I might add)
I'll tell you.
It takes a whole lot of food, spirituality, talent, and traditions.
For the past 20+ years the Ortons, Adams, and Staples have been getting together
every Christmas Eve for a progressive dinner.
It all starts at the Ortons.
Where we dish up on Elizabeths delish bread
three yummy soups
And if you're lucky the Staples might even be on time.
Then it is off to the Adams for a Nativity.
Not just any nativity.
It is hand written
and hand sewn.
You've never seen anything like it!
With over 30 costumes this Nativity is certain to impress.
For as long as I can remember I have been an Angel in the Nativity.
By the time you are 18 this starts to get quite embarrassing
but don't you worry our parents have a nice little bribe for all of us adults.
You get married -
you don't have to dress up like a two year old.
I am proud to say that this year I was upgraded from Angel to Narrator.
It was a big moment for me and Melissa.
Michael vowed this was his last year dressing up like a wise man.
And Christian and Aaron tried to hide in the back.
Our adult numbers are dwindling as the number of children begins to multiply.
And naturally the Grandma's couldn't be more happy.
Henry played the role of Baby Jesus so well.
He was a trained actor in my opinion.
And as you can see Adam played the role of...
Well... I am still not exactly sure what that costume was but he was pretty stinkin adorable as always!
And Linley made a lovely cow.
I wish I had pictures of all the little ones.
I could hardly believe how happy they all were in their costumes.
No tears at all this year.
A Christmas miracle for sure.
The four newlyweds.
This year we were privileged to have Grandma Ora, Grandma Marsha, and Gran Ann and Grandpa Bud with us.
This is one of my favorite photos because as we were getting all dressed up for the big night I found Derek and James plopped on the couch
Smart phones out
in their jeans and polos.
I begged and pleaded with both of them to change into their Christmas sweaters.
But with Baby Henry in the home our house was kept near 98.6 degrees at all times
(this may be a slight exaggeration - but you get the point)
After a little begging and pleading by me and Mary we found these
two plopped on the couch
Christmas sweaters on
sweat beading down their faces.
I am so glad they came to their senses.
One of my favorite parts about going home for the holidays is getting to hang out with all the little ones.
We spent hours staring at Henry.
I laughed my guts out when Will would smash his face against the window and make faces at me.
And I got to babysit Adam for a night - which pretty much made my trip!
After the festivities at the Adams we head to our house for dessert and a talent show.
As my Dad pointed out at the talent show
many of our little bands and talents formed simply out of the fact that we were all forced into doing a talent on Christmas Eve.
When we were little we spent months preparing for this big moment.
And now the next generation is taking over the tradition.
While our Christmas Eve program may seem a little silly to some -
it is truly the best part of Christmas for most of us.
This year it especially meant a lot to me for two reasons.
Last year my parents skyped in from the hospital.
Rather than finishing off the evening with "Bad Bad Leroy Brown"
he was kicking it in the hospital trying to get that heart pumping.
Last year I wondered if he would ever get to come to the Christmas program again.
And this year, not only was he there
but he was pounding out the tunes and happier than ever.
What a blessing.
And of course
for the first time in my life I brought a boy to the festivities.
I remember at one point James looked at me and said,
"Wow, this is really cool!"
While I know he was missing his own family traditions
he was also starting to see the beauty in mine.
Just as I will see the beauty in his next year.
It was a really strange feeling as I looked at my best friends
who are now starting families of their own
I thought how exciting it is that now we are creating our own little village
to raise our families.
With a little food, spirituality, talent, and traditions
I know the second generation will carry on the little Christmas Eve experience for years to come
(with a little help from the first generation of course)
Thanks to the wonderful mothers of our little village