In the Johnson family we have a lot of traditions. We all LOVE tradition. Christmas Eve is dinner with Grandma Verna and church. Christmas Day is waking up early to open up presents and then spending the rest of the day with the Nobles and Relaz's. So even though we were all together in Denver this year instead of Chicago, we tried to incorporate a lot of the same traditions in the same ways. Mark and I stuffed stockings and put the pretty packages under the tree on Christmas Eve night after the boys were in bed. We never put any wrapped presents under the tree until then. It makes it that much more amazing on Christmas morning when they all magically appear!
I finally got our names stitched onto our stockings this year. My 1st and 2nd grade teacher, Ms. Oleson, did them!
The boys must have been EXHAUSTED because they actually slept in until their normal 7:15 a.m. wake up time! Last year they were up before the sun! This is a video of them coming down the stairs. It is kind of dark, but you'll get the jist.They rushed downstairs to see if Santa came. And he did! Grandma, Grandpa, and Uncle T. quickly joined us in the Living Room to watch the boys open their gifts.
Brooks wasn't feeling too hot, so we tried to feed him, change him, and cheer him up before getting started. But nothing was working. So we just got started with a cranky two year old.
Mark and I decided to just do stockings for each other and no gifts this year because we just bought a new t.v. for our bedroom on Black Friday. So we actually exchanged stockings on Christmas Eve night just the two of us, while we watched the Sing Off on our new t.v. Ha!
So we started with the boys' stockings first.
Heath's excitement was just the best! Look at that face! He couldn't contain it!
Daddy and the boys had picked up snowman donuts from Krispy Kreme the day before. So we tried to get them to have a little breakfast before stockings, but that didn't happen. They couldn't wait! So one at a time we watched them open their stockings. They loved all of their loot! And I love taking my time to shop for just the perfect things to put in them! Stockings are one of my favorite traditions.
Next we did the Kids Round of the Pickle Game! Another Johnson Family tradition. It comes from a German folktale that Santa hides a pickle ornament on the tree and whoever finds it first gets an extra gift. It was a quick round this year with no arguing! We are making improvements here people!
Heath technically found the pickle first, so he got to open an extra present!
But then Santa actually had an extra gift for all 3 boys. That Santa is sooo kind.
Ninja Turtle p.j.s for the big boys and a "Monsters University" DVD for Brooksie. We are trying to get him to sit for more than 2 minutes to watch t.v. I know that sounds terrible, but sometimes it is a nice break for Mama when the boys can all watch t.v. and I can get something done. Brooks just has no interest yet.
After the Pickle Game it was time for the other gifts. We do 3 gifts in our family. One from Santa, one from Mom & Dad, and one from the brothers. 3 gifts, just like baby Jesus received. It keeps things manageable. And we don't worry about monetary value- we don't spend the same amount on each child. We want the boys to grow up knowing that it is more about the giving than the receiving. And that giving a perfect, special, thoughtful gift is more important than how much you spend on it. Heath was so interested in what everyone received! Look at his face here...precious.
Brooksie got new Nikes, a football tee, and a baseball glove and ball.
Nolan got Turtles in Training, NFL football helmets, and Super Mario Brothers stuffed animals. Heath got Despicable Me 2, Olaf the snowman from "Frozen", and the Shellraiser.
Here are some videos of the boys opening up their gifts from Santa. Heath asked us every 2 minutes when he could open this particular gift, so when we finally told him it was time, he was THRILLED!
Nolan was funny because he noticed that the gift Santa gave him was in the same Amazon Prime boxes that had been being delivered to our house in the weeks prior. So observant. I'll have to be trickier in my packaging and wrapping next year. Although, I did think ahead and buy special "Santa" wrapping paper for only those 3 gifts.
You can see from this video how crabby Brooks was. Poor kid! He did perk up when he saw his "ball ball" or baseball!
They all got JUST what they wanted!
My Mom sneakily worked on making these hot pads with the boys for me. She made these with her students for them to give to their parents for Christmas as well. I love them! Thanks Grandma!
After gifts, we spent the rest of the day lounging at home, playing with toys, and waiting for Auntie and Uncy Flobby to arrive! Daddy and Nolan set up their football helmets, reviewing their names, choosing their favorites, and making their picks for each game that week.
Uncle T. helped Heath put all of the stickers on the Shellraiser.
And Grandpa played Super Mario Brothers with the boys. Then it was time for naps. They sure needed them!
While the boys napped my Mom baked and I got the dining room ready for dinner. I love my pretty new dining room. I bought gold chargers and we used my Great Grandmother Sophie's silver for this special day!
Uncle T. getting ready to carve the turkey! We don't have an electric carving knife, so we thought Brooks' new hand saw might do the trick. All those years watching the Lumber Jacks in Hayward, Wisconsin gave Tyler the training he needed for this task. YO HO! Ha!
Finally, Mal and Bob arrived with enough time to quickly wrap their gifts before dinner. We were so happy to all be together. Just missing Laura who would come 2 days later. Since I was still recovering from my surgery over Thanksgiving I didn't feel like I was able to really enjoy the food. So we made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner again for Christmas. And this time I pigged out! Yum!
The boys and Uncy Flobby! They loved joining the family at our fancy table.
My sister gave me a very special bottle of wine just before we ate! She asked me to be her Matron of Honor! Yay! I am so excited and honored!
What a blessing sisters are!
The labels she had made are adorable!
After we ate and got the meal cleaned up a bit it was time to do presents with the Johnson fam. Spreading out the gifts this year was such a good idea. They were able to be thankful for and to focus on each gift they got.
The boys each got a special gift from Mal and Bob as well.
Three handsome ring bearers will make an appearance at the Urbik wedding next October. They are so excited! Nolan is an expert as he was a ring bearer in my friend Becky's wedding when he was two. So he practiced walking to Flobby carrying a pillow to show his brothers how to do it!
And then Tyler and Mark were invited to be a part of the bridal party as well. GroomsmenThree brothers.
Then it was time for stockings...My mom always puts a Heath bar in Heath's stocking. He loves it!
The boys all had blue mouths from their ring pops!
Mark got a very nice gift in his stocking...Skull Santa boxer briefs! Ha! He gave everyone a show later that night with a streak through the house! That boy...always good for a laugh!
Another tradition is a scratch off lottery ticket in our stockings. Some of us won a couple of dollars and some of us lost, but it is always fun to scratch and see!
Nolan was so excited to get a new scooter from Grandma & Grandpa!
Brooksie got a bowling set.
Mark and Bob, without knowing it, gave each other the same cologne! Isn't this pose lovely?!
Nolan and Heath both got TMNT dream lights from Mal & Bob! They LOVE them!
Nolan opening up some gifts from Uncle T. Legos and Amelia Bedelia! They love collecting Lego Mini Figures and Uncle T. has helped add to their collection this Christmas!
Brooksie got a Wheelies Bat Cave from Mal & Bob, a cool OU sweatshirt and motorcycle from Uncle T. and Laura, and Monster Trucks and ramps from Grandma & Grandpa.
Heath got a Marble Run and the boys got Duplos too but I didn't seem to catch photos of those. Needless to say, everyone had a great night and we were all more than blessed by each other.
After all the gifts we had apple and cherry pie for dessert and the boys put their jammies on. We put Brooks to bed and then did our last Advent devotional with the whole family this time. The boys sang all three verses of "Away in a Manger". We had been working towards them confidently singing all three verses by themselves by Christmas and they did it! So sweet!
Then it was time for the adult round of The Pickle Game. Mark and I hide the pickle and then they all go for it! This year we used Oma Bosch's pickle that we had given her years ago. It is a little smaller and lighter green...not as flashy and harder to find than our original pickle that we use for the boys.
Mallory won again for like the 4th year in a row. She won some pickles of course and a Chipotle gift card too!
The boys happily went to bed with their Dreamlites in tow and then we all got comfy for some game playing! We played "Imaginiff" and laughed and laughed! We love playing fun games! We were just really missing Laura that night, but we added her name to the board and answered questions about her. Tyler texted her along the way to see what she would have answered!
On Friday morning Laura arrived bright and early to continue the Christmas festivities! Love the smiles in this pic!
Laura had a gift for each boy...Leo bath towels!
Nolan showing off his fighting moves!
They are so cute!
Thank you Laura!
Then we all had gifts for Laura as well...a pickle ornament...
and a Viszla Dog calendar. The boys were pointing out their favorite dogs on the back of the calendar. We can't wait to meet Laura's dog, Ellie, soon!
Mallory had a fun gift for Laura too...she's a bridesmaid!
We actually went bridesmaid dress shopping later that afternoon. My sister picked out a beautiful dress! Can't wait to wear it on her special day!
Here is the Johnson Family Christmas card photo! Just casual, but full of love! My mom's rule was always that you had to be engaged to be in the Christmas card pic. Little did we know that my brother and Laura would get engaged just a few days later! Bummer! But we are SO EXCITED to welcome Laura into our family. She is so fun and funny and thoughtful and she compliments my brother very well. She will be a SUPER aunt to our boys! And I'm so happy to have another sister! It will be a fun year with 2 weddings!
And here are all the kids! It feels so good to be adding on to our family in new ways...no baby this year (or ever again from us! ha!) but two new additions in Bob and Laura! (By the way, my Mom took this artsy shot! Ha! Love it!)
And I'll leave you with our digital Christmas Card this year...This verse really stuck out to me this year. It has been a year with a lot of ups and downs for our family and friends. We don't always understand how or why God works the way he does. But we do know that he works for GOOD in all things. He is wondrous and wonderful and always LOVING!
Merry Christmas! Warmly...The Jansen Family