I read aloud The Hobbit to while away the time in the car. It's a good book for traveling, because during most of the story, the hobbit and the dwarves are on a long journey, usually on foot, taking months to get where they're going, and fraught with dangers at every turn, so it puts our happy, safe little trip into perspective. I read chapters 1-6 on the way up and chapters 7-19 on the way back home. Not sure how my voice held out for that, but it did.
It was so fun to see Rosie and Mike, see their new house for the first time, meet their doberman puppy Ava, and do all the things we have longed to do together. I hadn't seen Rosie since she got married a year and a half ago. Ah! It was so good to catch up, to go back and have that instant connection with her that I've always had, to talk, cook together, play games together, and sing together.
James dazzled us with his illustrious pool skills
We played lots of Seafarers scenarios of Settlers of Catan
We completed a 550-piece puzzle in record time.
And we snacked on yummy Wisconsin cheese. Mmmmm.
Making Chai tea!
Ava sports her Christmas present, a waterproof overcoat
One of the best parts of the trip was the Christmas party at the Walkers and then Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. The Walker family is incomparable. They are so loving, warm, hospitable, and amazing.
This has got to be the happiest kitchen in America. Or on Planet Earth. Not exaggerating.
How's that for a Christmas Eve dinner place setting?
Such a privilege to spend my Christmas Eve with these people!
If you've been here, you know what a good time we all must have been having.
Almost ready to eat!
The lovely tree
After dinner, we all "went to bed." We lay down in the bedrooms, turned the lights out, and got quiet. Soon, what was our surprise when we heard a jolly "Ho-ho-ho!" and a loud ringing of sleigh bells! We all raced downstairs to the tree and found that Santa had left in such a hurry, he had forgotten his glove on the mantlepiece. The kids were absolutely delighted. They kept putting the glove on and taking it off, feeling the soft black leather and turning it over and over in their hands.
We took turns telling the Christmas story, each person adding a portion and then naming another person who would tell the next part. The kids listened and I enjoyed the personalized retelling of the story in each person's own words.
Then we opened gifts. We took turns, going youngest to oldest, with each person opening one gift at a time. I received an orange mug, some orange dark chocolate, an orange dress, and a beautiful silver bracelet. Score! Best Christmas gifts ever!