With thanks in our hearts and a warming sun over our heads we paused to give thanks on this
What a busy Christmas Season this was as the families came together to celebrate the Birth of our Savior.
Our 1st Grandchild Thor, celebrating his 1st Christmas, was literally in "Gift Shock" as wave upon waves of presents were showered on him. Most of them seemed to come from that Budget Busting Grandmamum of his!
Mom was in from Sarasota, John & Scott Gallo, on leave from the Air Force flew in, Jaclyn & Ryan were in from University, & all the girlfriends & boyfriends were there!
The festivities started at our home on Stratford on Christmas Eve Afternoon as Sabrina & Bryan brought over Thor for the first volley of Christmas gifts. Every mode of transportation was covered as Thor got a Wagon, a Car, a Helipcopter, an Airplane and then finally a Train. I seem to remember Thor got a Tablet, as well as a number of now forgotten gifts and this was only Christmas Eve afternoon!
Following our longstanding Family Tradition, we went over to Kathy's brother Jay & Val's house to spend Christmas Eve with her side of the family. The buffet was extra tasty this year and the cousins had a great time catching up with each other. Jameson was looking as beautiful as ever, as her and her Lane await the birth of their daughter in just a month or so. We stayed there until about 7:30pm and then made our way to Barb & Randy Gray's home soon thereafter.
Barb is my cousin (youngest daughter of my sainted Godfather Russ Johnson & Joyce). We got there just as their White Elephant Exchange was going on and my Aunt Joyce took the opportunity to unload on me the gift she had just opened - which was a Gallo Toilet Seat! Was great to see newlyweds Ally & Brian - they are doing just great.
From there it was on to Trinity where the Family enjoyed the Christmas Service starting at 11:00PM. This is always a deeply moving time for me, being in my home church where my Dad & Godfather had worshipped before me, giving thanks to God Almighty for blessing humanity with a Savior to save us from our sin and restore us to a right relationship to God. Silent Night, Holy Night is particularly emotional as, by candlelight, we sing Christ Our Savior is Born, Christ Our Savior is Born....
Following Church at 1:00AM it was a short trip to the cemetary for Ben & I as we prayed over Pop & Uncle Russ' grave lit by the light of a rare Christmas Full Moon. Though I started the prayers, my Ben jumped in and prayed most of them- I was very proud of him.
Christmas Day dawned with the warmest temperatures I can remember in Chicago for this day - in the mid 50's. We exchanged presents with the Boys and then headed over at 11:00 am to eldest Sister Chief's (Laurie) house where she put on a spread for my side of the family. Again the highlight for me was watching all the cousins - now young adults themselves, talking and joking around like they were kids. Another massive gift exchange ensued, that took almost 2 hours to complete. Mike regaled us Bro in Laws with a hilarious hunting story and it was great just being with people that you love. Thanks Laurie for all you did putting on such a great party. Truly a blessed Christmas.....