It's been a very busy Christmas this year, and it just seemed to sneak up on us. Last week, Seth and Mandy had their finals at Geneva, so there was no time for shopping that week. That left the week of Christmas as the only time for us to shop. On Monday, Mom took us girls to the mall to go shopping. The mall, despite it being a few days before Christmas, was packed full of people, which meant loooong lines. At Dick's Sporting Goods, while we bought Dad some long johns, we waited in line for about twenty minutes, mostly due to a couple in front of us that bought about one thousand dollars worth of shirts and sports gear. Then we went to a couple of stores to look for a new bathrobe for dad because his old one has certainly seen better days. I also tried to find a gift for Mandy, but I had no luck. We managed to complete shopping for the cousins, so we were done. We wanted to eat a late lunch, but the food court was jam-packed, so we left the mall and went to the Panda Express that opened not far from home. It was delicious, and I've fallen in love with the orange chicken and fried rice. After we got home, we made quick preparations to get ready for the Christmas program at church that night. On Tuesday night, Mom and Dad went out to shop for us kids. On Wednesday (Christmas Eve day), Dad took us kids out to Target to go shopping for each other. We quickly split up, and I headed for the pajama section to find some for Mandy, who wanted footie pajamas. They didn't have what I wanted, so I called Dad and asked for his help. While I waited for Dad to arrive, Mandy showed up in the same section. Her eyes widened, and then she walked away. I later heard from Dad that Mandy had wanted me to leave the section so she could buy me my gift. Anyway, I settled on buying Mandy these blue stripped pajama bottoms that are totally her. Then I want over to the electronic section to buy Seth some headphones. Seth enjoys playing his game "Celtic Kings," but often there is a lot of noise so he wears headphones... that is, my headphones because he doesn't have a pair. I found some headphones for Seth, paid, and then went outside to wait for everyone else to come out. Then Dad took us home and went out to buy White Elephant gag gifts while we wrapped our presents. Then we drove to Uncle Jason and Aunt Nancy's house for the clan Christmas Eve gathering.
About the Christmas program on Monday, we had a fun time. The program began with the newly founded children's choir singing a couple of songs (Sunny is part of this choir but wasn't able to make it due to a stomach bug), then other people got up to sing or play Christmas music. Jake Bailey entertained us with a 20th century remake of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" that Mom said would have fit perfectly in a Tim Burton movie. The highlight, for me, was when the Karen people stood up to sing. Earlier this year, some of the Karen people from Asia moved here from refugee camps in Asia, and they have settled onto a self-sustaining farm on some property that belongs to the Davis family in our church. They've been attending church with us for some time, and it was exciting to hear them get up and sing Karen hymns in the Karen language. After the program, there was a nice little meal that everyone enjoyed.
This year, as always, we got together twice as a family for two different occasions. We got together with Grandpa Mike and Grandma Marsha on Saturday afternoon and then with Grandma Linda and Granny on Wednesday. On Saturday, we drove over to Grandpa's house and enjoyed the lovely banquet that we grazed on all afternoon, including the infamous pina colada punch that Grandpa makes every year. Yum! The kids played downstairs on the Wii and the playstation, and the adults sat upstairs and talked. I'm afraid I didn't get many pictures, but you can see some of the pictures at the below link.
On Wednesday, we drove to Uncle Jason's house for the annual Christmas Eve gathering. We first enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner, complete with a delicious fruit punch that everyone kept sipping all evening. After the meal, we gathered around the Christmas tree to open presents. Grandma played Santa this year, and she made sure everyone had one gift before we opened them. I got a lovely black purse from Uncle Josh and his family, a pink sweater from Uncle Jason and family, and then two shirts and jeans from Grandma and Granny. Mandy got clothes but also a UGA hat that she's been wanting for some time now. Seth got himself a Mario t-shirt and some other clothes. After opening presents, we gave Grandma a picture of all twelve of the grandchildren (back in November right after Thanksgiving, we sneakily got together and got the pictures of all the grandchildren, though the next weekend we five Cunninghams had to get some of the pictures re-done because the originals turned out blurry.), and she loved it. Then the adults (including myself) had our second annual White Elephant Gift Exchange. We then took some family pictures, and then the kids scattered outside. I snapped some funny pictures of Seth, Gabe, and Noah tipping over the hammock. After a while, we got together to play the picture telephone game that Mandy, Seth, Mom, and I had played at the youth Christmas party. It was absolutely hilarious. A picture of a strong man evolved into a man with tree branches for arms, a quote "fish is good" turned into Lucifer/ a cat person eating fish, a fire-breathing dragon turned into a fire-breathing Loch Ness monster, Chicago turned into a city being destroyed by a tsunami, and there were many other funny ones. There were a couple where it looked like we were rolling with laughter. Everyone seemed to enjoy the game. We hung out for a little while afterwards and then went home. You can see the pictures at the two links below.
When we got home, we five sat down and watched a movie called "Merry Christmas." It is the touching story of how on Christmas Eve in 1914 German, French, and Scottish soldiers had a ceasefire and became friends, much to the dismay of their superiors. Besides the one irrelevant sex scene, I highly recommend the movie. After we watched it, we started "Bourne Ultimatium," but we went to bed at midnight, so we didn't finish it. However, we did that evening do our annual tradition of opening one gift. Mandy opened the pajama bottoms that I gave her, I opened the gorgeous green Christmas nightgown that she gave me, and Seth opened his gift, but sadly I've forgotten what it was. Mom opened one of her gifts, which was a new pasta scoop since our loyal white one has lost several of its teeth. It is funny because Mom had been teasing us about buying her a new scoop, so Mandy and I often had to cover our mouths and try not to laugh when she mentioned it. We gave her the scoop Christmas Eve so we could sneakily throw her off the scent of one of her other gifts.
On Christmas morning, there was not your usual "peace on earth, goodwill toward men." Mandy is always impatient to open the gifts, and for years she has delighted in waking us up early. This year was no exception, as she woke me up at 8:51, demanding that I get out of bed. I had no choice but to comply. Once we had all gathered in the living room, we began opening presents. Mom and Dad had gone to Kohls to give us girls clothes (since we both need them badly), so Mandy and I got cute tops and sweaters, including some new underwear. Mandy got a new Canon camera (since Bethany broke hers), and we've told her that she is not to let Bethany borrow it (but Bethany got the same camera for Christmas as well, so that shouldn't be a problem), Seth got a new wireless mouse for his laptop, and I got a gorgeous red 4 GB MP3. We gave Dad his new bathrobe as well as a nice big frying pan, then we gave Mom a knife sharpener and some frying pans, one of which was identical to Dad's. There is a funny story behind the pans. Mom knew Dad really liked the egg pan we gave him last Christmas, so she decided to get him a bigger one. Meanwhile Dad knew that Mom needed new pans, so he went to a cooking store at Northpoint Mall to get her a set of two pans that cost as much as the pan that she got him. We laughed over this, and Mom is going to return the pan and get Dad another gift. After opening the gifts, we cleaned up and ate quiche for breakfast. We hung out and enjoyed our gifts, even enjoying a visit from Grandma and Granny. However, after they had gone, things got dirty and cluttered. Our attic for some time has needed an extensive cleaning, so Dad decided that Christmas Day would be the best day to clean it out. We got everything down and put it in the living room. Our living room was flooded with dusty boxes and junk, and we couldn't even get out of the house because all the doors were blocked. After several hours, we finally managed to decide what was junk and what was staying, and the living room and attic were clean. Dad joked that all the stuff we threw out looks like we just cleaned out Santa's sleigh.
Thursday was busy. Mom took me and Mandy to Kohls so we could use a gift certificate she got. Mandy got a new shirt and a furry vest there, but I couldn't find anything there. I'm looking forward to this South Beach diet that we're starting in January so that I can actually find stuff that fits. Anyway, then we girls went to the church to clean up and get it ready for Sunday. Mandy and Sunny were going to spend the night at Grandma's house, but sadly Granny got the stomach bug that has been going around, so we decided against it. Dad, Seth, and Mandy went over to Uncle Josh's house, and I later went out with Blair, her mom, her sister, and some of her sister's hyper friends to the Night of Lights at Lake Lanier. After we enjoyed the lights and snapped some pictures, we had a late dinner at Chick-fil-A and went home. When I got there, Mandy and Sunny were back, which meant that Seth was spending the night with Noah and Gabe. We watched a movie and hung out that evening.
We have nothing planned for today. Mandy and I were going to go shopping with Grandma and Granny, but we had to cancel the trip because Granny is still sick. Meanwhile, next Saturday we may go to Commerce and spend our Christmas money there, as every year we try to find a time to go shopping with our money while everything is on sale. So today will probably be one of those lazy, relaxing days where we don't do much. Well, I think I have remembered everything about our crazy Christmas (though I will probably remember something later and kick myself for forgetting). I hope you all had good Christmas, so have a happy New Year!
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