We put the motorhome in the storage lot on the base, dropped the rest of Nicolas' things off at his apartment, and got on the road. It was a long drive with 5 of us in one car, but the trip went smoothly.
After arriving at my Mom's house, the first order of business was to cut down a christmas tree. We drove to a nearby tree farm (how nice to be back where there are tree farms!), and quickly selected a white fir.
It was a beautifully shaped tree with long, soft needles. The tree farm guy took a family picture for us in front of the tree, and then cut it down for us. That was the first time we didn't have to do the cutting ourselves!
We got the tree back to my Mom's house, and the boys quickly set it up and started decorating.
It's been probably 45 years since my Mom has had a real Christmas tree, so this was a special treat for her!
Casey enjoyed it, too . . .
We were ready for Christmas!
We had family celebrations --
Christmas Eve at my Mom's house,
Lots of presents!!
The little boys were so excited!
Mom's new quilt --
and Christmas morning --
Doesn't Bryce look cute in his new Spartan hat??!!
He's going to need it to keep warm next winter!
We also had a couple Christmas dinners with Tom's family.
We had a full 2 weeks to spend in Michigan, so we also had time to visit with friends.
We spent a nice evening catching up with some of the boys' friends from their days in school,
and we were also able to attend the annual Christmas gathering of several of my girlfriends from college. The 4 of us and our families have had a Christmas party every year since about 1993 -- none of us even had kids then . . . and now we have 10 kids between us. They've grown up together, and it's so nice to see how they all still enjoy each others' company.
We've missed the party the last 3 years, but this year it happened to fall between Christmas and New Years, and we were able to attend. Our hosts, Liz and Dunny,
treated us to a delicious dinner, followed by a "thrift shop" gift exchange with a twist -- it was fun and provided plenty of laughs.
There were golden horse bookends, bacon bowls, record albums, and various other unique gifts. We ended up going home with smoke flavors for grilling, rubber duckies, keychains, and Bryce's "golden braid" . . . which he wore with pride!
The fun didn't end there, though . . . we had dessert and lively conversation, while the kids played cards and took pictures.
Bryce always seems to end up surrounded by girls!!
Our last annual tradition is group pictures --
First all the kids on the couch,
We had to do a 2nd take after we realized that Claire wasn't there for the first picture!
Then the moms/college friends/sorority sisters --
and finally, we are joined by our husbands.
It was an wonderful evening, spent with good friends, and we were so glad that we were able to join in the fun this year -- what a great way to wrap up our Christmas celebrations!