Christmas in Texas

This was a year of new traditions for our family of five.  For the first time in twenty years, we spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day away from extended family.  We decided we would have more time to visit if we waited until after the holiday to make the trip back to Mississippi to see both families.

The kids got out of school on the Friday before Christmas, and we got busy that weekend making our iced Christmas cookies.  Upon Walt’s request, we decided to also attempt gingerbread men.  (Thank you, Betty Crocker mix.)  Anna Katherine decided she would make our usual cinnamon rolls that we have on Christmas morning.  As I told Shannon, the cinnamon rolls are a true labor of love.  We make Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls, which take a little time but are so worth it.  Anna Katherine hung in there all afternoon that Sunday and had enough rolls for our family and plenty to freeze for later or give to the neighbors.  (We decided to make White Trash Chex Mix to give to our neighbors instead, so now we have enough cinnamon rolls to last us awhile.)

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Ben and I actually made these cute little reindeer cookies the week before he finished school.  His teacher decided it would be fun to give the kids a Christmas project.  One of the options was to bring something homemade or baked that could be shared with the class.  While it was busy work, we appreciate an easy “A” every now and then.

Along with all the Christmas cooking, we enjoyed a little entertainment from our Elf on the Shelf-ish, Elbert.  He’s not a legitimate Elf on the Shelf, seeing that I bought him at TJ Maxx several years ago in the Christmas decor section.  He was cute, and I just liked the idea of an elf on a shelf.  I haven’t once actually read the book.  And our elf, for the most part, really sits on a shelf.  But after Ben looked at him one night and dared him to make a move, even going so far as attempting a $20 bribe, I decided it was time for Elbert to cut loose.

IMG_1119After sitting in this comfy spot for several days, he made a big leap across the room and brought a book along.



Ben was ecstatic until I reminded him he owed the elf twenty bucks.

All jokes aside, the elf isn’t a big deal in our home, but we did have a little fun with him on an occasion or two.  And just as quickly as he appeared in our home, he quickly returned to the North Pole on Christmas Day.  (The pressure is off for another year.)

On Christmas Eve, we attended the 3:00 service at our church.  This was a “new” experience for us, as we have traditionally attended the Christmas Eve service at our church in Tupelo with my family.  It was a bittersweet time, creating new family traditions while leaving behind established ones.  Our hometown community had experienced a tragedy that week, and while we sat in the service that afternoon, I couldn’t help but think of Walt’s friend from four-year-old preschool.  Dixie would be spending her first of many Christmases without her Daddy as the result of a thoughtless, cruel act of a violent man.  And as our family of five sat in our new church, surrounded by many people that we have yet to meet, I was reminded how fragile life is and how grateful I am for the opportunity to make new traditions together.



Following the service, we had dinner together at home, lit the final candle of our advent wreath, and read one of our favorite Christmas books.  We also let each kid open one gift.  (Tacky Christmas jammies.)  This was also a new tradition, and I can’t wait to continue this one.





IMG_1222The book that they are reading is one that my Dad recorded for them several years ago and gave to each of the grandchildren for Christmas.  It’s sweet to hear his voice reading The Very First Christmas.  I treasure hearing this each year and know they will treasure their books for many years to come.  (I also love that he recorded a special introduction for each child.)

They modeled their pjs for us before going to bed.  It appears the tacky jammies resulted in a little bit of the crazy.







Ben was the first one awake on Christmas morning.  We heard him scrounging around in the den very, very early.  And we continued to sleep.  I told him the night before that he couldn’t wake us until he saw sunshine.  So around 6:45 both boys came in to announce Santa made a delivery at our house.










After we played with the gifts for awhile, we enjoyed our traditional Christmas morning brunch.  Again, our traditions were changing somewhat, since we normally had my whole family over to eat brunch with us.  As much as we missed everyone, we enjoyed our time together and still had our typical menu of breakfast casserole, jalapeño cheese grits, cinnamon rolls, biscuits, and fruit.  And I stayed in my pajamas most of the day.  And then after all the merriment and a little nap, I did a whole lot of cleaning and a whole lot of packing as we prepared to leave the following day to visit both sides of the family.  It was a very Merry Christmas in Texas.