Christmas Eve

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and the family is gathering at the home of my 97-year-old grandfather, affectionately known as “Pa”. In about an hour, this old turn-of-the-20th-century house will be filled to the brim with people, all family…

Pa's House

Something like this…and this isn’t everyone! Six generations are represented here tonight.

Crowd

Of course, the highlight of the evening is the kids sitting at Pa’s feet and opening their presents . When I was a kid (and the family was quite a bit smaller) we all used to draw names and each would buy a present for the person he or she chose. Now, it’s become a bit unwieldy, so parents bring modest presents for their kids and Pa presents his gifts, and everyone brings something for Pa. This year, Pa’s gifts included a Florida Gator hat (I wonder who got him that 😉 )

Kids opening presents Pa with his Gator hat

After the Christmas Eve activities at Pa’s, we returned to Mom and Dad’s cabin on the hill to get ready for Santa’s visit. So, after a couple quick photo’s with the selfie-stick…

Family Selfie Cindy Selfie

the stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

Stockings

in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…

Santa

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It’s a family tradition to spend Christmas Eve at Pa’s house. It’s hard to believe that we can fit this many people in this relatively small house. The boys really enjoy playing with their Cousins, Aunts and Uncles.

Adam and his favorite cousin, Katy…

Adam and Katy

Alex takes a break from the fun to talk to daddy and play with Mommy’s phone…

Alex and Daddy

Back at Nana’s house, the boys get ready for bed where visions of sugarplums will, well, you know…

Mommy and the Boys

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Here it is, the night before Christmas and everything is ready…

Christmas Tree

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Last night Cindy and I saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly (Home of the Flyers!). They did two shows: a 3:00 and an 8:00 (we had tickets to the 3). So, we hired a baby-sitter for the boys and headed downtown. The traffic was as-to-be-expected, terrible, but the concert was awesome!

The shows on the TSO Winter Tour are divided into two acts. The first act is a narrated performance of most of the songs from “Christmas Eve and Other Stories”. In the second act, the band performs a mix of songs from their other albums. They opened with “Night Enchanted” from their Night Castle cd, and it only got better from there. Here’s a glimse of the performance with “Queen of the Winter Night”…

After the concert we had dinner at a pub/restaurant in South Philly called “The Ugly American” (gotta love the name!). Great food! I had a roast beef sandwich with a couple pints of Yuengling and Cindy had fish tacos with some obscure wheat beer (yuk!) .

The Ugly American

Cindy had actually wanted Asian Fusion, but the restaurant we found near the event center was in a pretty shady part of town, and so we bypassed it. It worked out very well, though!

We came home to two peacefully sleeping toddlers, and a glowing report from the baby-sitter. A great night all-around.

Here’s another video from TSO, a promo piece to give you a sense of the intensity of the concert…

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Over the river and through the woods to Great Grandpa’s house we go…

A family tradition: The whole family–parents, children, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles–all get together on Christmas Eve to have dinner and exchange gifts. It’s mainly an event for the kids, but the adults, most of them anyway ;-), get into it, too. This was my first Christmas home in almost 10 years, and the twins first. They had a blast, too (Adam was such a show-off, and Alex just loved being held).

There were so many gifts, it took three people to pass them out…

Cindy helped the kids open presents …

The boys hanging out with their cousin Eddie…

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