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Despite the busy day they had yesterday and the evening at Pa’s, the boys still got up early! I heard them get out of bed about 5:30, but I didn’t get up until 6:00. They were playing on their iPads and patiently waiting for everyone to get up (although they had already catalogued every present under the tree by its recipient. Anyway, I let them go into their stockings, which, if you know Cindy, is crammed full of treasures–toys, candy, games, and more candy…

Christmas Day

After the boys finished with their stockings, I put some coffee on and we waited for the rest of the family to get up. And at 7:00, which seemed like an eternity, the unwrapping began!

Christmas Day Christmas Day

Let’s see, there were Harry Potter wands, which they thought were pretty cool. Alex got the actual Harry Potter wand, while Adam was pleased to have the wand used by Lord Voldemort…

Christmas Day Christmas Day

Naturally, a fast-handed wand battle ensued…

Christmas Day

One of the neatest presents they received was a retro electronic football game from the 70s. I loved this game when I was a teenager, but the boys weren’t too impressed! LOL.

Christmas Day

Nope, what they were really excited about was the official 2018 FIFA World Cup Soccer Ball…

Christmas Day

and the gear that went with it…the uniforms of their favorite players: Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazil’s Neymar da Silva Santos Junior (aka Neymar Jr.)…

Christmas Day

There was a lot more, of course, but these were the highlights. I enjoy watching the boys on Christmas morning and remember the excitement I felt as a child while ripping the wrapping paper off the presents left for me under the tree. It’s nice to relive those moments through their eyes.

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ALL ABOARD! With gold tickets in hand and the boys dressed in their pajamas, we boarded The Polar Express in Tavares, Florida, for our trip to the North Pole…

Polar Express Tickets

Today’s experience was our Christmas gift from the boys’ Godparents, Chris and Sherrie, and is based on the more-than-30-year-old Christmas classic, The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsberg, and the 2004 animated movie directed by Robert Zemeckis.

Prairie Dogs

Each car in the train had it’s own steward (ours was named “Hannah”), who directed all of the show’s activities, including the conductor visit, the hobo, the reading of the story by the author, singing Christmas carols, and the hot chocolate song complete with dancing waiters in the isle. She also punched the tickets, of course…

Steward Hannah Tickets Punched

When we reached the North Pole, Santa joined us and presented all the kids on the train with “the first gift of Christmas,” a silver bell…


The whole experience lasted just over an hour and was well worth the two-hour drive to Tavares! Although Adam questioned: 1) why the trip to the North Pole only took 30-minutes (“because the movie was two-hours”); 2) why, upon reaching the North Pole, there was no snow; 3) why Santa’s gray mustache wasn’t white like his beard; and 4) why he couldn’t have more hot chocolate.

( sigh )

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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.


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…


in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…


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Like the song goes,

♬ ♬ It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas ♬ ♬

and the lights and decorations are up, both outside…

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

and inside…

Christmas Stockings

We even have a special Elf tree…

Christmas Stockings

Remember when I said, our house always has a theme? Well, here’s why…at least this explains the Christmas season 😉

Christmas Lights

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Both of the boys had their own advent calendars this year. And they both consisted of building things with Legos. Adam’s Star Wars themed (hard to believe, right?) calendar was a collection of characters and assorted ships and stuff from the movie…

Star Wars Advent Calendar

The month culminates in this little Darth Vader Santa character on Dec 24…

Darth Vader Santa

Alex’s calendar was made by our neighbor and consisted in these clothespins that held individually wrapped packages.

Lego Train Advent Calendar

Each package contained pieces of a Lego Christmas Train and each day, Alex would open one of the packages and slowly put the train together. On Christmas day, he opened the last package, which were the stockings that go in the little wagon being pulled by the train…

Lego Christmas Train

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Here’s the picture of our little Christmas elves and their dog that’ll go on the family Christmas card this year, which will be sent out late, as is our family tradition!

Christmas Pic

And the runner’s-up were…

Christmas Pic Christmas Pic

Notice, the best behaved subject in the pictures was Charlie, the dog! 😉

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In preparation for St. Nick’s visit, Kameran and her May-May have erected a fabulous gingerbread abode suitable for the jolly man’s elves…

The building begins…

Building the Gingerbread House

The finished product…

Gingerbread House

Nice job! It’s a good thing this home is a giveaway, because we sure would have a tough time selling it in this market!! I hope those elves keep the yard up…

Now that the house is built, it’s time to bake some cookies for Santa…

Making cookies for Santa

…And with a cup of milk, the biscuits are placed in front of the fireplace, so Santa doesn’t miss them!

Cookies ready for Santa

I hope he doesn’t trip over them! How would I make that claim on my homeowners insurance?

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This evening, Cindy and Nana took the boys to the mall to see Santa. What appeared to be a very promising visit with Saint Nick, soon disintegrated into a baby meltdown as Alex wanted nothing to do with the “jolly old elf.” Santa saved the day, though, by inviting Mommy and Nana to sit on his lap with the boys…

Seeing Santa

Of course, Alex wasn’t too keen on Santa’s solution!

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The boys first visit with Santa. They didn’t quite know what to make of the “jolly old elf”, but they really seemed to take a liking to him. Alex especially liked his beard …

The boys with Santa

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