We had a great time celebrating Christmas with both sides of the family.

Christmas Eve

Our Christmas Eve was a bit hectic. We gathered at my mom’s house, but by “we” I mean Jessica, Namine, myself, my grandpa, my parents, my sister, and my brother and his wife. However, due to varying church and work duties, we weren’t all able to convene at the same time.

Jessica, Namine, and I went to the earlier afternoon church service, so afterward we went to my mom’s house. Namine colored while Jessica and I played cards. My grandpa was also there, but he was content to watch us play.

Fortunately, the evening’s schedule did settle down and we were all able to gather for opening stockings and presents. One of the things Namine received in her stocking was a tiny Hatchimal. According to the directions — or so we thought — it was supposed to hatch if you held it and rubbed it. As we opened presents, we all took turns holding it, waiting for it to hatch. It took over an hour.

And as usual, Namine received the most presents. (As it should be.) She received clothing and toys, plus some more meaningful things like a picture of her plus my mom and sister from their trip to Disney World this past summer.

The song You Are My Sunshine carries with it special significance in my family. For several generations, each parent has sung it to their children, and that did not stop with us. It is the song we sang to Namine in the hospital, and when she asks for a lullaby, it is always the first song she requests of us.

In the days leading up to Christmas, Namine asked for a book about birds. So my mom gave something special: a gigantic bird book tome (given its size, it’s the only word that fits) from her own childhood.

Every year for Christmas, my grandpa gives Namine a new American Girl doll. My family must have really lost their minds, because this year both he and my mom did (though at least they communicated and bought different dolls). As it would turn out, this Christmas brought quite the haul of American Girl loot — but I’ll get to that shortly.

After opening presents, we went over to my aunt and uncle’s house. They’re not really my aunt and uncle; they’re close friends of my grandparents and mom, so in true Eiche tradition, they’re “aunt” and “uncle” to the kids — i.e., me, Jessica, my siblings, and Namine.

Christmas morning

We — Jessica and I, I mean — had planned on getting up early to make our traditional almond rolls, but we were tired. We did get them made in time to eat (late) breakfast, but we opened presents as the dough was rising.

As for Namine, she received many an American Girl present. They were mostly clothes for her dolls, but she also received a new Bitty Baby. (The “normal” American Girl is a girl, meaning a pre-adolescent, a child but not a toddler. This doll is a baby boy, the first that Namine now owns of the male persuasion.)

Namine also received another Build A Bot — a robot that she can put together herself. She already has a fox, but with her being the dinosaur nut she is, you know we had to get her a Triceratops.

Namine doesn’t watch Stranger Things, but Jessica and I do. I had to show off the ornaments of Jim Hopper and Eleven that I got Jessica.

Mornings are for coffee and contemplation.

After all the other presents, there was one left for Namine to open. Namine had been asking for a Hatchimal for quite a while, but we’d consistently said no. This present, however, had on it the label: “to Namine, from Santa.”

So yeah, this thing was crazy. It doesn’t hatch until you’re ready for it to. (The instructions are not kidding around when it tells you to keep your face away from the shell, because the animal inside literally pecks its way out.) Unlike the tiny Hatchimal from Christmas Eve, it did not take nearly as long to hatch. Being electronic, it was also much more interactive.

Inside its box were also two more small Hatchimals. These Namine was able to “hatch” much more quickly — she figured out that by pressing the heart on the egg, its shell popped open to reveal the animal inside. (The little ones are solid plastic, and not electronic like the big one.)

Christmas afternoon

We had one more round yet of giving and getting, at Jessica’s sister’s house. Namine had resigned herself to a snow-less Christmas, but as we stepped outside, it was snowing a bit. This thrilled Namine, who exclaimed: “IT’S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!”

After everyone ate lunch/dinner (it was mid-afternoon, so we usually call it “lupper”), Namine and her cousin opened their presents. Namine received some more clothes — which she is ever in need of, since she won’t stop growing — and the biggest box of Legos she had ever seen.

After the gifts were straightened up and wrapping garbage disposed of, the girls wasted no time in breaking in (though thankfully not literally) Namine’s new Legos.

The adults, on the other hand, did not exchange gifts. We played our own game, which to my knowledge does not have a name other than “the cling-wrap game.”

Jessica providing bunny ears for scale, sporting her new Christmas sweater!

Each of us brought two five-dollar gifts (although five-dollar bills sufficed as well) and two gift cards. All of that got wrapped up in the cling-wrap equivalent of a rubber band ball, which we all, standing in a circle, took turns attempting to unwrap while wearing oven mitts. While one person attempted to unwrap, the next person rolled a pair of dice. Doubles signaled the end of the person’s turn, while the oven mitts were passed to the person who just rolled, and the dice to the next person in line.

We had an excellent two days of celebrating Christmas with our family and friends. It can be a stressful time, but well worth the time spent reconnecting, reminiscing, and just plain ol’ enjoying each others’ company.

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