On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
A Christmas Eve with George, the donkey!
The next round of Christmas fun came the following day when we loaded up two cars with gifts, stocking stuffers, appetizers and children to drive out to my parents’ home.
Christmas at the Homestead is nothing short of magical and all the kids were eager to share this special tradition with Brandon.
The tradition of spending Christmas Eve with my parents, and waking up to Santa’s gifts at their home the next day, is an annual tradition. My Mom always makes the holiday so special.
The kids love the predictability of the traditions that repeat themselves year after year and couldn’t wait to show Brandon why they love Christmas at the Homestead!
This year was a little different than past years, however. This year my brother and his new bride were celebrating Christmas in Texas with Krista’s family. My grandmother, now an Ohio resident, is living minutes from my parents’ home, so rather than staying at their home over Christmas, she traveled back and forth from her apartment to the Homestead to join in the activities that she felt up for participating in. This meant for a portion of the Christmas holiday it was just Toby, the kids and I at the Homestead with my parents.
Despite missing our loved ones who were far away this Christmas, we enjoyed another magical Christmas Eve at the Homestead, made all the more special by the addition of our newest son.
We arrived and Brandon got settled in, with the kids showing him where he would be sleeping and explaining what to expect.
The first event of the evening was dinner, with our usual meal of appetizers and hors d’ oeuvers.
While Dad left with Ozzie to pick up G.G., the rest of the crew began laying out the feast!
It was another AMAZING spread and when Dad, Ozzie and G.G. returned we ate until we couldn’t eat anymore!
After a quick clean-up, it was time to convene in the living room, for the talent portion of the evening.
Tyler, Ozzie, and Brandon chose to be audience members, rather than perform, but the oldest three all came with prepared talents to share.
Rusty had prepared two musical pieces to play on the keyboard.
Molly provided a repeat performance of the musical number she had performed at church on Sunday,
And then the girls both signed to a song they had been working on all month. The musical numbers all brought a sweet spirit to the Homestead, and we all found ourselves wiping away tears, moved by the beauty of the songs.
Tears were quickly followed by laughter as we followed the talent part of the night with the game portion of the evening.
Mom and Dad had purchased a new game for the holidays:
The premise of this game, developed by Jeff Foxworthy, is to pick a punchline to the start of a joke. Played much like “Apples to Apples,” everyone has a pile of responses that they can pick from and the “comedian” reads them all out load and chooses their favorite.
The game is rated for 14 and up and we soon discovered why. It was a bit saucy but downright hilarious. I don’t know when I have laughed so hard.
After getting our ab workout from an hour of belly laughs, my Dad left with G.G., Brandon and Tyler to take Grandma back home for the night. She would return in the morning for all our Christmas fun but would enjoy the comfort of her own bed in her own home overnight.
When Dad and the boys returned, we headed out to the barn for my very favorite part of Christmas…
There in cold and quiet barn, lit only by the luminaries and lights of a small tree, we took our places on bales of hay and listened to the melodious voice of my father as he opened his Bible and read the story of Jesus’ birth.
The only sound was the shuffling of animals in their stalls.
There in the barn we reflected on the greatest miracle of humankind that occurred in a similar place 2000 years ago.
There in a dusty stable long ago, surrounded by animals much like these, Mary brought the Savior of the world into this world.
What a powerful experience it was to reflect on that night, and all it entailed, as we sang the words of “Silent Night,” in the darkness of my parents’ barn.
When we were done, the animals were all tucked into the stalls.
We bid them good night.
And headed for bed…
Eager to see if Santa would make a showing.