we officially kicked off the family christmas gatherings last week with my mom's side of the family at bethany's house. somehow i managed to leave our house without my camera, so my mom gets the credit for coming through in a pinch on this one...
then tonight, we had my parents and bethany's growing crew over for dinner, fellowship, and fun. my mom and bethany "potlucked" the dinner with me (which is good because they're both way better in the kitchen than i am), and we were all stuffed with goodies for our annual christmas picture in front of the tree...
once the gang had all gone, we pulled out what i hope to make a new yearly tradition in our home -- the advent candles. abby's teachers at church are stupendous (and i don't just throw around words like stupendous!) and they've been sharing with the kids a lot over this past month about advent and what it means -- the expectation of something wonderful to come. you light one purple candle for each week leading up to christmas, but on christmas eve you light each and every candle (including the white one in the center) to remember and celebrate the day that christ was born!!
the kids have loved reading the stories leading up to and surrounding jesus' birth. (well, not so much jack. he's mostly just loved the involvement of fire -- as evidenced by jack's face and the silent "whoa!" from this shot...)
the sweetest shot of the day was this little gem. (yes, bethany, this one was simple, pure, and unscripted). :-)
the night ended with another of our favorite traditions around here -- the single christmas eve gift. each year on christmas eve, the kids get to open one of their three gifts, and either they're very good actors or they suffer from a touch of memory loss, but they always act surprised to find new jammies inside the box.
and finally, we're doing a lot of things to cut back on some expenses and unnecessary costs around here, so that, combined with the fact that i was responsible for several hundred of other people's cards, meant that i didn't get cards of our own sent out this year. but as i'm looking at the clock and seeing that it's officially christmas day now, i'm thinking this is the perfect time to wish you and your family a wonderful celebration today of christ's birth. merry christmas from the five lewis crew!!