Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve, Part 1

This was an interesting year for the Kurt family in terms of our traditions. Our holiday traditions have always been a cornerstone of our family. My Mom, who died a little over two years ago, loved tradition more than anyone I knew and she instilled that love for tradition in her those around her.

Since my Mom's death and my Dad's re-marriage, we've been figuring out about a whole new set of changes as we blend the two families together. My Dad's wife has three kids, each with their own kids and we're trying to figure out how to make things work together. Things haven't been exactly smooth, but we're learning as we go.

This year we changed things up a bit to accommodate everyone involved. In the past, we've had a big Christmas dinner at my parents, headed to church together and then spent the night and opened presents on Christmas morning, with lots of games, food and drinks in between. This year was a bit different.
This year Dan started a new tradition of having a booger (or a feather) in his hair. Susan, Madeline and Dan decided that a new tradition should involve leg warmers or trucking your pants into your socks.
Jon tried to change the tradition from Prime Rib to ham. He resorted to multiple lies and deceptions, to the point that tears formed on a baby jesus statue at the vatican one of us actually received an angelic visitation from my Mom telling us that Jon was full of crap (this happens more often than you know). In the end, my Dad made some ham. You can see from the picture just how much Jon ate.
We had a delicious dinner that involved some amazing food and very fun pictures. At one point as we were taking the pictures, Ben reached over and honked Susan's boob.
We have a number of odd parts of our family tradition, most are only funny to the family. One involves joking about Dan and Kris not staying over for Christmas Eve, which they haven't done in 13 years. Every year, we pretend like this i the first year it's ever happened. Every year, I do the dishes after dinner and Jon and Dan make the comment, "Look, Dave's doing the dishes for the first time ever." This time, as Judy was helping me, my Dad tried to jump in the picture and take the credit for it. It was sad. You can tell he's very out of his element.
We had some fun games as well, including our traditional Festivus feats of strength. Matthew got this Karate practice board, which simluates breaking 2 wooden boards. We all took turns practicing on the board, seeing which parts of our bodies we could use to break the board. I found that by punching it, you could really damage your fist.
Libby got this cool lock practice set, which the adults created a blind-folded version of the game. I had an embarrassing 1 min 10 seconds while Dan got it in 40 seconds.
One interesting learning experience was around our traditions and how they translate to the kids. It seems that the kids are learning about the traditions, some good, some bad. One of our family traditions is to always take family pictures. We also tend to like to try and jump into other people's pictures. This is okay when it's four of us. It doesn't translate well into 14 nieces and nephews. While we took our family pictures, every one of the kids tried to jump into the pictures. Most of our family pictures from this Christmas have someone else's kid in them. It was funny for the first 20 pictures.
One thing that was evident in our tradition is how much everyone loves to spend time together. The kids just love spending time together. I love spending time with my nieces and nephews, my brothers and sisters and the feeling is mutual. The joy radiates from the room as the kids spend time together. Whether it's Matthew being led around by his cousin Ben and loving every minute of it, or Dan and Kevin receiving hair make-overs from Maddie and Steve-O. We just love being together as a family.
Our Chris
tmas Eve time is so important together that we decided to change it up. After hanging at my Dad's for a bit, we headed over to our house to change and head to church at Crossroads.
This was an experience it itself. Having always been in a high school until this year, this was the first year we could have a christmas eve service with candles.
Emma Em and Allie at Christmas Eve Service
Christmas Eve service is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I have so many great memories of going to my Mom's church. I love the traditional Christmas Eve service with Carols and my family. I remember loving getting dressed up and sitting next to my Uncle Bill and singing my heart out. We make the same jokes every year ("Are the Barclay boys going to sing this year?") and blow out each other's candles during the candle light service. My Mom was always so proud of us and everyone of her grandchildren.

Christmas Eve ServiceThe Kurt family took up the first 2 1/2 rows of the service with a standing room only crowd. Maddie and Emma did the Christmas reading and were wonderful. Because of the packed house, the kids all set up front on the ground and loved it. Joe did a great job of gearing his message towards the kids and adults. My family was very well behaved, except during the candle-light service. The kids have caught on to our tradition of blowing each others candles out, and at one point as Joe walked by, Gabe tried to blow his candle out, which cracked me up.

The evening was different, but still great in a lot ways. You can see more of the pictures here.

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