We set aside a day other than Christmas Day so we can all get together, leaving the kids to spend the actual day with their own little ones... and not dragging them out and about to our celebration. It works out best that way.
This year it was decided that Saturday and Sunday between Christmas and New Years would work out for everyone's schedule.
Some of the years, we have driven up the motorhome to park at our oldest daughter Erin and Waylen's home in Oconto. Other years we bunked out in their play room on an air mattress. But last year we decided to rent a motel room nearby (about 6 blocks away) with a pool and hot tub. It worked out well, so we decided to do that again. A king sized bed on the main floor was only $85 a night, not too bad. The hotel doesn't allow dogs, so Finney and Binney would be sleeping at Erin's house in their doggie crate. They had canine buddies Biscuit, Ewok, Radar and Leia to keep them company.
We packed up the car and the dogs and their doggie crate and headed on up on Saturday morning. They live 70 miles, and although our temps were below zero, with wind chills much much lower. We got up to their house and unloaded all the gifts and food... and stole 2 of their kids to head over to the motel. After a quick stop at McDonalds for a special treat lunch (for the kids... ick.. not for us!) We checked into the motel. Nice enough room, but a chair was broken and we wanted to be sure they knew it wasn't us! Got it replaced right away and we were all set. We had permission to have our grandkids there to swim, under our own supervision with us in the pool with them, of course. Here are the first two, Chelsea and Clayton. The pool was REALLY warm!
Then Heather brought Jameson and Whitney, but she stayed to help wrangle them and soak in the hot tub with us. I took a few more pics and then set down the camera to get back in the water.
Lots of screeching and laughter and fun fun fun....
Of course Steve and I were in the pool with the kids and then afterwards in the hot tub.... the kiddos only put their feet in the hot tub, as it was pretty hot and warning signs prevented them from being submerged like us grownups could do.
Then.... we let them do something we always let our own kids do at hotels:
LOL LOL LOL
When the kids were all done doing what they do best (goofing off) we herded them into their jackets and boots and hats and mittens. We got them out the door and into Heather's Jeep and our car. That is another reason for having another adult there at the hotel, because we needed another vehicle to transport 6 kids back over to Erin's house.
The adult children had all the food ready to feed the crew, hot chili with all the fixens on a very very cold icy day. How great was that? We had go-withs like veggies, dips, chips, salsa, salads and desserts. The kids were hungry and ate well, but they were also keyed up to start opening presents.
Before we started on the presents, I decided to give each grandchild a keepsake I created the night before. Years ago, I already made myself a Christmas Village of about 30 houses and commercial buildings. I had recently gotten another 50-60 unpainted buildings that matched my set. I decided that I would paint up one for each grandkid and have enough to gift them for the next 5-6 years! I decided to do this at the last minute and sat up until midnight the night before--- painting seven little buildings.
First, I sat all of the grandkids down and gave each kid a battery operated flicker LED candle light. They had NO idea what was coming next. It was like "oh cool, Grandma gave us little flicker candles...."
Each got their very own personalized Christmas Village Building. Even little one year old Claire. I wrote on the bottom of each building the year and who got which... I started this year with commercial buildings, so each could get excited about what one was theirs. It is a tradition I hope to continue for years and years.
Next, all of our kids had a HUGE surprise for me! All the kids gathered around while I sat on the floor to open their gift to me. They had struggled the last month to NOT tell me what the big secret gift was. Each one wriggled like a puppy because they KNEW and they didn't TELL!
I think they are enjoying the anticipation as much as I was....
What on earth was this?
As I lifted the lid, I got tears in my eyes. I unfolded section by section to reveal face after beloved face. It was a huge plush throw blanket with all of my grandchildren printed on it! In the middle was our Family Christmas Photo from last year with all seven grandkids around me. What a treat! What a delightful blessing! I was flabbergasted! Look at the expression on my face:
Check this out,
all of my most favorite photos of each one!
The kids loved unveiling it and unfolded it out in the middle of the room. Clayton chirped up that we should all JUMP on it! Noooooo this wasn't the hotel room bed. LOL.
And best of all, I got to give a Group Hug of Thanks
as they all piled on to almost bowled me over!
The wee ones couldn't wait any longer... we had to let them tear into the presents! They took turns handing them out, as bedlam ensued. A few gifts got opened by the wrong kids in their fervor, but all in all, we got it straightened out. We had a lot of handmade items between us adults, which is wonderful. The kids got toys and games and books and of course jammies!
Grandma goofed up on the sizes a bit, but they didn't mind and wore them loose and comfy.
Once the kids were all set up in the playroom with their toys and fun, we adults sat and watched the Wisconsin Badgers playing Miami U and they won! After the football game was over, and all the little kiddos were put into bed, it was time for adults card playing time. We all gathered around the dining room table, It sure was fun.... Everyone had beverages of their choice, (I made Tom and Jerry's hot holiday drinks with brandy and nutmeg) Erin had snacks and treats for us as well and jello pudding shots from Heather.
Here is our crew of adult children and spouses:
Daughters Erin and Heather
Daughterinlaw Heather (Dan's wife) and daughter Erin
Son Dan and Steveio, father and son
Myself and soninlaw Jesse, Heather's husband
Soninlaw Waylen (Erin's hubby) and daughterinlaw Heather (Dan's wife)
Soninlaw Waylen (Erin's hubby who was feeling poorly and
now found out he has pneumonia!)
I have no words....
Steve and I made it until past midnight, but finally had to toss in our cards and leave our losing coins in the kitty. We drove on back to the hotel for a bit of peace and quiet. At least for a few hours.
At 6 am, I was rudely awoken by the people in the next room were fumbling and slamming the connecting door between our rooms! They were rattling it and banging around and their tv was blaring.all night long. I shouted to knock it off, and they stopped. I knew it was an elderly couple I had seen going in there, and I mentioned it to the desk later on our checkout. They asked if our room got entered, and I said no because the door was locked from our side. They apologized and there wasn't much they could do I guess. And THAT is why I like sleeping in my own bed in my own motorhome with a deadbolt on the door.
We headed over to Erin and Waylen's house by 7 am. Most everyone was still sleeping, but the kids heard us come in. Steve got all the dogs out to the back yard in shifts to do their things. It was bitterly cold out again and all the dogs did their things without any hesitation and zoomed right back in the house!
I started a pot of coffee, and then began the breakfast bake casseroles.... I made up three full pans, but really should have only done two. The hungover parents were not in shape for a lot of eating, for sure.
I got in some early morning sunshine snuggles with little Claire
All of the grandtots gathered around my old dining room table in Erin and Waylen's house
for breakfast together. It is so good to see them all getting along and having fun.
Steve and Heather wrangled them and poured juice and egg nog and filled plates
Here are the grandkids crew:
Allegra and Clayton
Clayton and Jameson
Chelsea and Mason
And the two most wee ones, Claire and Whitney
Thank you kids for making such a special celebration for us, and thank you sooooo much for the love and thoughtfulness in having that throw blanket made up for me. Perfect for nap time, wrapped up in the love of our grandchildren.