Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas comes to a close

I think my brain stores memories in little folders, with photos stuck to the front.I'm a total word person, and an audio learner, but when it comes to memory it's all image baby. 

So here's Chritsmas 2011 as it will be "stored" in my mind and on my computer bursting with jPegs! All Christmas (which consisted of over a week of extended family at our house) if I wasn't weilding my actual camera, I was steadying my iPhone to quickly capture a moment, a dish, a memory (hence those of you on instagram or facebook getting a bit of a play by play already). 

"Why are you taking a picture of THat?" I got asked more than once.
Because. Because something about it contributed to an overall sense of Christmas or family, or togetherness, to me. The picture of my grandma (at the end of this post) and her glorious yellow china, my mom and her satiny doll, so obviously cherished,  kept coming to me like a ghost of Christmas past, whispering, "You think you'll remember, and maybe you will, but others will want to see, they'll want to try and understand." I'm not suggesting they all will, I'm sure there will be loads of my posterity that could care less what hor dourves we devour Christmas Eve, or that we celebrate Christmas "Adam" on the 23, or that my mom's nutcrackers are always a hit with the grandkids...but maybe there'll be one or two Chelsea-ish ones who want to know. Because part of understanding ourselves, can only come as we understand where we've come from, happiness and hurt, Christmas glory and daily struggle.

So if your that great-great grandchild, and you've somehow managed to access this obsolete technology, here's a glimpse at Christmas at our house, way back in 2011.

Getting ready.

My pre-Christmas gift? The darling neighbour children popping over to inform me their were taking my kids for a bit so I could finish getting ready for my company.(Obviously their amazing mother was behind this brillant plan!)
I ended up wrapping all the presents (which it wasn't until later  I realized what a blessing that was, when I tried to wrap a few more and ended up totally exasperated  at Levi's commitment to get his hands on the scissors and McKye's idea that he just had to stomp all over the paper.

So thanks friends, I so needed that, and didn't even know it!

Ben's family all came here this year. 
Bretzke Christmas has a few key components. 

The first being FOOD.
Whether it's bags of candy, yummy dips, literally pounds of wings, deluxe egg-mcmuffins, or good old mash potatoes and gravy, food is a favorite and a must.
Thankfully everyone helped with food prep, and the subsequent clean-ups and that aspect actually went surprisingly well (for me, who though not a bad cook isn't as shall we say committed to producing constant deliciousness.)

Games, good chats and movies all are definite components as well. 
The food was just fun to take pictures of:)
That's Benny's hot chocolate dispenser (his fav thing on our cruise was hot-chocolate on tap)

A really special part of Christmas was having Ben's grandma with us.

Seeing as just a few weeks before we were carolling to her in the hospital, she really was amazing. Especially with all the children, and general chaos that comes with multiple families bunking out under one roof.

A quiet Christmas it was not, but Grandma's quiet spirit tried to remind us.

Probably my Christmas highlight came as we sat at the table one night and just listened as she shared some stories from her life, cleared up some family history details and just let us enjoy her.

There may not be too many more Christmases with her (she's already outlived a couple different serious health issues), all I know is that this was a good one.
And I was so glad she was here.

My kids often wear pants OR shirts, just seemingly never together!

After a feast of appetizers,  some entertaining Kinect's playing, and a little wrapping paper tube swash-buckling, it was time or presents...

We always open presents on Christmas Eve night.
(at least we did once, and there's no going back now)
Levi took it pretty seriously apparently.

<-----THIS is McKye's big (most expensive) present.

And this------------->
is the last minute ten dollar extra we picked up, a litte blender to go with his adored play kitchen, 

that he played with NON- STOP all christmas long.

He didn't touch the guitar.

Aaron is always a little tricky to buy for, and he's not one to pretend he likes something, so I was so pleased when he really took to a couple of his gifts.

His Toy Story puzzle mat was instantly sacred ground and any toy or child not deemed worthy was quickly pushed away from it's sanctuary. Aaron was delighted to obsessively line up his cars for days ---a good break from all the mandatory social interactions that some with family being around.

After some customary Four on a Couch, and some messy candy cane sucking,
it was off to bed (our playroom was wall-to-wall with mattresses!) and Christmas morning sleep in (well for those not busy trying to keep their kids from jumping on all the sleeping relatives!

It was nice having Christmas on a Sunday.  We decided last minute to run out to Raymond where my talented sister-in-law had put together a musical Sacrament meeting. So beautiful. My niece Brittney sang a song, with a ward choir as back-up, dang she's cute.

Speaking of cute little girls...when did my little sisters-in-law turn into grown up beauties???

A little turkey din-din...

Jen and Danny "movin' in" :)
And it's time for the acting out of the nativity.
The bin of costumes was out at my Ben's mom's house, so with a quick rounding up of housecoats, innovative uses of tin foil and a Ewok costume being re-purposed to be the cutest little shepherd boy ever...
...we were ready to ride the donkey to Bethlehem.

This girl was made to play Mary!
 (she totally stayed in character the whole time, so gentle with baby Jesus, gazing at him lovingly)

The shepherd boy thought the gifts were fo him.

And then he crowned himself king.

Always a little chaotic, but worth it every year. We have a tradition on the Bretzke-side to on someones birthday go around the room and have everyone tell us something they love about the birthday person.  Well this year we did a circle for Christ, for His birthday. It was really a nice way to spend Sunday evening reflecting on all the reasons we love the Saviour. 

The front door reminded me just how many people were at my house!

Oh and one Christmas casualty: 

Levi's hand, 
use to playing with my unplugged hot iron, 
had quite the surprise when he tried to pick up one an Aunty had plugged in 
 in the hall, when all the bathrooms were occupied.

He'll live.
He looked like a little boxer, all bandaged up. 
(Between this and his shiner, please don't report us)


Cute to see the cousins playing together a but more as they get older.

There was a couple times I took a wise friends advice to remember "if you need to, you can leave". I'd throw Levi in the stroller and go for a quick walk around the lake behind our house, just taking a breath or two, because sometimes family just... "takes your breath away" (wink)
You all know what I mean.

There was lots more vegging, a few BBC movies for me and Alli, me and Benny even went ans saw the new Muppets one night after bedtime. 

Around 10 on Thursday, everyone but the two out of town single siblings walked out the door, and by noon I had three out of town couples friends walking in.
We had a nice visit, and I took no pictures (I know, not like me at all! )

Friday we hung out with Alli and Sam, and I decided I was gonna go out and stay at my moms after a temple session. Oh the serenity of that drive all by myself. Lovely.

It was nice to get a little extra time at my moms without the kids. 

I love my moms at Christmas. Nothing like your childhood home to accentuate the magic.

My mom's house IS magical at Christmas. So full of colour and twinkle.  Funny little Santa's, a Christmas village (that would never survive around here) and ornaments that hung on her mom's tree.

Her house is so full of wonderful things, 
like Coo-coo clocks and rotary phones.

Snackies before swimming.
My crafty sisters, super cute finger puppet present.

A few years ago I helped my mom illustrate a family story she wrote up as a children's book...this is the long awaited sequel about the night my brother got a glow in the dark lego stuck up his nose (it's quite the page-turer!)

Oh Kamber, could you be any cuter?

Enjoying a video of how cute Kamber is.

Levi's up there on the cute scales too though.

Taking the balls off grandma's tree

Bowen tradition, the son in laws get Ripley believe it or not books from my mom.
To look at when they weren't helping transform transformers or playing with lego.

I must have been getting tired, or just felt relaxed at my moms house, being a"child" instead of a host, cuz I didn't take as many pictures.  Next year maybe we'll hafta do Bowen's first.

I even forgot to get matchy PJ shots, so we did them after FHE on Monday.

And I do really love this one of my mom's tree-topping angel against her sparkling-spackled ceiling.

I do know that by Monday (after a super fun New Years party with a couple close friends, and too many laughs over a bean-bag joke) I was ready. 

Ready to be me and my boys in our house, just us.

So til next year Mr Claus...

PS I request a whole whack of these in my stocking next year:)


cc said...Best Blogger Tips

Sounds like you guys had SO much fun!! I feel like I got caught up on your life all in one post!! Can't wait to hang out again:)

yoga mamma said...Best Blogger Tips

Thanks for sharing your Christmas splendor! I love the Nativity play complete with costumes...so fun!!

Alana said...Best Blogger Tips

Brave Chelsea with all those people. My question in whose purple shoes? I'd probably die if I wore those. It does look you had a good year. Your kids obsessed with the blender, mine were interested in their sister's toys. Where did you get matching pjs, my oldest has gotten too big for old navy pjs. Also I'm curious about what setting you take pics in (plus what are you fav accessories )

Chelsea Belle said...Best Blogger Tips


Hey Alana, me an Rebecca were just discussing your fearlessness this afternoon. Now your questions: THe shoes (well they're certainly not mine, i wear even a kitten heel and I fear for my life!) they're y sister in law Allisons, she got a little obsessed with shoes on her mission in taiwan where they were wicked cheap. They gave a nice splash of colour to the picture, no.
PJs I believe my mother picked them up at the all powerful Walmart...though Bretzke sides were from last year and I picked em up at Target.
And camera...sigh. i suck and I use mostly automatic, because most of the time I lucky enough to get the camera turned on in time to catch the picture let alone fiddle with settings. Maybe if I had soem cute patient little posers...bah ha, blame the kids. AS much as I love taking picture, I still lack all the technical knowledge, which frustrate me, but apparently not enough to do something about it. Jeepers, guess you asked the wrong girl eh? GOod luck with your brave photography endeavours!

Jennifer said...Best Blogger Tips

so much fun! I love the pic of Ben carving/killing the turkey. Oh and the big smile on Aaron's face in the matching PJ pictures!