"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." ~Dr. Seuss
When Cameron was younger, waking up very early on Christmas morning was the norm. With more family members with us on this special holiday, everyone slept in a bit and we enjoyed a leisurely day. Each person opened one gift at a time. Grandma Sue and Jalayna had never celebrated in our home, so it was fun to add them to our traditions. We have always seen Oma and Opa for the holiday and we all agreed that it was so special to bring our families together.
Jane created two challenges for the cousins, Cam and Layna. Cameron was presented with a chicken tender one and Layna read her donut challenge. Each indicated that their cousin would be their consultant to test and then rate establishments in the area to determine which was best. Each one read "This is your Christmas challenge, should you choose to accept it. Please rate the best (chicken tenders or donuts) in Grand Rapids! Your cousin is your partner in this challenge to consult with about your rating. Your rating of each location will be the final score!"
Grandma Sue was busy sewing and gave each of us something she had made. Oma and Opa made a trip to the Marushka store in Grand Haven to give everyone a unique piece of clothing only found in their city. Cam opened a heated vest to use for skiing and Jane unwrapped a temperature controlled mug to allow her to continue work in her office instead of heading to the microwave for multiple reheats! Chris received a new camo jacket for snowboarding and Cam opened tickets to accompany his parents to a Griffins hockey game in February.
Chris and Jane decided to invest in a family membership to Frederick Meijer Gardens. Our gift to our collective family was to treat everyone to a trip to the botanical garden on Tuesday to see "Christmas Around the World." The holiday exhibition honors cultures across the globe with more than 40 unique displays depicting fact and folklore, past and present. Some of our favorites were Germany and Lithuania. After perusing the decorations and seeing a short film about the history of the displays, we ventured to the Garden cafe for cocoa, coffee and tea.
Over the course of the week, we relaxed and watched Christmas movies including Home Alone, Arthur Christmas and Christmas with the Kranks. Cam and Layna started their quest to find the tastiest donuts and chicken tenders. Games were played and it was fun to see the grandmas together, chatting and catching up.
Jane drove Oma and Opa back on Wednesday afternoon and told them it would only be a couple of weeks until we'd see them again. Amanda joined us for a couple of days and the cousins enjoyed taking her dog Otis for a walk.
Layna was intrigued by the frosty ground one morning and had to go outside and touch the pine tree just to see what it was all about.
Chris and his older brother had some time to themselves while Jane and Grandma Sue hung out with the kids.
Sunday afternoon, we prepared for our New Year's Eve celebration after a trip to the grocery store. Dips, chicken wings, side dishes and fruit made up our menu. We toasted each other with sparkling cider, which we all declared quite tasty. We all talked about things we would stop doing in 2024, instead of making promises to start something else. After all, Tennyson said "Ring out the false, ring in the true."