It was the middle of the night (the very early hours of Christmas Day) when Paul was awakened by the presence of someone by his side of the bed and then a voice “Santa just came.” It was Clark who was enthusiastically informing us. Of course it was black outside and far too early for us to awaken so he was sent back to bed. It was many hours later before we were downstairs to find that Santa had indeed come. It was a peaceful morning with only five of us—maybe the fewest we have had since 1974 when we had three small children.
Christmas Eve Day was “Male Bonding Day” when Paul and the four boys and our son-in-law piled in our van at 10:30 a.m. and went downtown to get a few last-minute gifts. At least that is the excuse. I think they enjoy being together on this day which has become a tradition. It is just one more event that ties them together and creates memories that will be talked about in future years. This year, after the shopping, they went to a Vietnamese restaurant for pho which Phil will remind them next year that he "definitely does not like it". They were back home by 1:30. At 6:30 another tradition began. The family, 11 of them (one family of four missing), went on a short walk so that I could light the candles, turn off the electric lights, put out the hors d’oeuvres and put on The Nutcracker Suite. We ate our traditional meal and then gathered in the living room for the reading of Luke 2 to remind everyone that in the midst of all the excitement of gift buying, gift giving, gift receiving, and parties that it is the birth of the Savior that we celebrate—the Savior who paid for our sins so that we can repent, be forgiven of our sins and return to live with Heavenly Father. Clark knows why we celebrate Christmas but Phil needs a reminder.