Our trip to Philadelphia this holiday was just downright magical. It's probably a good thing my mom lives far far away otherwise I would be at her house way too much. It envelops you with warmth the minute you walk in. She prepares for weeks, stocking the freezer with our favorite baked goods, getting the guest rooms personalized down to tiny details like your preferred bar of soap. With two nurses and a doctor in the family, it will probably be a while before we can all get together I under one roof for Christmas again so there was just this extra special feeling of everyone being together, being whole. We created a huge list of all the things we wanted to do together and we got done the vast majority of them. I think some people might feel over scheduled if they peaked into my family vacations but for me it's therapeutic. I heard this talk given once about "rituals". How they are very important parts of our lives and they help us get more out of our experiences because we first plan and prepare and look forward to the ritual, then participate in the actual ritual, and finally reminisce, write, and look at pictures from it. You get three times more enjoyment out of life that way! What a glorious ritual it is to be home for Christmas.


Family run followed by chocolate chip pancakes at Hank's. It's this awesome family owned diner 5 miles from my parents and we confuse and overwhelm them when we come in with our crowd of 12. Yum.

The 76ers Basketball Game
Evan kept telling me this is one of the coolest things he's ever done in his life! My parents met the ONeil family through their ward and have become great friends. Scott just happens to be the CEO of the Sixers and hooked us up with all kinds of gear, we went down on the court before the game for the Shoot Around with the players, then dinner in one of the stadium clubs and back to court side seats for the game. Winston had a wild ride this night as he was overwhelmed with joy being completely immersed in basketball mania, but also really struggled with the concept of "watching" the game rather than playing it. Super fun night.

Zumba- this was my little sisters request, that we do a family Zumba class. Some people take themselves too seriously and couldn't hack it but this was one of the best hours of my trip! Tanner was hamming it up and the old ladies in our class thought they had died and gone to heaven

Star Wars marathon- it recently came to my husbands attention that I'd never seen Star Wars and he has been anticipating this part of the break for a while. I definitely appreciated the original movies, and I enjoyed the new one too. The prequels though we're not my cup of tea. Please Anikan do us all a favor and stop whining. My dad installed a serious home theatre over the summer so it was a blast to put it to good use, snack bar and all. For Christmas, each of the siblings picked a quote frm one of my Dad's favorite movies and made prints for him to hang in the movie theater. They turned out so cool, I'm excited to see them all up! Tanner wanted to do a quote from Gettysburg but my mom suggested a different one from Princess Bride. He got confused and used the quote from Princess Bride but attributed it to Robert E Lee in his frame. We laughed so hard when my dad opened it and now any time someone says a well known quote Tanner insists it is from Robert E Lee regardless of the source. These two naughties were left out of most of the movie nights so one night Winston snuck out of his room and went and found his iPad and took it into Cosette's room, climbed into her crib and they watched a movie together. We didn't discover them until midnight when we reemerged from the basement and they were having a ball! I couldn't even be mad I just laughed about it the rest of he night.

Gingerbread House contest- real proud of how ours turned out! I always find these activities so fascinating because they totally reveal people's personalities in a creative way.

Caroling at the hospital- One of my sisters good friends from school had a horrible accident back in March where his entire family was exposed to poisonous fumes and they have been in the hospital ever since. We went to visit them on Christmas Eve and took them around to sing songs to the other patients on their floor. There was one little girl in particular,named Miracle, who just lit up like the sun when we sang. My eyes filled with tears and I vowed in my heart to make this kind of service a Christmas Eve tradition.

Christmas Day- gift opening and spoiling each other and relaxing. I got a fancy new camera and I am excited to learn how to use it!!

Sibling gift exchange- Beca had to work Christmas Eve and Christmas so we saved our big gift exchange for her arrival. We used so no one knew who each other had and you had to stand and give a milk and cookies toast about your recipient before giving them their gift.  Sami took the cake this year, she gave the most thoughtful speech and gift to Evan but my personal favorite part of it was the clip-on Man Bun. Seriously laughed so hard!

Jesus' Birthday- On Sunday we made a cake with the kids and called it Jesus' birthday cake. Everyone had a candle and after dinner we went around the table and said a gift we were giving to Christ this year for his birthday and then sang to him. This was a new tradition I wanted to try this year and I think I'll make it our main even on Christmas Day in the future to keep the focus on the only thing that really matters about Christmas.

Gettysburg- the boys took a trip to Gettysburg which is a two hour drive from West Chester. History buffs getting their fix.

Country dancing lessons- Tanner taught us all some new moves and my hubs revealed his secret talent.

 Nerf gun war- A  long standing tradition. This is not abusive- my parents dog loves to catch Nerf darts in his mouth and Winston thought it was hysterical.

Disney on ice- Winston is getting closer and closer to the magical age for Disneyland.  He was singing and dancing along with the characters this made me so excited to take him there some day soon


  1. I feel like a creeper, commenting on such an old post, but I can't not. One of my family's things to do is say famous quotes in a Robert E Lee voice (from Gettysburg). I think the favorite is "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife." You'll have to introduce that twist the next time you are with your family.


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