Well, we had a great time celebrating with our families. Christmas is always a two day event in our family. My wife's parents are from Germany and Austria, so their tradition is to open gifts on Christmas Eve. My son got something he has wanted for a long time, an Apple iTouch (think of an iPhone, just without the actual phone component). We had fun seeing the kids reactions to their various presents (Nick smiled broadly when he saw Season 2 of the anime series BLEACH, and Karina about flipped when she realized what I'd gotten her... a book on cosplay costumes from Japan).
I asked the family to not worry about getting me presents this year (I reasoned that it was my own money they were spending, and while I loved the sentiment, a handmade card or a hug from my kids and wife and a Merry Christmas wish was good enough for me). Well, my son was *not* going to stand for that (LOL!). He decided that he was going to get me a Christmas present,and since he had the money to do it, he figured it was perfectly alright to do so. So what does my son get his dad? An awesome art book called "All Color but the Black" (drawings and illustrations by Tite Kubo, the artist for the original "BLEACH" manga).
Another neat gift that the family received this year was totally unexpected. It came in the mail from a "distant relative" :). On a forum that I participate in, I discovered a family that shares my great-great-great grandfather, John Pack. I've had the opportunity over the past few years to get to know this family, celebrate their up times, feel concern about their down times, and feel really happy for them when the father of the family came back from serving overseas in Iraq. For fun, I sent them a gift of a DVD they were interested in a few months ago as an "early Christmas present". Well, what should my wondering eyes see... a few days ago, in the mail, appeared a gorgeous hand knitted afghan from my distant cousins. It was a really neat gift, one that my children commandeered immediately (LOL!). More to the point, it was just a fun feeling to have a connection at Christmas with a part of my family that I have never met, yet in some ways I've had more interaction with them than I have with people who are much more closely related to me. The takeaway from this one is that family is who you make it to be and who you nurture an effort to make a part of yourself :).
Christmas Day is always the day of my family getting together, so we pack up the family and drive out to Danville to spend the day with my parents, my siblings and their families. One of the coolest revelations of this Christmas? Both of my sisters are getting married! We knew about Adrienne's engagement for a couple of months now, but Renee sprung the news on us yesterday. We are very excited for both of them, as the guys they will be marrying are terrific and will be very welcome additions to our family.
So today, I will be kicking it at home, helping to put away a number of new items the kids got, shedding some things that could probably find a better home elsewhere, maybe perusing a couple of episodes of "Samurai 7" (a Christmas present I gave myself :) ), and just feeling good about the fact that this Christmas was a very enjoyable and ultimately relatively stress free day, spent with the people we most waned to spend it, and in celebration of whose life it was meant to commemorate.