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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A different Christmas Eve

 Our first morning at sea we woke up to see blue water all around us. 
Jacob used the new spyglass he got from our early Christmas to look out over the ocean.  
As he explored, he saw whales breeching and the waves rolling behind the boat.
He was most surprised to see...

Grandma and Grandpa??

Just a few balconies down from us we found Grandma and Grandpa on their balcony enjoying the early morning.  We were shocked to see them so close to us. 

Then, one by one, all the families came out of their cabins to their balconies. We took up the entire back of the boat!  It was so fun to be so close. We asked the steward to open the doors between our balconies so we could easily come and go between most of the rooms.  It was like a private outdoor hallway connecting everyone together. 
What fun!

We spent the entire day at sea traveling to Mexico.

It was a great day to explore the ship and experience things like the live entertainment.
The most fun of the "Holiday Show" was watching Brittany and Quincy dance to the music.

We found the miniature golf course on the top deck.  
Check out that beautiful view!

We had lots of golf pros on board.

And lots of fun golfing and goofing around.

Nataleigh and I loved being in the warm sun.

Here's a picture of Brittany near the top deck.  
The maximum capacity is 3,000 guests plus over 1,000 crew.  
That's a lot of people on one boat!

That evening, Christmas Eve, was one of our two "dressy" dinners.
It was fun to dress up and feel festive.

After dinner all the couples were invited to dance.  Cameron and Jana were darling.

Brianna and Tyson had fun dancing with Taryn.

With all the fun on the cruise I have to note that for as long as I can remember being home for Christmas meant Christmas Eve traditions with the Thackers.  My Mom has been blessed to live just a few minutes from her sister and the Thacker family.  We grew up with our cousins living just a stone's throw away.  We were in different high schools and had different Church boundaries, but we still had loads of fun.

Christmas Even traditions at the Thackers include:
Yummy appetizers like crab wantons that the Thackers only make on Christmas Eve.

Beautiful Christmas decorations.

A festive dinner with tables filling the entire dinning room and living room.
A Christmas program.
 It started one year with Ashleigh and Allison doing a talent show.  Slowly it evolved into an evening of piano, guitar, singing, and of course our favorite....the chimes.

One year Brittany had pipes cut to resonate different notes.  The entire group worked together, each playing his or her chime when it comes to their part of the song.  It always takes us one or two songs to warm up. The conductor (Brittany, left, and Alyson, right) helped us all stay on the right notes.

Oh the concentration required to know when to hit your chime.  Fun!


Each year there was always something unique.  
One year Uncle Ted dressed up and read us the Polar Express.  One year the return missionaries in the families sang Silent Night in the different languages of their missions: Russian, Polish, Spanish, French and Swedish.  Another year Uncle Ted made a great slide show telling the story of Christ's life.  
We even had Santa come to visit one year.

  Of course each year we acted out the nativity. 

Some of our reenactments got a bit rowdy.  
One year the three wise man became the three dancing Amigos.  "Feliz Navidad!!" they sang.
One year Mary accidentally shot a shepherd with her gun. (???)

Regardless of any uncontrollable chaos at the manger, we sang songs, read the Christmas account in Luke, and celebrated the true meaning on Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ.


It's sad to think that as our families continue to grow it is more and more difficult to get together. Perhaps there will come a time when we can't all meet in the same place.  That will be a very sad day.  

So many of my childhood traditions are intertwined with our Thackers cousins.  
As we sailed to Mexico in a large cruise ship with 3,000 other passengers, 
this Christmas Eve was different.  

My Mom and Dad have always told the missionaries in our family to celebrate the uniqueness of a Missionary Christmas.  You only have one of two Christmas celebrations on a mission.  Make the best of it, they would instruct.  Similarly, this year we celebrated a unique Christmas Cruise.  We enjoyed every minute, but we still missed the Thackers on Christmas Eve.

Happy Christmas Eve

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