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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Family Christmas Parties 2007-2010

I came home from the cruise and evaluated our Christmas experience.  It made me think of Christmas traditions from the past. For four years in a row (2007-2010) David and I hosted the Rasmussen Christmas party in our Laurelwood home.  I loved it.  Having a blended family can be difficult, especially during the holidays.  There are lots of traditions to combine and emotions are already heightened during the holidays.  For me, those four years were an opportunity to create a new tradition.  I looked forward to the decorations and activities, and planned weeks in advance.
It was a fun tradition, and I miss it.

The first year we had dinner and then a cousin gift exchange.

I still have this toy that Benjamin gave Jacob.  Heidi was so thoughtful to pick a toy that Jacob could play with even though he wasn't crawling.  It's now one of Oliver's favorite toys.

Austin got a pretend leaf blower.  His one-eye-pirate-smile is classic.

I love this picture of Heidi and Benjamin.  
National Geographic once said that the perfect picture is of a mother looking at her child.  I agree.

We also did a sibling gift exchange.

I was really excited to act out the nativity just as my Scott family had done every year with the Thackers.  I borrowed some costumes from Karen Cottle's mom and worked up a short script.  The costumes were great and really added to the experience.  I tried to keep "back stage" under control and cue each character when it was there part.

My sister-in-law, Heidi Thornock, accompanied us on the piano.

One of my memories of this first nativity was of my niece, Rebecca.  
She played an angel and stood so well for the entire program.  She's a sweet girl.

I was also impressed with how well the little ones paid attention and stayed in costume.  Austin, below, was a great wise man riding in on the stuffed horse that we pretended was a camel.
I could tell, however, that next year we needed a shorter script.

Here's our group on that first Christmas in 2007.
This group picture became a great way to track how the children grew each year.


 We had a lot of people join us for this year's family Christmas party.  Elizabeth's friends, the Hathaways, were there and all my single brother-in-laws brought dates. Who would have guessed that these two beauties, below, would shortly become my new sister-in-laws?

Melora Smith and John had been friends for years.  She had always been our favorite of all the girls John dated.  I remember how excited we all were when he brought her to Elizabeth and Scott's surprise wedding anniversary dinner.  It doesn't take long to make a first impression, and my impression of Melora was all positive. We were really excited when they started dating.  She's a joy.

This was also the first time I met Chase's future wife, Carly Cowser. They had gone to high school together and knew of each other, casually.  They met again at BYU at a Ballroom dance class.  (Can't help it- ballroom dancing in our blood. It's always a great way to meet your future spouse.  Worked for me and David!) I remember the first time I saw Carly when Chase brought her to this Christmas party.  I almost had a visceral response. I just knew, instantly, that she was the one for Chase. I think I even told them that on this night.  Ha! Chase and I have been very close, especially when his mother was dying.  Chase is the same age as many of the young women I served with when I was Young Women's President.  I knew his peers.  He and I talked a lot.  I made it a point to be at every activity of his that I could his Senior year of High School.  Then, David and I took Chase to BYU Idaho when he started college. I wrote to him religiously on his mission. He is very dear to me, and I knew the woman he would choose to marry would have to be pretty special.  She is.

After borrowing the Christmas nativity costumes last year, I was determined to make my own this year.  I enlisted Emily's sewing expertise.  It was an arduous and time consuming project. I was thrilled, however, with the results.  I especially liked coordinating fabrics and finding the right color and style for each character.

I don't have a lot of pictures of this Christmas.  It was a very busy year.  Between me and David we had four siblings get married in a five month period-- three weddings within six weeks.
Chase and Carly starting off the wedding season with a reception in our home on June 13th.  My brother, Cameron, and his bride, Jana, were married October 16th. My sister, Brianna, and her groom, Tyson, were married November 7th.  John married Melora November 27th.  On top of all the marital bliss I had a miscarriage and afterwards enlisted in an intense 90 day physical fitness program.  It was an intense year.

I do remember that instead of doing sibling gifts, we decided to each bring a treat to exchange.
Marty brought the boxes of Twinkies on the right.  Who would have known that in a few short years those golden cupcakes with vanilla filling would be obsolete?

This was our last Christmas in the Laurelwood house before our move.
Consequently, it was the last family Christmas party we hosted.

This year instead of sibling gifts or a treat exchange we decided to do a service project and make dolls for children at Primary Children's Medical Center.  Lizzy had spent some time there that particular year, and it seemed fitting to do a service project for the hospital.
Emily and Elizabeth spearheaded the project.

By December we had officially added my new mother-in-law, Carolyn Nebeker, to the family. 
She and Marty were married September 17th.

 It's sad to admit that this was one of the few times when the entire family was together. Which also mades it an extra special time to catch up on each other's lives.

 After dinner everyone took their places for the program.
By this year the program was a lot shorter.
We played the chimes, sang a few songs,
the narrators read a few passages,
and the children played their parts.

(Emily is so good with her book of Christmas music for the chimes.  
It's one of my favorite parts of the Christmas program tradition.) 

I look back, now, on how young Nataleigh was then.
It's just another reminder of how fast time flies.  She looks so precious here.
She was so excited when it was her year to play Mary.

For some reason I felt like this year lacked the gusto we had for the years prior.  Perhaps it was because we knew we were moving and we were getting into "launch mode".  Perhaps it just became more exhausting to wrestle the children on a late night, or perhaps everyone was tired of the same program and we needed a change. I'm not quite sure.  I still look back on these family Christmas parties with great fondness.  Now that we live far away, the memories are even more important.
(Left to right: Nathan, Austin, Rebecca, Julia Nebeker, Sarah, Andrew, Nataleigh, Lizzy, Benjamin, Landon and Ethan.

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