After dinner we had our gift exchange. The kids all exchange names and it's always so much fun to see what they get.
Here is Michelle proudly displaying her gift - a pair of Toms from her brother-in-law. Toms is a great company that donates a pair of shoes to a child in a third world country for every pair they sell.
Three sisters being a bit silly.
Brad and Michelle brought all of us special gifts from Peru. Michelle gave her sister's fingerless gloves knit by hand from alpaca.
I received a beautiful alpaca scarf:
Some Peruvian hats were gifted as well:
We did things a little bit backwards this year. We opened gifts first and then we decorated the tree. Every year since they were born, I have made my girls a Christmas ornament. This year I found the sweetest one. It is the little Christmas Robin that is at the top of my blog. I have had it there for a while and the girls never suspected it was their ornament! The one in my blog header is not one that I knit - but I found the pattern on Ravelry (my new favorite internet hang-out).
And after the ornaments we told our traditional tale of our first Christmas as a married couple. Here is my husband placing the star on the tree.
The girls putting on their ornaments.
We had a wonderful family evening together that was way too short and has already been filed in the official "Ryan Family Memories".
I have always made a special Christmas ornament for our church board members each year as well. It is just a token of my love and appreciation for our church board and the way they always have taken such good care of us. The hardest part has become finding a new idea to make each year. This year I chose to embroider an ornament. Red work has always fascinated me and I decided to give it a try. So I sketched a simple picture and went to work. I added a red wool felt background with a sparkly red ribbon. I really love the simplicity of it.
And finally, I wanted to share a fun idea I used this year. At our church we sign up to help decorate for Christmas. This year I signed up to do the big tree in the foyer. I wanted it to be fun and special because it is the first tree you see when you enter. I also wanted to do something the children would enjoy. I remembered watching Cinderella and loving the part where the sweet little birds decorate her ballgown. I started researching some ideas on the internet and I came up with this idea:
Jessica helped me by climbing the ladder up to the very high ceiling to attach the birds on fishing line. I never could have climbed that high. But I love how it turned out and it is fun to watch the kids when they see it.
I'm sure your list of things to do by Christmas seems just as daunting as mine does. Just this week alone I have three parties to attend, many gifts to complete, and I haven't even really started shopping. You just gotta' love it!