No...I didn't just clear my throat, Mihulka is my mother's maiden name. :) And this year, we were lucky enough to celebrate Christmas together as an extended Mihulka family. With my grandma's passing in November, we knew that Christmas would be a bit tough this year for my grandpa. So we decided we would make it special just for him, just like my grandma did every year before.
We gathered at my Uncle Don and Aunt Sue's house in Lincoln. With my 11 aunts and uncles, 16 grandchildren and their spouses and 7 great grandchildren, we had a full house! The day was filled with telling stories from Christmases past, a white elephant gift exchange, and the traditional reading of The Night Before Christmas.
When we were younger, all of the grandkids would huddle around the tree, while Grandma and Grandpa sat on the couch and read this story to us. We were all cuddled up with our fleece pajamas, animal slippers and woobies (blankets). Some of the younger cousins would help Grandpa turn the pages and we would fill in the parts of the story we knew by heart.
One of my uncles (to this day, I'm still not sure which one(s) it was) would disappear at this point and time. And by the end of the story, we'd hear jingle bells and a big bang outside the front doorstep. SANTA WAS HERE! It never failed, the older kids would run to the front door, and there would be large trash bags filled with presents. They would lug them into the front living room, and Grandpa would pass them out one by one, as each cousin's anticipation grew more and more.
I'm not sure if I could tell you exactly what I received as gifts those years, but my memories of Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa's will always be alive in my heart. I can still smell the little smokies, tortilla roll ups, cheese dips, and cookie trays in Grandma's kitchen. And remember the one Christmas Eve we ordered pizza instead. Again, I'm not sure why- maybe someone's main dish went up in flames. I remember the lineup of coolers outside my grandparent's back door. Many labeled with Mihulka...to find the right beverage, I had the upper hand here, ours was the only one labeled Thomas instead. :) I remember the boy cousins downstairs in Grandpa's Shaklee room playing video games that Cousins Chad, Todd and Justin brought. And the tiny stockings lined up above Grandma and Grandpa's fireplace that held Dr. Pepper lip balm and cherry candy canes.
I think that's why I love Christmas so much! I am already trying my best to start Christmas traditions for my family- me and Ryan. :) For the past 2 years, we haven't exchanged presents, just stocking stuffers for the two of us. And I've already started stashing tradition ideas away for future family members. :) Who knows? Maybe I'll be blogging about them someday. Hope you all had a great Christmas, and were able to surround yourself with the love of family and friends.