But I don't want this to sound like different is bad. Because it was still a wonderful and delightful holiday! And we did get to be with Rebekah in a sense. Thanks to Skype we were able to chat with her in England for nearly two hours on Christmas afternoon. And that truly was the the highlight of the day, seeing as we hadn't been able to talk to Rebekah since she left back in May for the MTC.
On Christmas Eve Bryan's parents came for dinner and to spend the evening with us. Bryan introduced them to a new game on the iPad called Alphabetty back at Thanksgiving. (Julianne thinks the name is ridiculous and has since re-dubbed it Wordle, but I digress....) Seeing as they are fans of word games in general (think Upwords, Scrabble and the like) they really took to this game and the three of them spent a lot of time on the couch coming up with more and more complicated words between them.
Later that evening Julianne went outside to exchange gifts with her boyfriend...and I could hear them giggling up a storm. I think there was candy canes and kisses involved along with the actual gifts. But once again, I digress. It was pretty late by the time Julianne came in and I was very tired. But Santa duties still called. So after getting Lilian into bed, despite the fact that Brandon and Julianne were still awake downstairs...I told them that it was time for Santa to come and if they were still going to be roaming around, they needed to at least close their eyes for a few minutes so I could gather things (from Rebekah's room which had become gift wrap central this year) and go back upstairs. They were instructed to not come up again. And to not wake me in the morning before 9:00. And then Santa did her thing and went to bed!
True to their promise, it wasn't till 9:00 that I got a call on my cell phone informing me that they were awake downstairs and would really like to get started on the big day. I was already up and getting dressed when they called so after waking Bryan, we headed out to see what Santa had brought. A big breakfast followed and we gathered around the tree to open the gifts.
(Funny story behind these sweatshirts. I bought them back in 1990 for the Sadie Hawkins dance that Bryan and I went to together in high school. He took his on his mission with him a few months later and that might have been the end of it...except we got married. So we had two of these shirts. He wears his a lot, but I rarely wear mine. In fact it has been in a box under my bed for the past few years. When the kids realized I still had mine they insisted I find it and pull it out. Both Julianne and Brandon have worn it during the past few weeks. But you can definitely tell which shirt has been worn more!)
Rebekah called around 1:00 PM Utah time, 8:00 PM England time. I originally thought we'd only get an hour or so but was delighted when we got to chat for so much longer. Did I mention it was the highlight of my day? Yes? Well, it was. Probably for all of us. We sure miss our British missionary girl. I was a little worried her face would pop up on the screen and I'd completely lose it...like in a serious ugly cry sort of way. But I didn't! I was so relieved that everything had worked so smoothly with getting connected on Skype (because I'd had anxiety about that as well) that we started into our conversation and I only got slightly misty. Granted, I did cry pretty hard when we had our family prayer near the end. And when we said our goodbyes I held it together with minimal tears until we signed off. And then I headed to the kitchen to make dinner with kleenex in hand and the announcement that I was probably going to cry for a few minutes...
My parents came for Christmas dinner. And unfortunately for them, I was an hour behind in prep seeing as we got to talk to Rebekah for longer than expected. I was certainly not feeling overly bad about that though! So we talked while Bryan and I cooked and then we had a lovely ham and potatoes Christmas feast and all was happy and well. It was a really great day. Just....a bit different.
The next day we had a party at my parents house with my side of the family. Books were the gift theme because we are mostly a family of readers. But we expanded things a bit this year to include games or movies just in case. The kids all ran around and played with cousins. The adults congregated in the living room and talked and laughed. Rachel Face Timed in from Virginia. And we all had a delightful time.
(Oh, how I love my sisters!!!)