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  • Writer's pictureElijah Ricks

Christmas 2021

This week was packed full of last preparations for the big holiday, and then the big day itself.

Last Sunday, Kira was feeling a little sick with a bit of a sniffle and such. The boys were also still a little bit under the weather, so I figured I would just act like everything was normal and see if they put up a fight to go to church. They didn't, so I sent them. I was so very tired that I did the unthinkable and went back to bed. What's even crazier is that I actually slept. I'm a little freaked out by the whole thing.

When I awoke, I started preparing chicken parmesan for our big meal. It was a lot of work, but it turned out well, at least, thanks to help from Avey and Hannah. Carver even loved his gluten-free version, so that's a win. After cleanup and feeding the other boys (who refused to try my food), Hannah took Apollo to play with his doggy friend, and then it was a standard afternoon. That evening was the stake Christmas program in which I was playing the horn. Merritt, of course, put up an enormous fight at the notion of getting back in church clothes to go to another church building that day. He finally agreed to get dressed if he didn't have to take off his pajamas underneath his church clothes. That was interesting, because his pajamas were his black ones with a skeleton on top - probably very noticeable under a white shirt. Still, no one said anything.

The concert went about as well as I could have hoped. My transpositions were correct this time. The only problem was that I had no idea what order the music was in, and I didn't have a chance to grab a program. Nobody had ever decided the order (or at least had never made it a point to tell me about it), so I just had to be ready at any moment to play any song. Anyway, with that behind us, we all headed home for a very late bedtime. Jesse's topic of conversation on the way home was about becoming an "agent" for his job. It took some probing to figure out what he meant by that, but it seems like he wants to be some kind of detective or spy.

Monday, Kira got up to get ready for her long day. She had a chiropractor appointment and then her clients. I messed with the kids at home. Carver was on a screen for every minute of the day. I figured I'd let him do it for his first full day on Christmas break, but it was hard for me to bite my tongue. Jesse rode his bike and played with neighbor kids. Avey holed up in her room for most of the day, and Merritt helped me in the backyard with some projects. First we raked up some leaves and burned them:

That was productive.

He then played on the playset and trampoline while I pruned our two backyard trees. I took off some large branches so that it will be easier to mow in the spring (without hitting my head). They look much better now.

After lunch, we took Apollo to play with his friend, and then I took the younger two boys to a park. Kira was home at bedtime, and Hannah came over, finally feeling a little better from her cold that hit her hard.

Tuesday, Kira was up early with her brain focusing on tasks. She did breakfast for the kids, and got going on planning her day and making lists of things that had to get done. I had a meeting with a student over the computer, and then took all of the boys and Apollo to a park. It was cold, but we still have no snow in these parts. We then went home to meet up with Carver's friend who came to play for a while. After dinner, Avey and Kira were planning a big shopping trip. Kira felt probably the worst she had from her whole cold, but she muscled through the night to take on the stores. Hannah came over to watch a movie with me, but we lost track of time and finished it way past our bedtimes.

Wednesday was pretty standard. I took down the frame I'd made for the blanket fort, as its novelty had worn off and it was taking up space. I then went up on the roof to check the gutters and make sure they were clear of the last leaves that had fallen. Kira spent most of the day helping the boys get gifts together for each other. The boys were big jerks to each other all day - probably bored with the dumb weather, tired from too many later nights, and anxious for Christmas.

Ever since I replaced that tube to the gas tank on the truck, I'd tried to take it for a drive each day to see if the check-engine light stayed off. I took it out that day to check out a used hardware store I like and see if there were any better dressers for Avey. There was one on hold for someone, so I decided to bring Avey the next day just in case it was still available. The engine light stayed off all week, the longest it had been off since I tried anything, but then on Christmas it came back on for the same problem. I have one more idea - to replace the second old tube from the fuel tank filler neck, and then I'll have to have a mechanic do another smoke test.

I went on a bike ride around the neighborhood with the boys, but it was so very cold, we didn't last long. Kira took off to drop some gifts off to people in the branch and get some other stuff done for church. Hannah came over for her last night here for the year. She would go to Colorado the next day, and so she opened all of her gifts from us and we opened all of ours from her. With an early morning coming, we all went to bed as soon as we could that night.

Merritt's Gift Template to Everybody

Thursday I was up very early to drive Hannah to the airport. I was surprised by how much traffic there was at that hour, but we had only a brief delay. On the way home, I stopped by the hardware store for a few supplies to replace all of the leaf spring rebound clips on the truck, and grabbed myself breakfast as a reward for taking Hannah. She was there in plenty of time, and kept us updated on her travel. I helped with breakfast at home, and then went to nap for a little while. I then replaced the rebound clips, much happier with my new ones, and then played with the two youngest with some puzzle toys to keep them from a mutiny. Avey and I checked out the dresser at that store, but it was sold by then...

Friday was cloudy and muddy, so it didn't feel much like Christmas Eve. Still, Kira surprised us with donuts for breakfast. The kids then played well together (shocking us all), and then started a Christmas movie. I was feeling the need to feel productive, so I took Apollo on a long walk on some hiking trails. It was muddy, but pleasantly cool, so that was nice. Kira had the boys doing all sorts of wrapping of presents, Jesse announced several times that he would hold a meeting in our room at 5:30 that night, so he gathered us all, put us in assigned seats on the floor, and then stood on our bed and gave a speech about how they would have a battle to decide who would get to wake up Mom and Dad in the morning. It came down to a pillow fight, and Jesse and Carver won the privilege to wake us up.

We got the boys to bed, and then stuffed stockings and put out some last gifts. I had worked on making a removable top for the kids' little art table. I glued on several Lego baseplates hoping that would be a fun thing for the boys to try out, so I placed that out for them.

It was mostly made of old ones that we had, so forgive the lack of uniformity.

Anyway, we all went to bed, but I heard the boys stomping around at 4:45 a.m. They were very loud, and so I just got up to see if I could manage them. I had half hoped to see them playing blissfully at the Lego table, but they barely noticed it. Merritt was the only one to even say anything about it. Oh well - maybe in a few weeks it will interest them. I'll still play with it...

Apollo Destroys His Stuffed Mallard Gift

With still another hour or so before they were allowed to wake the ladies, I got two bowls (one gluten-free) prepped with the ingredients for pancakes, and I got out bacon to thaw. The ladies came down and it was the standard madness of presents! The kids made a great haul this year, thanks to very generous gifts from family and friends. There was so much to do, they almost couldn't decide what to play with when.

The Boys Chase Around a Mini-drone

They were back and forth among several activities throughout the day. We had so many gifts to open that we actually took a break for our pancakes and then came back to finish the gifts. Kira then went for a nap while I fed the boys lunch and got them interested in a park. Kira awoke just as we were about to load up the car, so she opted to come along. She chased the boys around while I let Apollo explore. They were the only kids at the park the whole time, but they had a good outing. Avey was home setting up her new laptop, enjoying the peace and quiet, and doing whatever else she wanted.

Once home, I took the boxes to a nearby recycling drop-off, and that's when the truck's check-engine light came back on after 10 days off. That almost ruined Christmas for me, but at least I have a game plan. I made it home and then broke the brand-new watch Kira had given me. I knocked it off a half-wall and it landed just wrong enough to shatter the glass cover. That's why I can't have nice things...

Overall, it was a very good Christmas. We are so thankful for all that we have, and especially for each other. Thanks to all of you who help make it better!

Today was just Sacrament Meeting at church, and Kira was speaking. She also signed up the family to do a musical number, so we all went. She spoke about Christmas, but I was so busy keeping Merritt occupied that I caught about a third of it. We then did our songs - I played guitar while the rest sang "Christmas Bells," and then we all sang "Angels We Have Heard on High." After the meeting was the branch's Christmas party, so we all ate and mingled. There was a brief nativity program by the Primary, with our kids each playing a part.

We are having a pretty standard Sunday afternoon so far. Kira's excited to have no clients tomorrow, and a relatively free schedule for several days. We're sure to fill up the time somehow.

See you next year!

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