Another Christmas Come and Gone

Santa needed a little helper on Christmas Eve, and I volunteered.  Yes, Santa still visits the Collett home, even though there aren’t any “children” left in it.  Instead, it was full to bursting with teenagers/young adults.

Mason and Alexa returned from school in Idaho several days before Christmas.  Mason had a room waiting for him.  I’m sorry I can’t say the same for Lex.  She’s currently sleeping in the library on an air mattress with one of Mom’s three Christmas trees towering over her.  Poor thing misses her bedroom that Roy and I have been occupying.

With Zac, Simon, Alexa, Mason, Roy, me, and Dad to set up Christmas for, Mom was planning on staying up all night.  So while everyone slept she and I wrapped, taped, tied, and {in one case} cut up and arranged a garbage bag to resemble wrapping paper.

By three o'clock in the morning we were obviously getting a little loopy:


Of course earlier we did all of our Christmas Eve traditions.  I thought I’d record them here, because traditions are made to be passed down and to bring family closer—even closer to generations past.
First, we have our Christmas Eve dinner.  Instead of your typical ham and peas, the last few years we have switched to shepherd’s pie, in honor of the shepherds in the field who saw the angel and followed the star to the stable in Bethlehem.  {Did shepherds actually eat shepherd’s pie?  Probably not, but that’s not what matters, is it.} Sometimes we have it outside, around a campfire and under the starry sky.  This Christmas was unseasonably cold, so we chose to keep in indoors.  Grandma and Grandpa Reay usually attend, and we were happy they were with us again.

Then we read the true Christmas story in the Bible.  This year I read it in Luke.  Short and sweet—the biggest event in the history of the world.

Then we get to open three presents.  When we were little it was two, but Mom has added a Christmas-related book, which of course I’m totally in favor of.  This year I got a true classic, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Roy got an anthology of Christmas stories that has been passed down in my family.

Then we open our ornament for the year and our PJs!  Our ornaments were nutcrackers, and our pjs were leopard print.  Haha-ok only mine were leopard print.  Roy hates pjs {and leopard print}, but the set mom got him is probably the first he’s ever liked.  Seriously, he’s even worn them since!

Normally at this point we would make eggnog shakes, set out the cookies, and settle down with Jim Carrey’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  If you couldn’t tell, that’s a staple story in our family.

We’ve watched the movie together pretty much every Christmas since it came out when I was in sixth grade.  Oh, and we can all quote it word per word {unfortunately for Roy and Simon, who probably would have preferred hearing the dialogue from the actors.}

This year everyone dropped off a little early.  Roy, Dad, and I were the only ones still watching when the credits rolled.  But then they went to bed and I helped Santa.  I also set up a table for Roy, his own little corner for the day.  We’re going to have to make our own traditions for his birthday

At midnight, before Roy was all the way asleep, I heard Simon go into the bedroom and wish Roy a happy birthday.  Right at midnight.  He beat me!  It was cute, though.

In the morning when Roy walked downstairs we sang happy birthday, and then everyone dove at the main tree.  Look who joined our Buckmaster family!

Meet St. Nicholas Weasley Buckmaster.  Roy wanted a dog or a cat but… we’ll start with a fish.

We also gave each other a cool printer!

 We gave and we got until we were all drowning in a heap of wrapping paper and tissue.

There was an inadvertent hat theme this year.

Alexa loves animals.

So does Dad.

Zac's gift to himself. 

 Wow.  Don't we all look chipper in the morning? 

Mom does it all.

Then it was church time, where I sang in the choir with Grandma.

Afterward it was officially Roy’s birthday, with no more distractions.  Dad was picking up Roy’s big gift from where it had been hiding in storage, so I tried to distract Roy on the drive home: Wouldn’t it be nice to go for a drive up the mountain a ways?  Yeah, let’s do it.  Yes, we’re doing it.

He caught on that something was up pretty fast.  Roy always likes to pretend he doesn’t care about his birthday and he would rather people just forget about it and focus on Christmas… but as soon as he knew he had a birthday surprise I could see that tiny little smile and the gleam in his eye.  He was secretly really, really excited.  That made my whole day!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROY!  I covered his eyes and led him into the room while everyone sang happy birthday again.  Me, his parents, and my parents all pitched in and got him a bike!  Remember when his got stolen at our old apartment?  Ever since he’s wanted a good bike.  So thanks to our parents, that dream was possible.

Nothing is better than making Roy that happy.  That’s the best.

 He had requested that we not do any more dessert for the day, so we nixed the whole cake thing.  We were already making ourselves sick with Christmas goodies and whatever we found in our stockings.  I wonder how I can curb that in the future.  Roy being a Christmas baby is actually a fun, interesting challenge.  Unique to us.

To top off his birthday we were able to see his family that night, who flew into Phoenix.  We stayed at their cousin’s house that night and then woke up early to hit the road.  Passports in hand, heading for Mexico.

               And that, my friends… is a hilarious story for another time.

Chestnuts Roasting and Roy's Brain On Fire

Roy is in the middle of his first wave of law exams.  Or, more appropriately, his first tidal wave of law exams.  The entire semester rides on these scores, nothing else counts towards final grades.  No pressure!

I'm amazed by him.  Days ago I would have dropped into the fetal position and started crying.  Although he's talked about how hard it is, he hasn't complained or tried to find ways to procrastinate, like I'm sure I would.  There were several days this last week where he studied twelve straight hours in the library, with a one hour break for lunch.  Seriously.

I've been using my own lunch break to run him Wendy's or Subway sandwiches, reminding him that he needs to refuel.  When I missed a day because I couldn't get out of the office, Roy went without.  He just stayed in that cave of a library and roasted his brains.  So you see how important my job is. 

Even with Christmas decorations going up and all the holiday excitement, Roy refuses to be distracted.

He says it won't really feel like Christmas until he's able to yank his head out of those books.  But he's surrounded by Christmas craziness, all the same.

Mom and my aunts put on a gingerbread house making party for the great grandkids in the family.  {Mom being the only one without a grandkid!}  I didn't get to see the event, but what was left by the time we got home still looked adorable.  Before she whisked away the leftovers, Roy and I put together our own little gingerbread house.

It's our Christmas decoration in our bedroom.  Being at my parent's house for the whole month of December brings back childhood memories.  For example, Mom puts these wintery bedspreads on everyone's beds right after Thanksgiving.  It wasn't until I left Tucson that I realized the rest of the world switches to flannel sheets to keep warm!  At mom's house we do it to be cute and Christmassy.  Roy was stoked we get our own little tree too.

My parent's advent calendar is another childhood decoration I had to document.  This thing has been around for even my earliest Christmas memories.  

 Mason, Alexa, and I used to fight over who got to stick the daily figure onto the felt tree.  I remember waking up, running down the hall, and skidding into the kitchen trying to beat my little sibs to the calendar.

Even though a few elbows were thrown, this was one of our favorite Christmas traditions.  Roy and I better get something like this for our own family next year.

As far as the rest of our decorations, it will be so fun to open our boxes of them next year, since it will have been two years since I saw them.  I'll have forgotten most of them, probably, and they'll feel like new presents! 

Tonight Roy had to lock himself up to study.  Zac, Simon, and I made gingerbread men and rocked out to Christmas music.  I'm bringing some of the cookies to work tomorrow.  The office had a guessing contest to predict the genders of my expecting co-worker's babies, and I said I'd make cookies for the winners.  Lucky them, they get these beautiful creations.  {PS, she's having two girls, if you were curious.}

When baking gingerbread men, be careful they don't come to life.  They'll run away and you'll have one less cookie to eat.

One more final exam for Roy- wish him luck!

Thnx Gvng

Here's the thing about law school and having a real world, full-time job:

You can't just skip town whenever you feel like it.

Roy and I had stayed put for about five months, which is basically a decade in Buckmaster years.
  We were both restless, itching for a road trip.  As soon as we got time off for Thanksgiving, we hit the asphalt.

My family was bummed we were going to miss out on the turkey, but they were pretty understanding.  Thanks guys.  We missed you, but we had an awesome week and I'm so glad we were able to go.

Even if we did eat ourselves sick.

We're hoping that the damage isn't permanent...

Thanksgiving is about getting together with family, right?  We'll Roy and I had left a whole army of family back in Tucson, so we were doing things a little bit backwards.  The only family Roy has in Utah is his sister and brother-in-law, Leah and Jamie.  But it had been a reeeeeally long time since we'd seen them.  Probably since last May.

So it was awesome to hang out with them.  Originally we didn't have any plans.  In fact, we were all considering going out to eat.  You know, Denny's or something ;-).

But Kenny and Andrea intervened.  No friends of theirs were going to have Thanksgiving dinner at Denny's!

So we were taken on by the McAffee family for the day.  I was hesitant to barge in on another family's feast, but Roy is basically like an adopted son of theirs—so I'm adopted by default.

We love this fam!

In the morning the guys all went and played football.  Leah, Andrea, and I cooked.  OK, mostly goofed off.  The cooking didn't really get rolling until Kenny got back from football.

The food was great!  Ah!  I've never been a big fan of turkey, so I really don't know a thing about it, but this looks like some expert carving to me.  (Taylor is studying this art of carving very intently, as you can see.)

This is Beth and her granddaughter Brynne in the steamy, good-smelling kitchen.  Brynne is adorable.  I hung out with this little cutie tons of times when we lived in Utah, but she didn't remember me at all.  Neither did her little brother.  They were shy toward me, and I was lucky if I could get them to smile when I was behind the camera.

 Yet they remembered and loved Roy.  Um excuse me, what is up with that?

The holiday wouldn't have been complete without Andrea's traditional turkey call. 

And people act like I'm some weirdo for not liking turkey...

Ok, trying not to be a total baby stalker, but Dione and Taylor have the cutest little kids.  Check out how photogenic this little boy is!

After a most delicious dinner {Every year I overdo it on the mashed potatoes.  Every year.} we met up with more extended family to eat more and play games.  I wasn't prepared for how many people know Roy.  Kenny's grandparents, uncles, aunts, I mean seriously... these boys spent way too much time together before they met their wives.  Ha!  Love it.

We played a cracker-busting game which I so thoroughly enjoyed, I have decided to make it a Buckmaster tradition.  We will play every Thanksgiving, and I will kick butt every year, even when I'm a grandma.


You tie soda crackers to your belt loops, one on each side.  Then you roll up a newspaper as your weapon.  You and everyone else run around trying to crunch as many crackers as possible, thwacking people your weapon.  The last person with a cracker in tact wins the game! 

Honestly I think I won because no one knew me well enough to smack me around with a newspaper.  The first half of the game I mostly watched, and then reached out and thwacked if someone backed into my corner.  It was working pretty well.  But when it got down to the last handful, no one held back anymore.  I lost two different newspapers in the battle!

It got down to Beth, Kenny, and me.  A little cousin offered me her weapon, since mine had both crumpled.  Kenny saw it and shouted, "NO!"

Quite dramatic.  But after one smack I realized why he didn't want me to have this one.  The little girl had fortified her newspaper with ridiculous amounts of tape.  I wouldn't be surprised if she'd hidden some PVC pipe in there! 

In the end, I had a tiny scrap of cracker left, which made me the winner.  Kenny had four welts on his left leg and a purple spot on his eyelid.
WOW!  I really didn't mean to do that.  I didn't remember coming even close to his eyes {seriously, the crackers are on your belt loops, not your ear lobes}!  But I blame it on that totally illegal weapon.  Don't trust me with those things!

Um... thanks for inviting us to your Thanksgiving, I'm sorry I beat the crap out of you.

Later that night we four headed over to Carson and Shellena's.  They kept Story awake late just so I could see her cute face that I hadn't seen in almost six months!

Did you just melt? 
Yeah, I was basically a puddle for the whole week.

Story is a smiley one.  Really all you had to do to get her to crack a grin was to smile at her.  So precious.  Last time I saw her she was just barely learning to roll over—I can't believe how fast babies grow!

Laura, I got a picture of her playing with that book you got her!

And tearing the book...

And eating the book...

Pretty sure she loved it.

We spent the rest of the week between Kenny and Andrea's house and Carson and Shellena's.  It was like old times.  There were several moments when I felt like Roy and I were going to jump in our car and head down the street to our apartment in Springville.

But since we didn't really have our apartment in Springville, we had limited time to hang out together.  That meant every night was a late one, taking advantage of our short visit.
And late nights can get a little crazy.  Once night we stayed up and played Dare Dice.

Let's just say it involved batteries on your tongue, ice cream in your fist, and socks in your mouth... the late night, delirious humor of middle school.

Roy rolled the lowest number about 70% of the time, no joke.  Poor guy.  I believe three of us laughed ourselves to tears at some point.

We had such a great time.  We went to the movies, went to the park, went to Temple Square, met up briefly with a few other friends in Salt Lake {we love the Smedleys!}, did a little black Friday shopping, did a few other things—but we always had the most fun just hanging out and talking or playing games.

We brought our Christmas gifts up for them.  They had huge red tags on them that said "Don't Open 'Til Xmas."
              *cough cough, Andrea*
But we let Story open hers early.


See how much she loves being a wildcat? 
We thought we were pretty hilarious getting her this little U of A shirt.  We took about 20 pictures with her and our three matching "A"s. 

In fact, I took about a billion pictures of Story throughout our time there, but I didn't get a single picture with Carson and Shellena.  SAD!!!!  Sorry guys, that's what happen when you have a smiley, adorable kid.  She kind of takes the spotlight.

But for real, we miss our besties!  It was so much fun to be able to spend the week with them.  Pretty soon Carson and Shellena will be moving to California for film school and our reunions will be a little more complicated, but we'll make it happen.

Grateful for good friends.
Grateful for great family.
Thanks everybody who took us in and made our Thanksgiving unforgettable!