Saturday was the annual downtown Christmas celebration. The day is filled with events for families. We began the day at home with a big breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausage. With our bodies full of warm, satisfying food, we set out to do a bit of shopping. The United Methodist Church hosts Santa's Secret Shop each year. It is a fantastic service to the community. You're invited to drop your kids off for an hour to do independent shopping. We take them inside and sign them in with the head elf who gives them a name tag and a number. She then turns each child over to their own personal shopping assistant elf who asks them exactly how many people they need to shop for (you can send them with a list!). They take them downstairs to the shop and help them choose, purchase and wrap their gifts. Gifts are priced $1-10. When shopping is completed, they are escorted to a room where they watch Christmas movies and partake of cookies and hot cocoa until their parents return to pick them up. We gave each of the kids $10 to spend on the sibling whose name they drew this year. When we picked them up they had $18 in change and had purchased a couple things for Lincoln and me as well. We were a little concerned that perhaps they just got junk, but we shall see. I remember thinking the same thing last year and being pleasantly surprised on Christmas morning. They love being able to do this, though. It means so much more to them to go in without Mom and Dad breathing down their necks making suggestions. Plus, Lincoln and I get an hour to do some of our own shopping. (We kept Jesse with us, but he's still totally unaware as we put things in the cart while he's looking the other way.)
After shopping, we came home and had some lunch, then Jesse and Lincoln napped while I took the other kids ice skating. This was a first for everyone but Kennedy.
Let me tell you, I was having some regrets when we first got there. Renie cried from the time I started getting her ready at home, right straight on through the first 45 minutes of skating. Let me back up and say that I was not planning on bringing her at all. She threw a fit about being left behind, so I let her come along. Then she threw a fit about everything she could think of for the next solid hour. Neither she nor Devon could even stand on their skates on the ice at first, so I was dragging them both around, trying to help them get a feel for it. There were little walker things for little kids to use to help them stand, but we couldn't get our hands on one for quite some time. More than once I spotted an abandoned one and sent Kennedy after it and this one little kid kept zipping across the ice and grabbing them right before Kennedy got there--and then used it for herself! I was ready to trip her. Here I am, I haven't been on skates myself in years, and I'm dragging two non-skaters around and can't get to one of those things before the incredibly annoying and obnoxious child. And where is the kid's parent anyway? Another 8 or 9 year old girl was sitting on the ice, not skating, but had 3 adults guarding her claimed apparatus. Kennedy asked for it for us and they wouldn't give it to her. Sometimes I really despise people. My faith in humanity was restored later when this sweet little girl saw us struggling and brought us one. In fact, by the time we were done, 2 or 3 little kids did that.
Kids in a heap.
By the end, Devon was able to skate a bit on his own. He fell a lot, but he did it.
Renie did really well holding my hand, and skated independently a little tiny bit, (after she finally finished her fit.)
She refused to wear the mittens I brought for her, so she didn't like holding onto this cold metal thing. It sure made life easier for me, though!
Julia picked it up very quickly and was soon skating around like an old pro.
In the end, everyone had a great time and can't wait to go again. Everyone wants skates for Christmas now.
We took a Christmas movie break after skating and I made homemade pizza, carmelitas, and hot cocoa for later.
At 6:00 we went to the Christmas parade. We really enjoy this event every year. I'm not sure why, but we do.
Waiting for the parade to start.
Jesse watching up the street for a fire truck. They spaced everything out really far this year. I don't know if it was an attempt to make the parade last longer, but I'd like the powers to be to know that we're fine with a 15 minute winter parade. Really.
The best float was a nod to A Christmas Story.
Renie scored a bird's eye view.
Santa actually showed up in a one horse open sleigh this year.
After the parade we ate the yummys I had made earlier, finished the movie we had started, and played Ticket to Ride with the two big girls. Once the kids were in bed, Lincoln and i snuggled onto the couch with hot cocoa and watched another Christmas movie.
It was a perfect, fun-filled, Christmasy Saturday.