Every year we celebrate Christmas with the Willett's on Christmas Eve. It's been a tradition ever since I was a young girl and had to share Christmas between my mother and father. Unfortunately, Christmas Eve is also the day that Valerie's mom loves to celebrate with her family and she has graciously sacraficed year after year so that we could carry on the Willett tradition. This year, Valerie decided she really wanted to celebrate with her mother on Christmas Eve, so the Willett's got together on Saturday at Dad & Valerie's to have an early celebration. Uncle Ken and Aunt Xenia and Jason and Grandma were able to join us (unfortunately, Liana had to work at Macy's due to the Christmas rush and Jenessa had to stay home and work on her final) and Uncle Steve was able to join us as well (Aunt Kelli was in the hospital and Jon just wasn't feeling up to the trip and Kate couldn't drive down from Oakland). Jay and I arrived around 2:00 after dropping Kendall off at LAX for her trip back to Kansas for Christmas and the rest of the family arrived a little later in the afternoon. It was so nice to see everyone! After the disappointment on Thanksgiving we were really hoping that everyone could make it for Christmas. We missed everyone that wasn't there, but were grateful to be together with the ones that made it. Grandma looked amazing! She looked about 15 years younger than the last time I saw her. She had her coloring back and her voice was stronger and she was filled with joy.
Valerie put on an amazing spread as usual. She made chile verde and this incredible chile & cheese casserole that was from a recipe from Isabel (her departed step mother) that was soooooo fattening and soooooooo delicious! Jay and I and Dad & Valerie sat at the "kids" table and allowed the rest of the family to enjoy the comfort of the dining room table. After dinner we had A Christmas Story on in the background and continued to enjoy our visit and then opened presents.
The evening went by much too rapidly, but we were so grateful to share such special memories together and to be surrounded by so much love. We got to catch up on what's new in each other's lives and I continue to be so proud of my family. My cousins have all turned into such amazing young adults and watching Grandma with her boys just fills my heart with so much joy I think it's going to burst! Every time we're with my family, I get all warm and fuzzy inside when I see how well Jay fits in with the rest of the family. It's as if he has been in our lives all along and I cherish him so very much. He truly is a gift from God.