The upside of not being in California for Christmas is that California Christmas comes to us.  More than one day of presents?! What’s not to love?

The kids had dreamed up an idyllic moment, set in the morning with the presents under the tree and frenzied tearing open of packages while it quietly snowed outside.  When Mama Syd’s suitcases were stuck in Denver, that thought quickly went out the window.  Instead, there was anxious waiting for the bags and then a tortuous few hours spent staring at the securely zipped behemoths in the living room.  We went for a swim (Yes, it was 21 degrees outside with a blowing snow advisory when we headed to the aquatic center.  It seemed all sorts of wrong but ended up being so right.), then Terra Sancta for Mass and a potluck with the sems (And Susan!  We missed you!), saw a brand-new baby and even got an anointing for Max ALL before we got to the presents.  They were like wolves when the time came.  Really.

It was very merry.

The highlight, in my book, was the doll Ellie received.  It looks like her sister and it is hers. All hers.  She rocked her and chattered and we asked the baby’s name.  She looked startled and then confused. “On her birthday.  I’ll give her a name on her birthday.”  We were surprised and asked for clarification about the birthday business.  “Okay, well I think I’m naming her Christmas Tree.”  “Christmas Tree?  Thaaaat’s niiiiice. . .  What will you call her?”  There were some ideas thrown out but she seemed preoccupied.  “Well, she needs a saint name.  Right?  A saint name. . . I choose St. Louis.”

Christmas Tree St. Louis is the newest member of the fam.  She’s got a seat at the table and everything.

California Christmases are awesome.