First of all let me wish everyone a very merry Christmas. I hope today has been a special day for all of you. What a wonderful Christmas this has been for me. I've been worried that it would be a bummer because for the first time since 1983 it was only Lisa and I with one child. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with Sarah but I've always had such fun with all of the kids home and total chaos and commotion everywhere. Well I was wrong. It was a wonderful day. For my first story let me go back to about two weeks ago. Sarah's friend Alex Jafek was home from BYU but his family was heading out on a cruise so there was only one day that they could get together. Alex brought his two little brothers over and we ended up pulling out the Nerf guns and having an all out war. We have a plastic tub full of a half dozen Nerf guns and several hundred Nerf darts. Those darts were flying all over the house and we battled until we dropped. Even though we did our best to clean up afterwards we've been finding those darts daily ever since and in the strangest places. I even found a couple today.
To catch up a little bit, last Wednesday after Norbs funeral we took Brandon with us and the four of us went to see the Hotel Del. They always decorate an enormous Christmas tree in their lobby and it is fun to go see it. We also sat out on their deck and ate ice cream.
So this year we broke several long standing traditions. The first one began on Christmas eve. When the kids were little they always acted out the Christmas story and that sort of grew into a talent show. This year we skipped the talent show for a couple of reasons. The main reason is that we were invited out to some friends house for a Christmas Eve dinner. That went late into the night and so it was quite late when we got home. Sarah didn't feel much up to putting on a one woman show so we skipped the talent show. She did get here usual Christmas Even gift. Lisa made her a pair of pajama pants. They had words all over them like "happy", "unique", "funny", "strong", "playful" etc. All words that describe her to a "T".
The next broken tradition was an obvious one to break and that is when the kids would all sleep in the same room on Christmas Eve. Sarah slept in her bed. The crazy girl was then about to set her alarm for 6:30 and I gave her strict instructions to turn the alarm off. She managed to sleep in until 7:30 which was OK with me.
Our next tradition is when we make the kids all wait upstairs until I have the video camera set up and then I video tape them running down the stairs. Sarah gave me strict instructions that I was not tape her. She finally did consent to let me take pictures of her but she felt very weird coming down the stairs by herself. I know I should have just let her come down the stairs with the big people but I couldn't let all of the traditions go in one year.
It was very strange to open all of our presents so fast. We always force the kids to open their presents one at a time so we can all enjoy the surprises together. When we were all home that meant that we were opening presents until well into the afternoon. Today, even with the late start and two phone calls were done presents before ten o'clock.
Then came our best surprise ever. Early this week were thrilled when we received an email from Alex telling us that he was allowed to Skype this year. We could hardly stand ourselves. We've been practicing conference calling on Skype all week long. This morning several of the kids called and while we were talking to Kira she suggested we Skype so we could see the boys. That was very cool, Even showed us his cool "Ironman" play figure. While we were talking to Kira we got a Skype call from Alex. He was testing out his Computer set up to make sure it worked and he saw we were online. It was so wonderful to see him live. He was transferred on Monday too so we also got to meet in new companion Elder Diaz from Paraguay. He seems like a very cool guy. We also got to say "Ola" to the Hermana of the house. I am so grateful to that family for letting Alex talk to us.
Our quick little chat with Alex put us an hour behind and we had people coming for dinner at 2:00. Alex was calling for real at 4:00 so we were a little worried about getting dinner going on time so we could be done in time for our call. Brandon and his family showed up right after our call and then Peter and Maron were here right on time for dinner at 2:00 but we were late and then Joey and Tiffany showed up a little bit late but long before we were ready to eat.
I was just carving the turkey at 3:00 confident that we would be able to be done in time for Alex's call when our computer started "ringing". Alex was calling us. Some how he got the time zones mixed up but we weren't about to tell him to call back an hour later. We quickly put the food in the oven to stay warm and we abandoned our guests while we talked to Alex. I called Ben, Alycia and Kira to tell them to get onto Skype we had a wonderful time visiting. I feel real bad about our guests but what can you do? When your missionary calls twice a year you don't put him on hold.
I'll let Lisa give you the summary of some of the things we talked about but he's obviously loving his mission and it sounds like his Spanish is coming right along. Not long after dinner Brandon started getting sick. The poor boy has been plagued this month with disease. I sure hope he gets lots of rest this next couple of weeks so he can get his body back into shape with a strong immune system. After a couple of hours we left him reading "Catching Fire" while we took Serene and the girls to see the lights at the temple. They're always nice but his year they are even better. Sydney and Hayley had fun playing with the animals in the nativity. I also thought the Temple looked pretty good tonight and I like the picture I got of it.
In one of the neighbourhoods in our community there is one street where the people string lights across the road from one house to another. Driving down the street feels like you're in a tunnel of light. It is really quite beautiful and while this picture doesn't really do it justice hopefully it gives you some idea of what it is like.
So that was our Christmas. Santa was good to me this year. I got some really cool gifts that I love. I got a Blue Ray player that looks really cool. I got Dan Browns new book, "The Lost Symbol", I got a very badly needed wallet, the new "Enterprise" from the latest Star Trek movie, an electronic picture frame that Grandpa Shaw has put hundreds of pictures on including some very cool pictures of Lisa growing up, way more highly refined carbs than I need (I love those chocolate covered cherries Kira), a gift certificate to a restaurant (thanks Alycia) and I'm very excited about my new Android phone. That is a cool story. I've been contemplating giving up my Treo for some time. I love it but Palm just hasn't kept up with Apple and Google and I'd decided to bail on them and go Android.
The other night I talked Lisa into stopping in at the Verizon store to look at some of them. I loved the look of Samsungs "Fascinate" but Motorolla's "Droid" had a few more features. Both of them were regualar $600 and even with a two year contract they were $200 so I decided to get through Christmas first and consider it in January. So last night at dinner Brigham Bagley (the college age son) had just got a new Fascinate. As he was showing me all the cool stuff that it can do he mentioned that the Best Buy had them on sale for $50. We went on line and sure enough, there it was. A $600 phone for $50. This morning under the tree was a wonderful note from my good wife to go online and buy the phone. It was the first thing I did. I can't wait to get it.