I am told the kids all woke up around 4:30 am Christmas morning. I didn’t hear a thing, thankfully. David heard them and sent them all back to bed till 6am. At 6am I heard David get back out of bed and he told me the kids would all be up so he was headed to turn the lights on the Christmas tree. The tree is on the back deck of the boat, but the presents were all inside so the dew wouldn’t get them all wet. As you can see in the pictures, the sun was not up yet, but we started opening presents anyway. We didn’t have many to open since we had one BIG present for all of us. The kids had each gotten each other a gift (mostly dollar store trinkets) and then David and I got 2 or 3 things for each of the kids, mostly books—a very useful gift for the boat. After they opened all their little presents and played with them a bit, we got out the BIG present. It was a box we had wrapped. Inside were clues to the BIG gift.
I had warned the kids that I was not buying them any toys this year, because we were just doing this one BIG gift for the family. I am not sure they believed me, but I tried to prep them. We don’t have room on the boat for a lot of toys, and what more do they need? I didn’t need to bother prepping them, as the dollar store gifts that they had each gotten each other were great toys that they loved playing with. Plus—in a few weeks, if they hadn’t broken yet, they could mysteriously disappear and not really be missed.
When they opened the big box, inside they found a smaller wrapped present for each kid and a shoebox. They each opened their present at the same time and pulled out a Disney tee shirt. Then they rushed to the shoe box and found their Disney hats, pins and lanyards. They immediately knew what their gift was—a trip to Disney World.
Since we had arrived in Florida, the month before, the kids had been talking about “when” could be go to Disney World. If we were out shopping one would ask for a toy or even a candy bar, and another would say “no, don’t ask for it—we need to save money so we can go to Disney World”. We had been talking with the kids about budgeting and saving money for special trips and things we want. They put in a good effort of remembering that if they wanted to go to Disney World they would need to sacrifice other things they might want to save for the trip. Needless to say, they were very excited.
Then they wanted to know “when?” They knew our friends, the Despain family, were arriving that night to spend a week on the boat with us. So we let them know that a week from today, we would leave the boat and ALL go to Disney World together. That made them more excited. They were thrilled to be going with their friends.
After all the excitement, it was time for a special Christmas Breakfast. A few years ago I came upon the most delicious Baked French Toast recipe by Paula Deen, with a carmelized pecan praline topping. It is soooo delicious, just writing about it makes me want to make it again. This has become our holiday tradition for Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s Day Breakfast.
After Breakfast we finished getting dressed for Church. We were at the mooring field in Vero Beach so we had to dinghy to shore where our bikes were locked up and then ride them 5 miles to church. It was a pleasant Christmas morning and we arrived at church just in time. The ward here had prepared a lovely musical sacrament meeting remembering the birth of our Savior. Only sacrament meeting was held, no other meetings, so we loaded back on the bikes and headed back to the boat. We had a busy afternoon.
Each year we make a gingerbread house—usually before Christmas. We don’t actually like eating the gingerbread houses when we’re done, but we like the fun family activity of building it together. This year I had decided I would make the gingerbread house from scratch. We have always just purchased a box kit in the past. But I hoped that by making it, we would enjoy eating it. And I was right. Homemade is much yummier, as it is with most things.
Because I had been sick for most of December, I didn’t find the energy to make the Gingerbread House until just before Christmas, and then it needs a day or 2 to dry out so it is stiff enough to stand up. I had bought a cookie cutter set for the walls and roof pieces, which made it easy to make sure all the pieces would easily fit together.
On Christmas afternoon, we were busy decorating our house. As I was researched what to use to “glue” the house together, I came across a recommendation of just using melted sugar. So that is what we did and it worked great. I just melted white sugar in a fry pan and painted it onto the seams and stuck the walls and roof on, and within 30 mins it was sturdy and ready for decorating. Grandma Kate had brought us a great supply of candy at Thanksgiving, so we got out the box from her to decorate with. I whipped up a sugar cookie frosting and spread that on the roof and “ground” of the house and the kids had a great time decorating. This year, we really enjoyed eating our finished product. Both the gingerbread and the frosting were delicious!