Christmas Eve - Fortunato Style

Ready to get some presents on!
Traditionally, the Fortunatos have always claimed Christmas Eve. We would all gather at my parents' house for a meal and presents after whatever candlelight service we had attended. Often we would finish the evening with a ride around to see Christmas lights. It has always been lovely in its simplicity.

Last year, however, Matt and I finally pulled the trigger on our own family Christmas morning. Meaning we needed to be in our house Christmas Eve so Santa would know where to bring the presents. We would wake up just a family of four to have our own under the tree moments. So we hosted the Fortunato family for Christmas Eve. Which was actually the day before Christmas Eve (due to the logistics of having multiple family members who play music for Christmas Eve services across town). Well, the new tradition was awesome enough to repeat this year, and hopefully for many years to come.

The family all arrived mid-day on the 23rd (just after I arrived home from Annie's 15-month well-check, which turned up her first ear infection. Poor thing. But she's busting out in the 98th percetile for both height and weight, so clearly we're feeding her enough. 26 pounds!) Presents were opened. Dinner was had. Home Alone was watched. Everyone spent the night. It was truly awesome and I didn't take nearly enough pictures.

Happy despite her ear infection.

A favorite new toy.

Striking a pose before heading to band practice.

Brothers. Dapper, these two!
On Christmas Eve, everyone headed out mid-afternoon. My parents back home so Dad could head up his church service, the boys to our church for band practice. I cleaned house (hosting is no joke, ya'll. Thank God for a working dishwasher!), Annie napped, Violet watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". I was grateful for a quiet afternoon after all the company. Then I bustled everyone into the car for the drive to Buckhead for church. The service was lovely, as always. It's different when you have an active toddler and a tired and slightly overwhelmed preschooler with you alone in the pew. The candlelight service is my absolute most favorite church moment of the year. But my attention was being pulled in roughly 47 different places each minute. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a season, only a season. No candles for us this year, but these things too shall pass. Then, with the band playing "Oh Holy Night" and Violet standing beside me, I picked up my squirming baby and lo, it came to pass that she was silent, mesmerized by the glow of a hundred candles around us. And for just a moment, it was a holy night.

We decided to push our luck by going out to dinner after the service. Last year it was a complete nightmare, the opposite of that silent, holy night. Although come to think of it, there hadn't been room in the inn that night, so perhaps the hour and a half wait for our table was fitting. But never again, I decreed. So after our pastor dropped the hint that he was going to Longhorn and there had been no wait for a table last year, we decided to stalk him and follow suit. Winners! I was worried that both girls would completely lose it, but considering the long day and late hour, they were quite pleasant and all of us enjoyed ourselves. Christmas Eve success!

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