I couldn’t wait for Annie to go to bed on Christmas Eve so Santa could come. She had other ideas. My cousin Leah and her boyfriend Ted were staying over, and Annie thought this was the GREATEST! THING! EVER! She was wired and it took her forever to come down from the thrill of having people at her house. Once she finally fell asleep, we got to work.

before Santa came
The tree, before Santa came

Leah and I carried out presents and then we went to bed. I was too excited to sleep. I couldn’t wait to see Annie on Christmas morning.

waiting for the house to wake up
First one awake

Soon, my parents, aunt, and brother came over, and the presents were overflowing.

after Santa came
Presents for thirteen people (and a dog)

While Annie slept, the adults opened a few presents.

from Rigby
From Rigby to Mike

no WAY!
No way!!

Then the littlest one woke up, and it was time for the magic.


She said, “Santa! Presents!!” and went right up and started touching the boxes.

opening a present
Oh boy!

We sat her down and put some presents in front of her. She slowly and carefully removed the wrapping, as if the paper itself was a present. She squealed and cheered over every gift, and wanted to play with everything immediately.

Elmo books!
Elmo books!

oooh for babies!
A stroller!

Then she kindly helped the rest of us open our gifts.


When we were done, we took her to the playroom, where she discovered one last gift from Santa:


A playhouse! I bet Santa and Santa’s dad had a super-fun time putting that together!

wow Rigby, look!

As she walked around it she kept saying, “Rigby, LOOK! Rigby, LOOK!”

the ribbon-cutting ceremony
The ribbon-cutting ceremony

Her excitement and happiness was everything I’d hoped for and the only thing I wanted.

As the day progressed, more aunts and uncles and friends came over, until we had a full-house. We ate, drank, and played.

Tia Leah and Unlce Kyle
Tia Leah and Uncle Kyle

snack time
Food stations!

Scrabble Scorekeeper

As my family and friends gathered in my house, I stood back for a moment to take it all in. I am so lucky. I wanted to start Christmas traditions in the new house for Annabel, and we did it. I don’t take any of it for granted.

Even though a piece of us was missing, it was a wonderful day. Only 364 days until Christmas.

The Spohrs, Christmas 2011