Sage, Lucy and their cousin Ellie had a lot of shared TV-watching to catch up on.
This being our first visit to my parents' new house, we were sure to take advantage of the lake in their backyard. The weather was cool--low 50s and foggy for most of the trip, but warm enough for chilly East Coasters like us. (And by the way, thank you Grandma Clawson for all the wonderful, flannel pajamas. I can't remember when I've had such warm pajamas--you put store brands to shame.)
During the two weeks we were there, I think just about every single family member took charge of one meal or another. As always, Aunt Christie tried to duck the paparazzi, but you can't hide forever, Coosh.
All our photos from Christmas morning have a blurry, ebullient sense of motion. Not surprising, considering there were 17 of us in my parents' living room. That night we enacted the Christmas pageant with a full cast.
Uncle "Moneybags" Bob was very thoughtful in giving our family a Nintendo DS, which was a boon on the plane ride home. As the picture shows, the DS has somehow managed to become a unifying rather than divisive force among our kids. Thanks, Bob. It's good to have an uncle like you.
The day after Christmas we played with Aunt Tiffany and cousins Ellie and Eric at playground in a nearby gated community. The entire area, my parents' neighborhood included, was nothing but one gated community after another. In other news, Lucy found Boxing Day to be a great disappointment.
A day trip to Lake Tahoe satisfied my hankering both for snow and for the landscape of the West. Good thing, because I think I was starting to pine.
The path to the overlook point was closed, so we weren't able to test the claim about being able to see 100-feet down into the lake, but it was clear and blue and beautiful. It was so zen that K. and I even tried a little meditation (which K. is very good at and and I am very not).
You couldn't ask for a more picturesque backdrop than the Sierra Nevadas. Later we went snowmobiling on a golf course surrounded by sunlit, craggy peaks. Not bad for a three-hour round trip.
On New Year's Day (Mom's birthday) Dad drove us to Sutter's Mill to see where the Gold Rush began. Mish and Kyle filled their heads with knowledge.
Dad explained and expounded. Ian and I panned for gold in the frigid waters by the mill, but sadly I think that I will still have to pay for his college education.
Here's most of the fam celebrating Mom's 39th birthday. Doesn't Mom look young? (and don't we look like a happy family?)
A day or so later Mom and Dad showed us Old Sacramento and the California State Railroad Museum. Here it was discovered that Lucy's spirit animal is the locomotive.
Of course I'm leaving all sorts of good memories out. My brother-in-law Joe brought the family together by hauling his Guitar Hero equipment (including drum set) all the way from Hawaii so that "Carry On My Wayward Son" could get stuck in our collective unconscious. Bob got out his DDR mats so that we could all be entertained by synchronized hopping. Dad, Christie, Bryce, Tiff, Mish, Kyle, K. and I sang "This is the Christ" in four part harmony for my parent's congregation, and then spent Sunday afternoon singing through all the hymn arrangements my Dad has composed over the years. Then there were all the moments just sitting around and talking with Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters, spouses, nieces and nephews. We so rarely get to see everyone anymore, but by any measure this was a wonderful trip. Faith, fun, and family. That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.