For most of my growing up years, we did not live by any relatives. For Christmas Eve, it was always our tradition to get together with friends. This year we invited the same group of friends that we had last year. We had Cassaundra and her two kids, Ellis and Troy, GG and Ronnie, whom we have adopted as grandparents and the Lipseys (Brenda, Luvinia and Joe---Brenda's husband Tyrone was supposed to join us, but due to mechanical problems with his truck, he got stuck in Arkansas and didn't make it---poor guy!). Jayson's brother, Joel, who lives about an hour and a half away also came with his family. Joel is in the Army and they recently found out they are going to be transferred to Colorado, so this will be their last year with us.
The "Adult" table. Last year we had to nix the tablecloth, charger plates, candles, etc and go with paper products (for the safety of the dishes and the babies). This year, thanks in part to Rudolph, we were able to have a beautiful table :-)
The quints: Kassidy, Kyndall, Ryder, Kaydence and Rustin. No charger plates or Christmas dishes for them, but they did get a Christmas Tree place card holder with their name on it. (At the end of the evening when everything was gathered up, there were exactly five broken trees---coincidence??---I think not.)
Following dinner we did our annual reenactment of the Christmas Story from the bible and sang Christmas Carols. Everyone had a great time getting dressed up, but the nativity itself was a bit chaotic. Mary got bored of sitting in the manger after about one minute. The angels ditched their robes and the shepherds were more interested in using their canes as weapons than they were in visiting the "baby Jesus". The wise men were confused and weren't sure where to lay their gifts (cell phones as we were fresh out of gold, frankincense and myrrh) for the baby. But despite the chaos, I think everyone enjoyed it.
Attempting to sing "Christmas Bells are Ringing" with hand bells. First I let the older kids use the bells, but the babies were screaming so loud that nobody could hear them. Then we let the babies have a turn at the bells, and it didn't sound much better! Maybe the bells will go over better next year :-)
Another one of our Christmas Eve traditions is that the kids all get to open one present. The present is always new pajamas. This year the boys got dinosaur jammies and the girls got ballerina jammies.
After the jammies are opened and put on, we take more and more and more pictures! At my house, the boys always complained about taking pictures (in fact I think the complaining has become part of the tradition) and the girls retaliated by coming up with more poses and people combinations.
Another tradition: the Christmas photo-shoot always ends with a "pile" picture. With so many kids, in a few years, this one will be really painful :-)