Surprises, joy + blessings galore: Our 2011 Holidaze

85 mph. That’s our family’s pace. And we wouldn’t have it any other way! The only time for our family Christmas photo was 10 minutes on a Sunday evening in our living room. More indelible moments of this magical season…

Mistletoe?! Our family Christmas photo outtakes are, ahem, interesting.
(almost) all the Hansen cousins pyramided up during Christmas in North Dakota.
In mid-December, our holiday baking peaked with 18 dozen cutout cookies. I baked, Julia and her friends decorated! (I'm still finding decor on the floor.)
Julia and her awesome friends. They also went caroling (sorry, neighbors.)
Kind family cousins at Seasons Christmas dinner theatre, compliments of my tradition-loving dad. We've been there 14 straight years. Thanks, Grandpa Jerry!

  Best part of the season: MUSIC!

Caroline’s music concert
Matty's choir concert
Our angel Caroline at the church Christmas Nativity pageant.
Caroline and her singin' teacher, the amazing Ms. Jansen. She is surely one of the greatest gifts to us this year. Lucky little Cara and her classmates!


Our Nutcracker tradition continues....

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, our hearts sang with music from the historic organ, piano, trumpets, trombone and bells at Messiah in Fargo. Welcome to the world, indeed, Baby Jesus! 

A Vegas wedding! 

Vegas, baby. The Bellagio water show was the view from our hotel room.
They Do!
Dare you to not catch Christmas spirit amidst Vegas' decorations. This is my fave, the Wynn.

 Christmas in North Dakota 

Cousin Dale's restored home decked out in true style! | photo credit: Kayla Hansen
Dale's fireplace room. Much better with Jim's eggnog in hand.
Rare get-together
It’s been at least 7 years since most of Greg’s family has been together. We were close this Christmas, with only 4 there in spirit only: Newlywed Derek, Ill Mike, Workin’ in Arizona Mathew and Jon, in heaven. Kayla was not supposed to join us, but she and Adam drove over to surprise everyone on Christmas Day! Adam, you’re gonna fit in just fine to this clan.
Kayla even surprised her mom and dad with her Christmas Day arrival.
The whole Hansen clan (almost...)
Grandma and her Granddaughters | photo credit: Dave Hansen
Grandpa and his Grandsons (except Newlywed Derek, Workin' Mathew and Jon, in Heaven)
The "'89ers," recreating the photo taken the year they were born {Josh, Kayla, Michael}
Here are the cousins IN 1989.
Nothing is ‘just a game’
Outdoor hockey, indoor Just Dance dance off, board games and other competition galore. No grudges lasted too long…

For the record, Jules Ruled
 Other memories:
– Sneaking out for breakfast with my sweetie while our kids slumbered on
– Hockey, hockey, hockey – great tournament action, hockey parent parties and teammate sleepovers
– Sickness struck the kids and I a few days before Christmas (lesson = do your elf duties early)
– Greg spent Christmas Day ill in bed; Matt came down and detailed dinner to him  
– A bittersweet funeral in Grand Forks for Greg’s buddy Todd’s beloved mom; her husband’s heartbreaking + heartwarming eulogy
– Julia in two soccer tourneys, scoring goals, playing goalie and back in action
– A photo I choose to forget (MRI of my torn up ACL and knee cartilage); surgery 1/10
– Quiet moments with all those I hold so dear
And, of course, the unchanged blessing of Jesus’ arrival.
Hope your holiday memories are joyful. Now, hello 2012. Let’s do this!

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