christmas with grandma & grandpa … & lots of cacti

we had talked with ian’s parents about coming to arizona to spend christmas with them in 2020. this was before we found out we were having twins and before we’d ever heard the word “covid” – ha! so christmas 2020 in arizona became christmas 2021 in arizona. we lucked out that ian’s brother and his family – who we hadn’t seen for years! – also made plans to spend christmas with granda & grandpa wright. it was really wonderful to be with family for the holiday.

it was a happy reunion when we got to the gilbert arizona mission home (ian’s parents are the mission leaders there – overseeing a couple hundred young missionaries). we played outside and then when it got dark we got to see grandma’s magnificent from-scratch gingerbread house. she makes these every year, complete with stained glass windows and amazing candy snow on the roofs. ian had introduced me to this wright family christmas tradition when we were dating and i love it. we’ve made a from-scratch gingerbread house together every year using his mom’s recipes / instructions / patterns, but this year it was so great to be with grandma – the master – and do it with her! the boys admired the house already built by grandma on our first night and the next day got to work with her and their cousins on building and decorating another one!

christmas eve morning: first decorating the christmas tree with grandpa:

and then gingerbread-house-ing with grandma!

the final product had a chimney, stained glass windows, gingerbread men making snow angels and going down a gingerbread slide and climbing up pretzel ladders in the yard, a gingerbread train, peppermint paths, pez bricks, balconies and awnings, icicles, candy cane lamp posts – the whole nine yards!

i spent a chunk of the day preparing a middle eastern meal for everyone (for dinner we were joined by ian’s grandpa and aunt and uncle and cousin!). i was excited to share our “jerusalem supper” tradition with everyone. we had a lovely candlelight meal and then the kids got dressed up to act out the nativity as grandpa read the christmas story from the scriptures.

mary and joseph:

and a shepherd taking his role very seriously:

in the morning the cousins woke up grandma & grandpa by loudly singing christmas carols outside their bedroom door and then all the kids were delighted to find that, even though santa had come to their homes in utah and florida, he also dropped by grandma & grandpa’s house and stuffed their stockings! we also had a cousin gift exchange and it was so fun to see the children so excited to give to each other. and the three babies just playing, kind of oblivious that it was a special day 🙂

after some christmas morning crepes and playing with new toys, our little family headed out to a church service – something we do each christmas day (the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints doesn’t have services on christmas day unless it falls on a sunday). we found a cathedral in gilbert that had a lovely service (and, thank goodness, a “cry room,” where we didn’t have to worry as much about keeping the kiddos quiet!). i love this tradition to keep us focused on christ on christmas!

after church, we took a little family adventure to saguaro national park! it was a bit of a drive but worth it – the concentration of (funky cool) cacti is incredible. we took a short walk and let the kids run wild for a while and it was a memorable christmas day activity!

we drove back to grandma & grandpa’s and had a nice christmas dinner with extended family (i should have taken a photo of the kids with their great grandpa!). and we had our traditional birthday cake for jesus!

the next day we all went to church together and after church ian and the kids and i got to meet up with some of our very best friends from london at a park. the finters had been in arizona for a few months visiting family and working remotely, and it was so great to see them. the kids (who have known each other since practically infancy!) picked up right where they left off and played together so well and ian and i were so happy to catch up with nina and landon, and meet their new baby girl!

after we got back to grandma & grandpa’s, it was time for gingerbread house demolition! the kids were overjoyed.

love that these cousins got to bond this christmas!!

we hit the road the next morning – on the way back to provo we had three stops: sedona, the grand canyon, and capitol reef national park (and a couple detours to other points of interest, too).

it was pretty special this year to essentially have two christmases! one at home and one with extended family.


  1. Ooohh… I would love for you to share your recipes for this delicious looking Middle Eastern Christmas dinner. Would you mind?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s