Christmas 2000 brought the entire family together. Everyone except Jansen was at our home. We were fortunate to be able to speak to Jansen by phone in Novosibirsk at 6:00 PM on Christmas Eve, which was 6:00 AM on Christmas for him. It was really nice to talk to him again.

Jackie and Jerica got new dresses that they wore to church on Christmas Eve. They both look very nice in them, don't you agree? Gee, they look like angels!

Joy flew in from Provo on Thursday, the 21st. It was great to have her with us again. She decided to make a Costa Rican soup for dinner on Saturday, the 23rd, something she remembers from her mission and for which she found a recipe on the Internet. Despite stopping at all the markets between Edina and Oakdale, 30 miles away, she never found all the ingredients (in fact, some were things she had never heard of and we couldn't find English translations for, because they just aren't available in the U.S.), but since the recipe said "put in all vegetables available", she figured we'd be okay. She did find plantains, yuca and chayote, but the tiquisque alluded us (it appears to be some kind of root). It turned out to be very good, and almost everyone really liked it.
On Christmas Eve we had Elders Slade and Hartwell and Lia and Amber Zellers over for dinner. Lia brought her own fresh Italian herbs with her and put together some great spaghetti and meat balls, based on cooking skills she learned from her grandmother. Lia also made an eggplant dish that was really good. So we had lots of good Italian food, and no one left hungry. Oh well, it's only once a year!
Pictured here, from the bottom left, clockwise, are Millicent (a friend of Julie's from Tanzania), Jill, Elder Slade, Elder Hartwell, Lia, Joy, Jerica, Amber, Jackie and Julie (well, not much of her). John was taking the picture.

Julie brought her new harp with her and played lots of nice things for us. Visit her page for more details, including a recording of one of her numbers. Jill and John woke up on Christmas morning to her playing, which was a real treat.

Jordan, Kelly and Ethan came over about 8:30 AM, then we started opening the presents. Here we're all watching Ethan play with a musical toy he got from Julie. He was pretty excited about all the gadgets and the sounds it makes. Jordan is on the floor working his video camera.
Can you see how excited Ethan is about Christmas? Actually, Christmas Eve and Christmas day were pretty hard on him and his normal routine.
There were some surprise presents, such as the hats Joy gave to Jordan, Kelly, Ethan and Jill (somehow we didn't get pictures). Joy figured out how to make them and knitted them herself. Quite a talent!

Jerica was really surprised to find the accordian she had wished for. She took right off learning to play it. Perhaps even more surprised was John to find an accordian for him from Jill. It even has his name on it! We may be hearing some accordian duets before long.