This brief visit was just an afternoon. We ate a big-time home style meal created by Eric's dad, with help from sister Jessica. If my memory serves me right, I think we ate pheasant, duck, chicken, squash, sweet potatoes, wild asparagus, rolls, garlic bread, tossed salad, spinach/bean soup, bread stuffing, pumpkin pie, and chocolate mint cookies.
I don't have pictures this year, but for some reason a highlight of the Christmastime visit is always the electric train. This was Grandpa's electric train when he was a child, which he sets up in his bedroom for the kids. They love to watch it race around the track, and I love to think about how many decades that antique train has been puffing along. Not to be morbid, but I imagine that train will certainly outlast it's owner... being a sweet reminder in decades to come.
We "opened" gifts of course. As of late, Grandpa Patenaude has a strange affection for all things sparkly, so many of the gifts were some kind of precious metal or stone. He gave a lot of the grand kids solid silver dollars from the year they were born, which is cool. He also handed out silver bracelets, necklaces, and jewel studded rings to the women. The men got hunting knives with glistening blades, as well as work coats, gloves, hats. Random gift- Eva received a Cabbage Patch doll. Gift time at the farm is always a bit of a grab bag. I guess Grandpa buys things that he thinks are special, then hands them out as the Spirit leads... often without wrapping or ribbons. The gifts reflect the giver- surprising, unusual, sometimes eccentric. They provide us with lots of funny memories and opportunities for pictures! In all honesty though, there are often many useful, thoughtful items too!
I know Grandpa Patenaude spends a lot of time dreaming and planning for our visits, because he always has some show-stopping activity up his sleeve. One year it was an elaborate, homemade carnival game complete with chintzy prize gallery. This year, it was the old Polaris Colt snowmobile pulling a train of two sleds. So fun for everyone, despite the wickedly cold weather.