Thursday, December 20, 2007

VFC 2007!!

Well, it's official. We just completed our 15th Annual Vaughn Family Christmas (VFC) !! We started VFC back in 1992, the first year that my older brother Gary got married that summer. We started with some fun traditions (some that we did not do growing up as a family) and have added and taken away over the years. Some of our VFC gatherings have not always included every member of my family due to other conflicts but I believe everyone is there in spirit. With 3 boys and spouse's family schedules to work around, VFC is a great way for us to have several days together with my parents during the holiday season. This year was no exception - what a fun time we had together. Here's a recap:

Friday Night: One of the newest traditions (that I think my sister-in-law Toni helped create but I'm not for sure) was we usually have one meal that consists of Pizza Hut and Sonic drinks. It's not very "Christmasy" but we all love it so it's part of our VFC tradition. This year, it was fun to have our first evening together at Randy & Kelly's new place. The only sad part for us all was that Kelly and Timothy were unable to be there. They were coming in from Abilene and hit a major traffic jam due to an accident on I-20 where they were stuck for hours. Not a fun way to start off VFC for them!! We certainly missed them. We also enjoyed for dessert some of my carrot cake. This cake is the best cake (if I must say so but check out Brady's reaction in the photo below!! HA) and its a recipe of my Aunt Ann (my Mom's sister). I decided many years ago that I wanted to learn how to make it so I've been doing this for most of the VFCs.

Saturday: The day was going to start off with a bang around 9:30. My Mom (a former school teacher of 25+ years) had a large collection of books that she had hoped to donate to someone who could use them. We saw this as a way to use as a teachable moment for our kids to give back, especially during the holidays. God led us to Emily Tindall (the daughter of one of our Children's Ministers at RHCC) who is a social worker at an elementary school. This school has very limited funds for buying books so these books were going to be a much welcomed gift for the school and the kids. Emily arrived to find all of the kids with 4 or 5 books to present to her as part of a "ceremonial" gift. We presented her with close to 30 books but there were 2 more full boxes to give to her later. We just didn't want her to be saddled with all these books in her car so we had the kids present her with a few books as part of the "giving back". It was a great morning activity.

Later that morning, while Emily was still there, we asked her to take our family photo. That's another VFC tradition we've held firm to over the past 15 years. It's neat to see how our family has grown. Again, not every year do we have everyone in the photo, but it helps us keep track of who was present that particular year. We certainly missed Gary and his family this year. Oh and did I mention the VFC Scrapbook? Yes, we have one of those too!! It's 98% complete and is so fun to look at and reflect.

After Emily left, we ventured into 2 of our other VFC traditions: The "Twas the Night" game and the kids Christmas gift opening. The "Twas the Night" game started several years ago and is alot of fun. We read the "Twas the Night Before Christmas" book together. And each person has a small brown paper sack to hold. During the reading, if you hear the word "AND" you have to pass your bag to the person on the right. Then if you hear the word "THE", you have to pass it to your left. Of course, as you read the story chaos ensues!! :) Especially when you have 2 to 4 year old's in the mix!! At the end of the story everyone opens up their bag to reveal their surprise. My mom runs the "prizes" and lately these bags are always filled with money. They range from $1-2 up to the big winner - the $20 bill. Congrats Timothy for being the big winner!!

After the reading, we decided the kids needed some good play time so we let them open up their Christmas gifts. It was so fun to see all of their faces during this event. And it was an EVENT when you saw the mess afterwards!! HA Seriously though, I think each kid had something special that they immediately fell in love with.

After lunch, we settled into some nap time for the kids and some good visiting with each other. There had been talk of going to a movie but between the reviews we read and the blistering cold wind, we decided to hunker down indoors.

While the small kids were napping, we were able to do another fun VFC tradition: the Chinese Christmas!! This has evolved over time but it's always fun. Over the past several years, we've been doing it the same way. Each adult has a black shoebox (we bought them all at the same place) and they put a gift inside the box. It's not wrapped but we put colored bows on each box. We draw #'s and then the game begins. This is the traditional "open or steal" kind of game which always is fun for us. As part of this tradition, we have a special gift that no one wants though. One of the boxes always includes the "Rappin' Santa". It stays with the person all year long and they are in charge of bringing it back the following year. And with the black boxes all looking the same, the person who had it could end up with it again if they aren't careful. That didn't happen this year but it was close enough. Kendra got Rappin' Santa in 2006 and I ended up with him in 2007!! For those who don't know what a "Rappin' Santa" is, let me explain. It's a small plush toy that is shaped like a Christmas Tree with bells on it. When you shake it, it turns into a "rappin Santa' singing a version of Jingle Bells. It's really pretty funny ... unless you get it!! HA It was brought into VFC approximately 1995 right after Randy and Kelly got married if I remember it right. Here's a picture of the unlucky winner!

Later that afternoon, we went to our Saturday evening service at RHCC which was great. Afterwards, we ate dinner at the church (leftovers from lunch much to Kelly's disappointment!! HA ~ hey, let's add Taco Bueno to the VFC tradition list!!) and then got in 2 vehicles to drive around and look at Christmas lights. It was a fun time, especially for the little ones to see all the lights. And it was a great ending to a great day.

Sunday: We all met at the Gaylord Texan hotel to see the sights and sounds of the season. This is always a fun place to visit during the holidays. The kids enjoyed the Gingerbread House, the trains and they all got to see Santa as well. I thought our kids picture turned out really well.

After the Gaylord, we met back at the house for lunch. We spent the next several hours napping (VFC is exhausting!! HA) and visiting which was fun. Of course, the Cowboys were playing at 3:00 so that made it's way into the VFC 2007 agenda. They played awful so we decided to order some On the Border fajitas to help wash away our woes!!

After dinner, Mom had arranged for each of the kids to have their own "fun game" like the adults had Saturday with the Chinese Christmas. This game was more of a scavenger hunt as the kids had to locate their present somewhere in the house. Nana (my mom) had hid their gifts in various places. It was a fun game for them and something else for them to play with as we ventured into our final event. That was the adults Christmas exchange. We had fun opening presents and I know personally I came out great!!! Thanks Santa!!

And there you have it!! VFC 2007 is complete. We are all looking forward to what VFC 2008 holds and where it will be. Hopefully we can all be together as a family if it works out. If not, as we always do, we celebrate our Vaughn Family with those that can be there. And celebrating our family is what VFC is all about. Hope you enjoyed the recap!!

Blessed be your name,

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Greetings from Mike

I like this ad ... it's Mike Huckabee who is running for President on the Republican side.

For more on why I like Mike, go to And for those who might not like Mike for one reason or another, read my post from last month on my explanation for supporting Mike Huckabee.

Blessed be your name,