in the midst of all the gift giving and opening, we got a phone call. mom almost flew out of her seat as soon as she heard that ringer! it was chad, my brother in the military who wasn't able to join us for the festivities. he had, though, sent gifts for all of us that we were able to open that night. we put a stop to all the prizes for a while so that we could chat with him and help him feel included on all the christmas fun. the phone was passed around so that we all got to say hi and thank you and hear what he was up to. the best part is seeing the kids talking on the phone to him- its just so cute! we were so thankful to hear from him and hear that everything is going well over there. mom and papa were thrilled, as always, to talk to him and mom was especially pleased that he was able to call when all of us were there. we all certainly missed him this year and hope he will be able to join us next year!