Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas Recap

I have to admit I'm a little embarrassed to see that I haven't posted since October! Is anyone even out there anymore? Lucky for you, one of my NYE Resolutions is to be a better blogger- to keep my family and friends (and other readers?) informed about the on-goings of my life. More about my resolutions this weekend!

Moving on, I wanted to share a recap of our Christmas season! MW and I are both Christmas people, so our halls were decked nice and early this year so that we could enjoy them. We wrapped our patio banister with red ribbon and lights, topped with a big bow. MW had the great idea to string lights in our hallway leading to the bedroom, creating a lit up "christmas tree" pattern! And of course we have our tree, standing proudly in the living room- Gus's favorite feature (he can't get enough of the water and unfortunately has a UTI as a result!!). 

Christmas this year was busy busy for us. This was the first year we decided to spend Christmas together, and it was so wonderful to spend my favorite holiday with the person I share my life with. It also gave me a nice chunk of time off from work, which I thoroughly savored. 

We spent a few days with MW's family- the first year all the siblings and their significant others were all in attendance for Christmas! Their Christmas was held a little early to accommodate work and travel plans and it was so lovely of them to do so. 
The day we arrived was "Christmas Eve" and MW's parents cooked a delicious spread!

I met Big Sister's man for the first time (yes, it was the first!)

 Lil Sis and her boo were also there (and matching?) 

The whole fam (minus MW) enjoying Dinner. 
I was especially floored by MW's dad's grilled ham. It was so sweet and juicy and such a perfect texture, it's making my mouth water just remembering it. Of course, all the food was outstanding (as always)!

After dinner we, naturally, had a photo shoot. 

(I adore this one!)

Then we played cards. And I would like the record to state that I did not lose (uhem, MW). 
I love the companionship of playing cards (or board games). I remember as a kid, sleeping in my Nana and Papa's living room pull out couch and peeking into the kitchen to see the adults playing cards. That's what adults did. I'm now an adult, and I feel that way every time I play cards. 

We had Christmas morning the following day. I say 'morning' but in the MW family, Christmas lasts all day. And that's beautiful. The day starts with a gigantic breakfast (and I now know why) of eggs, bacon, ham, bagels, and potatoes. Their family tradition is for dad to deliver each gift and watch as that person opens it. Then of course everyone gushes about how wonderful it matches the person (especially if MW's mom picked it out). It really is a great way to savor and appreciate all the thought that went into the gifts. 

I am so grateful for the whole experience. From day one MW's family has treated me like family and I truly cherish my bond with each one of them. I can't help but love each of my gifts more, knowing they came with each person's every bit of thoughtfulness.

We ended the day with a deliciously simple meal of homemade sauce and then we went bowling! I was miserably terrible, but it was so much fun. Then the next day, MW and I whisked away to see my family in Charlotte. Papa beat us there by a few hours and Sis flew in from West Coast and it was a rare treat to have the whole family together (plus MW- and Gus too!). Sis even brought her kitten, Buster. He and Gus got along great! 

Christmas Eve, Dad made his fantastic steaks. They are so good that I just can't order a steak at a restaurant any more. He seasons and grills them to perfection. Paired with rosemary baked red potatoes and crunchy, garlic-y fresh green beans, it is easily one of my favorite decadent meals. I was so busy stuffing my face with steak and wine (and Christmas cookies) that I barely pulled out my camera. 

As a side note, I have very few pictures of my family and I immediately regret it when I return home and recap the events of my visit in my mind. I love having pictures to look through and to bring back memories, which I have a growing tendency to forget. I can't remember the last time we had someone take our family picture, but I think I'll have to ask MW to do that the next time we're all together. I do have a couple cute ones though:

Mom and Sis. I may need to frame this. 

Mom and MW- so adorable!
Notice the wine glasses in EVERY picture- love it!

Thanks to MW for snagging this one!

We spent actual Christmas morning with my family. Mom cooked up some eggs with toast and bacon before we gathered in the living room. Mom set the Christmas tree up in a large opening between the entrance hall and the living room, and I loved that you could see it from most areas on the first floor. 

Dad slowed down the passing out of gifts this year and it was nice to see each person's reactions to their gifts. As always, mom greatly improved my wardrobe with her beautiful sense of style. Even Sis helped out in that department this year- one of my favorite shirts came from her and I can't wait for a special occasion to wear it!

Shortly after presents, we were honored with the opportunity to spend time with Papa, who had brought Nana's jewelry to divide among his granddaughters. I wasn't fully prepared and teared up a bit, but having MW there and seeing Papa delicately handle each piece made me realize how we were honoring Nana's memory, especially during her favorite time of the year. I inherited my Nana's engagement ring, which I anticipate using as my own (read: SOMEDAY. not soon.). I am so grateful to have a piece of her that will always be there to remind me of her beautiful soul and the love that she and Papa shared. 

Later, after some relaxing and meandering upstairs to play with cats, Sis and Dad got to work making some Bolognese. Easily my other favorite meal that my dad makes (and definitely MW's)! This is a yearly tradition I could get used to *hint hint*. I ate until I hurt, sopping up as much bolognese as my stomach could handle. I think if someone were to ask what meal I would have when I first returned from being shipwrecked, Dad's bolognese would be the answer. A close second is mom's roast beef and dumplings (an acquired taste, but close to my heart). 

Unfortunately, the next morning it was time to depart for a trip we've been planning for months. We left Gus in Sis and Mom's (and Buster's) capable hands (paws) and whisked away to DC to spend the evening with a great, old friend. In fact, that same friend, Morgles, introduced us five years ago and visiting her again felt like the perfect way to commence celebrating our five year anniversary.  Morgles took us out in DC to a bar with a warm glow and lots of craft beer on taps. We spent the rest of the evening hunkered down in said bar and were joined by another friend from college. It felt so good to sit around, sipping beer and catching up with a friend I wish I kept in better touch with. 

The next morning, MW and I promised to visit Morgles again soon (Cherry Blossom festival??) and started the final few hours toward NYC! We followed the same path up to NYC to embark on a 4 night Phish run at Madison Square Garden, staying in the same Queens hotel as last year. However, this year we spent the trip with MW's hometown friends (and now my good friends!) the Regg and Fergie (who visited us this past summer). I promise to outline our entire week spent there this weekend! 

Until then, I'd just like to thank all of our family and friends for another wonderful Christmas. We are so blessed to have our family live so close, and who provide us with never ending love and support. 

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