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Snow Day Catch-Up: Our First Christmas Eve and Christmas

January 22, 2011

After all of the cooking and cleaning, B came home from work around noon.  We grabbed some lunch, packed some church outfits, dirty laundry (nothing says “we’re home for the holidays” like a hamper full of laundry), and gifts, and headed to our hometown.  You could just feel the Christmas excitement in the air.  Our neighbors actually spoke to us and wishes us a merry Christmas!  It was a holiday miracle!

We dropped off the food I had made for the next day at my parents’ house and then went to B’s parents’ for the rest of the day.  B’s brother K was home, freshly graduated and ready to find a job (we’ll see), and B’s mom P was putting a fresh bunch of sugar cookies on the cooling rack.  Mmmm sugar cookies.  The plan was for us to decorate the sugar cookies and then decorate the tree.  Sweet!  Game on!  I was ready to let the creative juices flow.

P, on the other hand, had different “creative” ideas.  She meant well, but she instructed as to what each cookie should look like, where the white frosting should go, what sprinkles we needed to use, etc.  B and I have had discussions about this before.  I grew up in a house where out of the box thinking was highly encouraged.  Both of my parents are art hobbyists; my dad does woodworking and blacksmithing in his spare time, and my mom likes to paint, sew, and draw, plus cook and do a little interior decorating around the holidays.  There were no set patterns for cookie decorating when I grew up, and by God, I wasn’t going to follow any now.  Sorry, mother-in-law P, you are not raining on my cookie decorating parade!  Once her decorating speech was over and she left the room for something, I looked at B, laughed and said, “Um, no.  I’ll do this how I want!”  Yeah, I’m a cookie rebel.

It turns out that I wasn’t the only cookie rebel.  K decided to make an ornament-shaped cookie look like Santa’s face, and when P saw it, she told him, “That’s not what the cookie was meant to look like!”

K replied, “Mom, have some creativity!  Think outside of the box!”  I don’t think I have ever tried so hard to keep laughter inside (and failed).

With that, the doors for cookie creativity flew open and the three of us began to work our magic.  Being the seasoned pro, I definitely came up with some gems that even impressed mother-in-law P.

After staging the cookie coup, we moved into the porch area to decorate the tree.  P had already put the lights on, so all we had to do was put the ornaments up.  As the boys were the tallest, I let them do the top of the tree.

We munched on snacks and for a moment or two, B and I took a nap on the couch.  We had expected B’s aunt M to come over (we were told she would be on the phone the night before) so we could exchange gifts, but when we asked, P told us that she had just told M that we would come over and see her during Christmas Day (since, you know, we have all the time in the world to rearrange our schedules! AGH!).  B politely spoke up and asked his mom to refrain from changing our schedule like that without asking us first, which I think was one of the best Christmas gifts he gave me.  We’ll see how far it lasts, though.

Around 7:15, it was time to change for church and head to my parents’ house.  My grandmother always sings a solo at her church during the Christmas Eve Cantata, and my family wanted to go listen.  I was all for it, especially since my grandfather is no longer living and I believe that everyone should have someone in the audience to support them.  B put his tie back on, I donned a dress, tights, and heels, and we were off.  My mom had made finger rolls with chicken salad, ham salad, egg salad, and shrimp salad for dinner (our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, no joke!), so we gobbled a couple down before hitting the road.  It took around an hour or so to get there, and while we expected the church to be packed, it wasn’t.  We were able to find the row we typically sat in with my grandfather years ago and watch the whole cantata.  It was absolutely lovely.  My grandmother sounded beautiful, and it is now my goal to learn all of “O Holy Night” in Canadian French as well.  We stopped by her house after church for a few snacks, wished her a merry Christmas, and told her we would see her on Sunday to celebrate with the rest of our extended family.

We finally dragged ourselves into our apartment and into bed around 12:30 AM, only to set our alarms for 7:00 AM for the next morning.  Being that it was Christmas, I woke up at 6:30, ready to open presents, but I let B sleep until the alarm.  Merry Christmas hunny!  We grabbed mugs of apple cider and sat around our tree, taking turns opening presents.  B did an amazing job finding gifts for me and really listened to what I had been hinting at.  He got me a gorgeous purple statement necklace with matching earrings, three young adult novels to add to my collection of “must-reads,” The Princess and the Frog on DVD from Disney, and a membership to the Portland Dine-Around Club, which is basically a discount card and book of coupons to a bunch of different restaurants and entertainment spots in Southern/Western Maine.  Amazing!  Can you say date night?

B seemed to enjoy his gifts as well.  I got him a subscription to Sports Illustrated, a FIFA Soccer Wii game, and the first four seasons of How I Met Your Mother.  I also had date night in mind!  As his birthday was the day after Christmas, I still had some gift surprises up my sleeve for the next day.

After snuggling and soaking in our first Christmas together in our first apartment, we bundled up and hit the road to go back to my parents’ house.  We ate coffee cake, opened presents with my sister and her boyfriend, plus my parents and our cats, and enjoyed our Christmas morning.  Oh, you should know that everyone wears their PJs in our house until around 2 on Christmas.  I thought I should warn you before you see these pictures.

This is my cat Italics.  He really enjoys wrapping paper and pretending that he is a goat, ripping little pieces off and spitting them out.  He’s a nut.  This is a better picture of him on Christmas:

Totally a people-cat.  He needs to be where the action is at all times.

Eventually, we all got up and began to get preparations started for Christmas dinner.  I also did (what else?) our laundry.  My aunt and uncle, who were originally going to be in North Carolina with their new grandchild for Christmas, had decided to stay in Maine instead, so we had two more people joining us for dinner.  Yay!  I am a huge fan of big family dinners!  My mom made meat pie, chocolate cream and coconut cream pie, salad, and oodles of other delectables to go along with what I had already brought.  It was a feast, and we were all pretty hungry by the time we sat down to dinner.

After dinner, B and I headed over to his aunt’s house to have Christmas with them.  And she had the flu.  Delightful!  We made sure to stay at a careful distance as we thanked them for our Christmas gift.  We then traveled back to B’s parents’ to have the Christmas tree with them.  Are you seeing the travel pattern here?  Exhausting!  I got another YAL book to add to my collection, and I am pumped to be able to read the whole Percy Jackson series!

B and I decided to do a lot of wedding photo gifts this year, which was an easy decision and saved us some money.  We made photo books through Shutterfly and gave them to our parents.  We customized the fonts, the pictures, and the designs.  They loved them.  They both got the same book, so we made sure everyone from both sides of the family was equally represented.  If you are recently married or are getting married, consider giving photo books as gifts.  They are a hit!

After watching part of Elf, I fell asleep on the couch and B decided it was time to head back to my parents’ house to go to bed.  Tomorrow, we would have to be up and out in time to jet back to our apartment to make his family birthday taco feast!

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