Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Traditions

This year, Brian and I decided to test out some new traditions for the holidays. We'll see how they go next year. Now in the past, we always did Christmas Eve with Brian's family--homemade soup and Christmas Eve church service; Christmas morning with Brian's family; Christmas lunch with my Dad and step-mom Janet's famil; Christmas dinner with Brian's family and my mom. It was crazy! There was never any time to simply sit and relax. I can't imagine how we would do it with an infant!

New Tradition #1: Christmas Eve at our house.

Growing up, we always had our big family dinner with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents on Christmas Eve. We always had a big turkey dinner with gifts, games and lots of laughter. This year, we decided to do Christmas Eve at our house. I would make the turkey, gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Anyone who wanted to come could come--especially people we normally would not have seen--and could bring side dishes and dessert. So, it started off with our friends Tina and Don. Then our friends May and her daughter Erika. Then Brian's parents Barbara and Jeff. Then his sister Stephanie and practically sister Lisa. Then Barbara's sister Susan. Then Barbara's brother Steven and his wife Jennifer. Then Jennifer's parents. The Don's parents. Then my best friend Bonnie. Are you keeping track? Because, including us, that made 18 people! 18! That's a lot of people for our tiny house! It actually turned out just to be 16 people. But, I cooked everything up on Friday, cleaned a bit on Saturday, Bonnie came and helped haul out the kitchen table, moved the couch and chair from the dining room, and helped set up card tables, a banquet table and chairs. Everyone brought food. And, in the end, it all worked out pretty great! It was very cozy, but it was a lot of fun!
Just an idea of what our living room looked like!
What we learned: Let's limit the number of people to 12 next year!

New Tradition #2: Christmas Eve Church Service

One of Brian's family's traditions is going to Christmas Eve Service. At first, I reluctantly went, since I rarely went to church as a child. However, through the years, I came to look forward to the Christmas Eve church service. It kept us mindful of the reason for the season, as it were, and I always loved the music and stories. I found a church here in Menlo Park that was supposed to have a wonderful Christmas Eve service, so we went. Unfortunately, we were late. Instead of sitting in the main church, we ended up in an overflow room--a small meeting room with a big screen tv and about 20 people in it. I was bummed, but we were still able to enjoy the sermon and the music (FYI: Lorelei LOVES her some Christmas music. She was kicking and moving whenever any music started playing). The sermons were really engaging--entertaining, but also mindful of what people were going through. The pastor didn't try to sugarcoat the year, saying "What a great year we've had!" instead he pretty much said "This year kind of sucked. Let's hope 2012 will be better!" One funny memory: the usher in our room brought his adorable French Bulldog, who kept wandering around to visit with the parishioners, snortle and finally to lay down and snore in the corner. It was pretty hilarious.

What we learned: #1 know where the church is. #2 Come EARLY. People started showing up for the next service 45 minutes before that service started!

New Tradition #3: Christmas morning at our house

 Much as I love having Christmas morning with all of our family around us, it was wonderful to have Christmas morning just be Brian, the dogs and I. We were able to relax, drink tea and open gifts at our own pace. I even started a new breakfast tradition: Aebleskievers--delicious ball-shaped pancakes filled with yummy things. This year, we did sausage and green onion, cheese and strawberry jam. It was a break from my family's tradition--pie--and Brian's family's tradition--French toast or eggs Benedict. Oh, and my favorite gift this year: Brian got me a ring with "Lorelei" hand stamped on it. He even said that he wouldn't mind having one for himself (watch out, his birthday AND Father's day are both coming!)

What we learned: Have the Aebleskiever batter and fillings made the night before a for quick and easy breakfast!
Finny is not sure about what's going on this morning!

Our stockings and mantle--post gift unwrapping!

Our Christmas tree on Christmas morning--post gift unwrapping!

My favorite gift!

Bummer and Finny enjoying one of their Christmas gifts!
New Tradition #4: Christmas Dinner with just ONE family!
Normally, we try to hit everyone on Christmas Day. I mean, my Dad and step-mom and Brian's parents are all in the same town, after all! But it always ends up being too busy. We can never enjoy ourselves fully since we are always watching the clock, trying not to eat too much because we are going to be getting two delicious meals, etc. This year, we only went to my Dad's house. It was wonderful. Again, we just hung out, talked with my step-brothers, -sisters, -neices and -nephews. We had a big lunch/dinner of roast beef, deep fried turkey, and all the trimmings. We opened gifts and had an overall excellent time. Next year, we will go to Brian's parents' house for Christmas Day dinner and hopefully Dad and Janet will come to our house for Christmas Eve!

So there you have it, our new traditions that hopefully will continue through the years!

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