Wednesday, December 26, 2012

the most wonderful time of the year: christmas & reflections

You guys know I love the holidays, but they aren't always perfect. I feel older every year, and I seem to celebrate with fewer and fewer friends and family.

The last couple of years have taken my father, two grandfathers, and an uncle. The holidays are sometimes hard without them; I still feel the empty spaces where they use to sit. My grandmother has Alzheimer's, and we lose a little more of  her every day. I think that's why I let myself get wrapped up in the Christmas festivities and the nostalgia so much--it can take me back to when things were simpler, and all the people I love were always around (or at least just a phone call away). I can watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, and suddenly I'm five years old again, ready to head to Grandma & Grandpa's on Christmas Eve. I'm not saying all of this to bum you out the day after Christmas; the point here (though it isn't well-articulated by any means, since this whole thing has pretty much just been a stream-of-consciousness post) is that Christmas lets me temporarily erase the sadness and amplify the good memories.  It reminds me to appreciate the family around me while I have them. That's the real magic of the Christmas season for me.

This week was full of family, love, happiness, nostalgia, and that special sort of magic. My mom and stepdad came up to Springfield, and Sunday we had Christmas dinner (and presents!) here at our apartment with them, my brother, and Kathy (his wife).  

I cooked up a big meal of chicken/stuffing bake, green bean casserole, roasted broccoli, corn on the cob, marinated mushrooms, brown-sugared carrots, mashed potatoes & gravy, cheesecake and pumpkin pie! I'm no expert chef, but I'd say I did a decent job, because everyone (except Kathy, who had to work) came back the next day to take care of the leftovers, too! :) Once we had priority #1 (food) out of the way, we opened presents!

Well, after we had awakened my stepdad from his food-induced coma, anyway.

Maybe I'm just becoming increasingly sentimental, but it seems like we had some extra-thoughful gifts this year. My mom had personalized stockings made for each of us using the material from the aisle runners at our weddings (above)! My brother and I both got married this year, so it was a particularly meaningful first-married-Christmas gift. Then he and Kathy got me this amazing print (below) of Oregon, with the heart at Portland, my favorite U.S. city! My wanderlusting heart is split between there and England, and I couldn't stop staring at this print the whole day. I'm actually kinda looking forward to taking the Christmas decorations down, just so I can put this up!

 My brother broke out Tyler's guitar and played us some tunes while we all sat around, talked, and laughed. He's pretty darn musically talented, and completely self-taught. So proud of him and his ability--I can strum a little, but I can't come close to him. I loved having family time. It was such a great couple of days.


When I was a kid, I loved sleeping on the couch in the nights leading up to Christmas. The lights on the tree gave me such a warm, homey, loved feeling. Tyler came up with the idea to drag our mattress off our bed and into the living room floor, so on Christmas Eve, that's exactly what we did. I don't think either of us slept particularly well, but every time I woke up that night, I woke up under the glow of Christmas lights. And I fell back asleep each time with that same cozy feeling I had as a kid.

I have such an amazing husband. Seriously. I  have to brag on him a bit. First the mattress thing. Adorable, right? Then, he wanted to give me some money for Christmas to put toward a DSLR camera that I've had my eye on, but he thought it would be weird to just hand me some money. So he hunted down a couple film canisters, put the money in them, and hid them in the living room. He even made an ornament out of one and put it on the tree!

Look at all this! I'm seriously spoiled. Tyler said he just couldn't stop buying stuff, and I definitely believe him. Goodness.   


Yesterday, we spent the day at my aunt and uncle's house with them, my cousins, and grandma. Isn't my grandma the cutest?

There was so much food! It was all the classic tastes of childhood Christmases at my grandparents' house, and it felt so homey and nostalgic....until the dirty jokes started. I guess that's what I was missing all those years at the kids table! Haha. It was hilarious, though. Loved spending time with them.

And Patches, of course.


Sunday we're off to Tyler's family Christmas in Arkansas. I seriously can't wait. I have the greatest in-laws I could  have ever wished for, and I love spending time with them as much as my own family. I feel like I've known them forever, and it's been way too long since we've seen each other!

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

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