Christmas Traditions - Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a beautiful holiday!

Our first Christmas was certainly one to remember. I simply can't express enough how absolutely and incredibly blessed we are to have such an amazing group of loving and supportive family and friends around us. In the wake of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, we celebrated our first holiday with heavy hearts, remembering how many families would wake up on Christmas morning without their little ones. This heartbreaking reality reminded us to take time to soak in every moment of the holiday with our loved ones and really appreciate how blessed we are.

We tried hard not to get caught up in the craziness this year and forget about what really matters. It can be so easy to slip into the materialistic madness and stress of the holidays. I kept coming back to a phrase we learned in our pre-cana classes before we got married. "Love is spelled T-I-M-E, not S-T-U-F-F." We focused on making this a meaningful holiday and ended up having a really great day!

Our two families have quite a few Christmas traditions between them and we made sure that we were able to participate in all of them! On Christmas Eve, we went to mass with my parents which has now grown so big that they hold it in a Catholic high school auditorium instead of the church. In recent years, there have been as many as 1,300 people at one mass. The music is the main reason we go to this particular service. I used to sing with the music group and so we keep the tradition and go back every year to support them. Then after mass, we went back to the house, ate a big Christmas ham, and then made a few holiday drinks (gotta love the Kahlua and cream!), got in our PJs and headed out to look at Christmas lights. Every year, we drive around to all of our old houses and check out their displays. We even rate the neighborhoods on how festive they are. In our old neighborhood where I grew up, there used to be this house that we named "The Runway House" that we visited every single year. It was probably one of the most decorated houses I have ever seen in my life. They had blow-up figurines and lights covering almost every square inch of their house and lawn. They even decorated the back yard. We called it the runway house because they would take strings of lights and line their driveway and as a kid I always said it looked like a runway. For about 15 years we have been going to that house to see what they have added and changed. Unfortunately, two years ago, the family that lived there moved away. It was so disappointing! Since then, we've been trying to find a house that rivaled that one but nothing really compares. At least not yet!

After the lights, we headed back to the house for a late showing of "It's A Wonderful Life." This is always my favorite part of Christmas Eve. I just love the old Christmas movies. Mike and I got back to our apartment and somehow we weren't tired, so we stayed up to watch the original version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This is my all-time favorite Christmas movie!

The next morning, we made cinnamon rolls, built a fire, and once we were settled with our coffee, we started opening our gifts and stockings. It was so relaxing and we enjoyed being able to take our time on our first Christmas morning together. Mike's biggest gift was a Garmin Forerunner. I know how serious he has become about his running and so I wanted to get him a nice watch that could track his runs, heart rate, and all that kind of stuff. Mike got me a lot of the things I needed but the most special gift was the one that he made. For almost every holiday, Mike usually hand makes a gift. They come straight from his heart and it's so sweet how much time and effort he puts in to each one. This year, he made me an ornament and when we take our pictures by our tree, he wants to put one of them into the ornament so that we will have our very own, First Christmas ornament.

We got ready and grabbed all of our gifts for our families and headed down to Grammy's house. We opened gifts with them and it was a very sentimental and emotional morning. We got some incredible and memorable gifts! Most of the gifts we gave this year included photos from the wedding. We gave photo books from Shutterfly with some of our wedding photos to Grammy and Kathy. Kristen and John got a collage of photos from the wedding as well. I was so excited for everyone to open their gifts!

After Grammy's, our next stop was Mike's Dad's. We met up with him and his girlfriend and exchanged gifts late that afternoon. We had a really good time visiting with them as well! We also gave Mike's dad a wedding photo book and he really seemed to like it. By that time, it was getting late so we got ready to make our last stop at my parents' house.

Every year, I help my mom make our traditional steak and lobster dinner. The menu is almost always exactly the same. We had a small fruit salad, veggies, rolls, twice baked potatoes, amazing filets, and lobster tail. It's always so much fun helping set up the table with all of the fancy china. As a kid, I remember how special the dinner was to me and I still love it today. After the delicious dinner, we cleaned up and then opened gifts from Mom and Dad. We got some awesome stuff from them as well, including our very own luggage set! We needed one so badly and can't wait to use it for our trip down to Florida in January!

We had an awesome day and hope that everyone else did too! I can't believe how fast the holidays came and passed but I am looking forward to celebrating our first New Year's Eve this weekend!

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