Yes, Happy Birthday to all. I'm one of those lucky kids who get to celebrate Christmas on the 25th, Dad's birthday on January 1st, and Mom's birthday on the 4th. Sometimes this means I can slack a little on the gift giving, but often it means I end up spending more on one giant gift than a little on smaller gifts. Either way, the season is filled with festivities.
The main reason for this post, however, is to discuss the Christmas happenings. As I stated two posts ago, I celebrated Christmas on the 28th instead of the 25th...sort of. So, let me go into full detail.
The 24th (Christmas Eve) was spent mainly lounging around, enjoying the day off. Hans was off finally and we really didn't have much to do. That evening we went over to Dad's for a Christmas dinner where everyone except for Dad and I had roast beef. We had salmon (remember the no meat thing on the Eve) and were slightly ridiculed. Ah, the price you pay for your beliefs. Honestly, I don't always understand the reasoning, but I do enjoy the tradition, so my witty response is, "Thbbbt!" Anyway, we then returned home for about 3 hours before meeting up with Dad again to go to Midnight Mass. Yes, my life-long dream was finally realized! Hurray! It was packed, but it was also supremely fun.
Christmas Day we slept in. And by slept in I mean we woke up as soon as Merlin announced he had to use the bathroom, and then we chilled on the couch. We did do some minor tidying, but really we just relaxed. Around 1:00 we left for the Jefferson Hotel for lunch. The Jefferson is the uber-expensive, high-and-mighty, Elvis-and-multiple-presidents-stayed-there, cheapest-room-is-$250-a-night hotel in Richmond. Anyway, Sherry and Dad had booked reservations there for lunch. The food was delicious, but a bit over-priced. It was a great experience, but I hope I have more money before I try it again. After lunch we came back to our apartment for more relaxation and a bit more prep. You see, Hans' parents and sister arrived that evening.
Actually, there had been some drama as to whether or not they'd arrive on schedule. Weather was pretty bad there and flights were being canceled left and right. Not to worry, though. Not only were they on time, they were a few minutes early! We picked them up, got them dinner, and dropped them off at the hotel for some much needed rest. Christmas was finally beginning!
The next day, Saturday, we did a final sweep over...making sure everything was off the floor and pictures were hung. Plus, I made more pierogies. Hans' family came over in the late afternoon for some family time, we went to get groceries, had dinner, and went to see Bus Stop and the Hanover Tavern. The basic theme of the day was final preparations for us and relaxation for them. Well, at least I hope they relaxed.
Sunday more family arrived. After church, Hans, Garret, Betsy, Emily and I went for a pizza lunch. After lunch, Hans, his parents, and I went to see the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Barksdale Theatre while Emily went to pick up Gan (Hans' grandmother) and Meredith (his cousin). First let me say, if you have a chance to see the show, go! It's hilarious. Second, Gan and Meredith's arrival was much anticipated. The real drama that day, however, was Chris and Liz's arrival (brother and SIL). Chris and Liz were supposed to fly out of Wisconsin and arrive around 4:00 that evening. A flight cancellation, however, meant they ended up having to drive all the way to Chicago, a 3-4 hour car trip, and catch a different flight just so they'd make it before Tuesday. Instead of arriving at 4:00 as planned, they didn't get in until 10:30. As if traveling with a baby isn't hard enough! After about an hour of car seat woes, they were finally destined for a night of rest. They had missed the pierogie dinner, but were at least here for the rest of the family fun.
Finally, Monday the 28th arrived! This was my real Christmas. Hans and I spent the morning fairly relaxed, counting down the minutes until we thought cooking would be a good idea. I ran out to obtain a last-minute Christmas present. When I returned at 2:00, the cooking ensued. Family came over after an hour or so, and Hans and I had people to talk to (other than each other that is). After a mere 5 hours of cooking, and some assistance from Dad, we set the table with ham, lamb, yams, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, green beans, and rolls. We then followed that up with apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and fruit tart. Don't worry, the apple pie was the only homemade dessert and Hans' mom made that in Minnesota. We did realize recently that we forgot the stuffing, but I don't think anyone really noticed. The whole evening was spent with food, family, and friends, and it was followed up by the great gift opening of 2009. It was fun!
Really, the rest of Christmas was great, but that was my highlight. This Christmas, Hans and I were surrounded by loved ones. We were able to see our nephew, Edward, swim for the first time, and we made mental notes on how much Meredith had grown. My greatest compliment came from Gan when she said, "You made a memory." Coming from an 83 year old woman, that means a lot. Really, though, it was all of them who made the memory for us. It was fantastic having them here, and I'm more than willing to do it all over again. Now if only plane tickets were cheaper!