Despite it not being a white Christmas this year, we had a great holiday. It was full of so much good food, great conversation and Christmas cheer! The biggest surprise we had this year was finding out the gender of our growing baby and sharing it with our families. I can’t wait to spill the beans on the blog here soon!
Our Christmas week started off with a cocktail party with our parents at the farmhouse. It’s the first time they’ve all been together since they found out they’re going to be grandparents soon. We did a potuck of all sorts of appetizer foods – baked brie, cheese and crackers, samosas, jalapeno cheese sticks, meatballs and veggies. It was a good spread!
On the morning of Christmas Eve, we decided to let the dogs open their gifts early and keep them busy while we got ready for a day of family festivities.
Once they saw what was inside the box, we could hardly keep them still. How do dogs just know that it’s something for them?
We gave them their favourite kinds – a ropey chewy toy for Cola…
…and a squeaky stuffed hedgehog for Whiskey, which he bit the feet off of immediately. All I could hear was the squeaky noise throughout the morning going along to the tune of the Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong Christmas albums I was playing.
Then it was time to head over to my parents’ house to help my mom get our big family feast ready. There is nothing quite like coming home on Christmas. The familiar smells from the kitchen, the tree decorated with our childhood ornaments, my mom’s favourite Dolly Parton Christmas record on the old turntable. It felt weird outside with abnormal 14°C (57°F) weather (replacing the previous record from December 1964), but inside it was warm and cozy.
My mom made this beautiful table centrepiece with fresh greens, flowers and real holly.
The only other time I’ve seen fresh holly was when I visited my cousins in England and saw a big live bush of it. It’s so stunning in an arrangement.
Our guests showed up in time for cocktail hour and we started our traditional White Elephant gift exchange.
There is always one or two gifts that get continually stolen back and forth, until someone gives in and grabs the last one off the table (usually around the time when we realize that dinner is almost ready!)
A table full of good food – and family in goofy paper crowns.
The next morning I was so excited to wake up in our own house and head downstairs to turn on the Christmas tree. While the dogs ran around outside (in the warm weather) and our house guests got ready for the day, I took a few minutes to sit by the light of the tree and think of how fortunate we are to live here. A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined it.
The big joke in my family was that I had to do my “farm chores” before I could come into town for Christmas brunch at my parents’ house. I went out to wish our chickens a Merry Christmas and give them a chopped up apple as a thank you for the beautiful eggs they gave us for breakfast. They’re consistently giving us 3-4 eggs a day now (around two dozen a week!)
Before I’d left my parents’ house the night before, I prepped our favourite strata for brunch (using the recipe from The Family Stone movie). It sat in the fridge overnight and then we opened gifts while it baked.
There was also a big plate of my dad’s famous english muffin egg sandwiches, using some of the eggs I’d picked out of the chicken coop that very morning. You don’t get fresher than that!
There were so many thoughtful and funny gifts exchanged, but the one that made me crack up the most was this ball of yarn and a half knit hat from my Nana. At first I thought it was a joke about how I always used to ask her to help me get started, but it was really because she fractured her wrist early this fall and hadn’t had a chance to finish it yet.
There was also another little gift hidden up in the tree for the baby – a little set of booties with a pacifier, an elephant clip tucked inside and the baby’s first Christmas book (a Canadian story no less). It’s hard to imagine that the baby will be here to celebrate with us next year.
The biggest surprise from my parents was this big screen TV. It had been a long running joke that our old one looked pretty puny in here and with a long winter of hibernating ahead of us, this will definitely come in handy. Oddly enough we’d just been given the entertainment unit this week from a friend who couldn’t find a place for it in their home, so we’re all set!
On Christmas night we headed to Garrett’s parents for another huge feast. They had delicious smoked turkey and smoked ham, with every side you could imagine. I got so busy catching up with everyone that I forgot to take photos!
Garrett’s parents surprised us with a painting of our house they had commissioned by their talented friend who gave us a beautiful painting at our wedding too. Our neighbour had told us that they’d seen someone coming around our house taking photos, but we’d thought nothing of it, because I do the same thing when I see houses that I like! It turns out she was using them to create this stunning piece. She even added in the touches we haven’t done yet – like adding the extra shutters to the left side we haven’t finished and painting the porch beams and posts white. I can hardly wait to find a place to hang it!
On Boxing Day, I got up super early to hit the road with my family to my parents’ place in Southwest Florida. By dinnertime on December 27th, we had made it and have been enjoying the last few days in the sun. Garrett has informed me that back home we just missed the huge snowstorm that came through. It’s been great so far to have a nice break and spend some quality time with my family while I’m still able to travel in the second trimester!
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I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas and that you make the most of the last couple of days of 2015!