Sitting in my office the day after Christmas, sipping pumkin spiced hot cocoa given to me by a coworker, snow falling heavily outside, I felt very grateful for the very merry Christmas I had this year.
Steve and I have now been together for three years and have established a holiday schedule that we plan to live by unless things change drastically (i.e. we have a kid, we lose our jobs, we change our minds, etc.): one year we'll go somewhere vacation-y for Christmas, the next year we'll stay at home just him and me and anyone we invite to spend it with us, and the third year we'll spend the holiday with family.
This was the year we spent Christmas with family. We drove to Cedar City last Friday afternoon, December 21st, and arrived in the evening early enough to go to dinner with my mom. I didn't have a great dining experience as my steak wasn't cooked properly, but it was fun to sit and chat with my mom and plan the weekend's festivities. My brother Jason and his family arrived shortly after we returned to Mom's house and we all stayed up way to late playing games, talking, and laughing.
Saturday morning, Jason, Rachel, Robbie, Steve, and I met Dad, Paula, and Macey for breakfast at the Main Street Diner. Dad was running behind so the rest of us stopped off at Lin's market to say hi to my brother Corey and his wife who were helping one of my brother's high school students earn money for a trip to Italy this summer by selling hot chocolate. We bought s few cups to help out and chatted until Dad arrived at the diner. I felt so content sitting aorund the large table in the diner. I was seated across from my dad with my hubby next to me and my brother down the table and thought how lucky I am to have such great men in my life. My dad hasn't always been perfect but he's trying hard to make up for his mistakes. My brothers aren't perfect either, but they're good men and I love them a lot. My husband IS perfect and I love him the most. We were the loud table in the diner but the other people must have had the Christmas spirit as no one seemed to mind. That or they all were getting a kick out of my nephew Robbie singing loudly while in the restroom. He's such a ham!
After breakfast, Steve went ice fishing with Corey and his son Porter, Jason and Rachel finished Christmas shopping, while Mom and I entertained Robbie until they returned. We then went grocery shopping for finishing touches to our multiple holiday meals. Later, everyone met at mom's where we played games and ate dinner. My friends Carrie and Wendy stopped by and it was wonderful to chat with them and catch up with what's been going on in their lives. I hadn't seen Wendy since before she left on her mission, so it was great to see her again finally! And, Carrie had such happy news to tell that it made my heart happy. Hoping for the best for both of them! Once again, I stayed up much later than usual but had a fabulous time.
Sunday morning, Mom, Jason, Rachel, Robbie, and I went to Mom's church. Mom thought I should have invited Steve, but he's been to church with me a few times lately and I know his limits. It would have been nice to have him there but I just appreciate that he's gone with me for the family events in the past. Mom's ward put on a nice meeting filled with beautiful musical numbers and two really good talks. Afterward, I got to see my old roommate Andrea and her 7-month old daughter who is absolutely gorgeous! I chatted with Andrea and my friend Kyle who is now in that ward, too, for awhile before Mom and I headed home for lunch. Mom stayed home while the rest of us, including my brother Kevin and his family, went to Corey's house for games and snacks. That evening, we all went to Mom's work, one of the local high schools, where we had Kevin's wife's family join us for dinner; two types of soup, chips, and veggies. Then the kids acted out the Christmas story while Kevin read it out of the Bible, interspersed with us singing Christmas carols. The whole time, my dog Sadie roamed freely, trying to get someone to pet her. Mom had worked hard on this evening and she did a great job - it turned out great! We said goodbye to Jenny's family then headed back to Mom's house for more games and food. And yes, we stayed up way too late once again.
Christmas Eve, we woke up to snow. Cedar had received quite a bit of snow before the weekend so this snowfall just added to it. We'd definitely be having a white Christmas and I was happy about it! Steve and I went up to Dad's house at 10am along with Corey and Jason and their families. We played games, chatted with Paula's daughters, ate lunch, and opened presents. For a few years now, Dad and Paula give us money around Thanksgiving and have us buy our own presents then give what we bought to them to wrap and put under their tree. Then we unwrap them while at their house. It works out quite nicely because we always get what we want/need and they don't have to buy for a million people. This year, they bought suprise gifts for us to go along with the present we bought using their money - a set of kitchen knives for each of the ladies (I was so excited because they're sharp AND colorful!) and a pocketknife for each of the guys. Steve and I had used their money to buy us a waffle maker, a breadmaker, a fire-proof file holder, and new bathroom towels. It was fun to hang out at Dad's and I was really glad to be able to have a good long chat with my step-sister Lindsey. Oh, and Macey gave me a necklace with an Eiffle tower pendant. It's sparkly and pretty.
We left Dad's and returned to Mom's around 5pm and Kevin and his family arrived shortly after we pulled in to her house...actually, shortly after we pulled in, leashed our dog and took her out for a walk in the blowing, cold snow! We ate dinner, played games, and opened the gifts us siblings had bought for each other (we rotate who we buy for each year) and the gifts Mom had bought the grandkids and that the aunts and uncles had bought for the kids. Corey and Kevin and their families left around 9, and Rachel and Jason decided to go visit her brother and his family for a little bit even though Robbie was in bed, so Steve and I had a little quiet time with Mom finally. It's Steve and mine's tradition to open our stockings on Christmas Eve and we had bought Mom a stocking filled with silly little gifts and chocolates, so the three of us opened our stockings while everyone else was gone. Steve certainly knows what makes me tick - he gave me LOTS of chocolate! And other stuff, too. When Rachel and Jason returned, they put up Robbies gifts from Santa and then we played Mormon bridge. We finally went to bed just before midnight - we had to get to bed before Santa passed us by!
I can never sleep Christmas Eve night. I'm always too excited. I had hoped to sleep better this time since I'd been staying up so late and waking up so early, but it didn't help. I went to sleep fairly easily but when Steve got up to go to the bathroom, I woke up and never really fell back to sleep. I kept hoping Jason would poke his kid a few times so Robbie would wake up early and we could get up and open presents, but that didn't happen until 6:45am! Rachel later told me they had talked loudly to wake him up since he was sleeping like a log. I told her next time to poke him but I don't think she'll try it. He finally came into our room to "wake" us up and we finally got to go out to the living room to see what Santa had brought us. I enjoyed Robbie's excitment for his new Spiderman bike and his total blunt disappointment in the Star Wars men that he "already had" until his mom reminded him that one was broken and the other was lost, then he liked them. We opened our presents and Steve and I had just a couple presents left when Corey and Audree showed up. I had started preparing two quiches before opening presents, and when they arrived I finished them up and put them in the oven to bake while we finished. We had all held off opening our presents from my mom until then, so we opened them before breakfast. Mom gave us a bread maker! I had no idea she was going to get one for us! The one she gave us is nicer than the one we bought, so we'll keep it and return the other one for a deep fryer and something else. Steve bought me a couple puzzles, Pioneer Woman's cookbook, gloves and earmuffs, two mugs, electronic Catch Phrase, and a nice croquet set. I bought him cologne, ESPN 30 and 30 DVDs, a computer game, an electric razor, and clothes (two shirts, pj pants, and a sweater). Jason and Rachel gave us two new games - Logo and Monopoly cards - and a book full of pictures of Robbie. All in all, a good haul for both of us.
We ate breakfast and played a game or two before we packed up and loaded our car. Then we all headed out to Corey's house to see what they had received from Santa and each other. Then Steve, Sadie, and I hit the road and returned to our lovely home in Riverdale. The roads were dry and clear and we made it home in less than 4 hours! We noticed IHOP was open, so after we unloaded the car, we went there for dinner. We had eaten there last year for Christmas Eve and I had been surprised by how good the pot roast dinner was, so I ordered it again. It wasn't as good. In fact, it was like eating a tv dinner and was what I had expected last year. Steve confirmed that it wasn't just that my expectations were too high after last year, it really wasn't as good as last year. Ah well. It filled my empty tummy and I didn't have to clean up afterward. We went home, walked the dog, then settled in with popcorn to watch Hercule Poirot on Netflix. We went to bed early.
It was a great Christmas. Not just because I ate lots of good food and received lots of good presents, of course. It was wonderful to spend so much time with my family and to see people that I don't get to see very often. My step-sister Lindsey and I had such a sweet conversation about miscarriages and pregnancies. I haven't always been close to my step-sisters but I'm glad we have a good relationship. My step-sister Karli was at Dad's briefly, so I got to see her cute little daughter Kendri for the first time in a year. She's grown a lot. It was also great to see Carrie, Wendy, Andrea, and Kyle, and I wish I could have seen more of my dear Cedar friends while I was there.
I also love seeing my husband interact with my family. I could not have married a man who fits better with my family than Steve. He's different than them in many ways but fits as if he has always been a part of us. Every day, I thank God for blessing me with Steve. He truly is my best friend, and though he isn't particularly religious, he constantly embodies everything church teaches - goodness, faith, patience, hope, love, kindness, generosity.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well and that 2013 brings us all happiness, love, and laughter!