We are back after a whirlwind trip to Minnesota for the holidays. If you remember, the weather ruined our plans to travel last year, so we were eager and past due for a good visit with family. It was so weird exchanging brown and rainy Missouri for buried and snowy Minnesota. It was the most snow Neil had ever seen, and they even got more while we were there:
So after a workout at the local YMCA, Neil offered to shovel the driveway Missouri-style, with borrowed boots and all!
We stayed with my aunt, and her house truly could be the official location of Christmas. She doesn’t even know how many trees she has! Each is carefully themed and ornamented and Christmas music plays 24/7. For a pretty newly married couple, Neil and I love being around so many traditions and history. A few of our favorite decorations:
My grandmother’s memorial ornament, a must-have for the grown-up hopefully we’ll someday have, not that I don’t love our little Holiday Shrub.
Homemade noodle ornaments that were made as a family when I was little. They were so much fun to make!
Homemade wooden ornaments from my Grandpa’s workshop. He used to make us each ornaments every year.
Cute little dutch shoes!
All the aunts have the same nativity set with various pieces missing or “altered” in some way, innocent victims of generations of children. Baby Jesus has endured many kidnappings.
We started our Christmas Eve by taking a few portraits of my cousin, her son and their new pup Apple. Apple is one of the most gorgeous labs I have ever seen!
We then set to work preparing the feast! Christmas Eve is always a smaller gathering with Appetizers, many of them vegetarian!
Yummy French Bread Pizzas with homemade hummus, olives, and spinach. They were so good, I’m definitely going to be making these soon. Genius!
We also had loads of fun playing with Jacob, my second-newest second cousin who was in town to celebrate his very first Christmas. He is so adorable!
And being so cute and at his first Christmas, we made sure to spoil him rotten!
We also opened gifts ourselves:
Neil excited about his new candy and gum stock. Seriously you guys, if you’ve never met him, this face happens whenever he’s excited…
My aunt received some SERIOUS gardening tools. They are very big and VERY sharp. Don’t mess with her!
Sarah and Andrew with their newest Christmas ornament.
My cousin Adam with the pint glass his my aunt lifted from the restaurant we ate at the previous night. He had stolen a glass, but she had thought to steal one first. Keeping it classy…
My aunt received a HUGE mailbox and while trying to convince her kids how much she loved it, realized the real one was inside and the big one was a gag. It was hilarious watching her back pedal out of that one.
Afterwards we took a few portraits:
Our Christmas Eve celebration lasted well into the night and we did it all again with the rest of the family Christmas Day. We also celebrated with some of Neil’s family and my parents. So much travel, but that’s seemingly the life of the newly married twenty-something isn’t it? You go to where the people are.
As far as gifts, we really kept it simple this year. We have lots of great chocolate to bake with, and new ornaments to add to our collection. My dad gave me some great books, and my mom bought me some amazing mineral make-up I can’t wait to use. Neil’s mom wove me a rug and gave me some beautiful holiday serving dishes and Neil’s dad gave bought us our favorite organic, all-natural detergent. I got Neil a great new running skull cap and he got me a dutch oven (the kind that doesn’t involve farts). I can’t wait to use it. In fact, Neil’s making me dinner in it right now!
With 2011 being totally dedicated to relocating (more on that when we debut our New Years Resolutions!), it’s crazy to think that it might be our last Christmas as residents of Missouri. Figuring out holidays will take on new and more complicated challenges, and hopefully a chance to form a few of our own traditions along the way. It’s all very exciting, but scary and nerve-wracking at the same time. So goes change when you’re living a bit outside the norm!
Do you feel like you need a holiday to recover from the holiday?