My holiday celebrations began at my home in NC. My roommate got a cryptic call from her dad on a random Wednesday saying, “Are you home?” She said “… yeah… why?” and he said “I’m coming over. Don’t go anywhere.” And refused to tell her anything else. Thus proving all dads everywhere are real weirdos.
It turns out he was dropping off this adorable wee Christmas tree!
We turned it into a holiday wonderland (ish) with an advent calendar and presents below it.
It made for a nice backdrop to a pre-Christmas party with the First Wives Club! We decorated cookies and had the following:
- My fondue (Trader Joe’s has a microwavable fondue. I acknowledge that this is DANGEROUS INFORMATION TO SHARE) with apple slices, carrots, baguette, and pistachio pomegranate crisps
- More Trader Joe’s goodies from Lesli: smoked salmon and cream cheese wraps, Melba toast with tapenade, summer sausage
- COOKIES! I used this Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe which was really good and easy to work with (even when you, like me, have no rolling pin and use a wine bottle LOL)
My sister got me the CUTEST Christmas cookie cutters last year for Christmas and it was so fun to pull them out. The little elves were DEFINITELY my favorites.
Lola the kitty helped me set up the decorating station hahaha. Just made plain white icing, and had sprinkles and a few colors of decorating icing.
IMO, I think we produced some REALLY adorable cookies. I made Lesli and Emily take some and then gave the rest of them to my coworkers and family.
I wrapped up work on the night of Friday December 21st (it was the clinic’s karaoke filled Christmas party, very fun) and then zoomed up to Virginia (whilst listening to Uncover: Escaping NXIVM, a wiiiiiiiiild podcast that I highly recommend).
And what was I rushing to, you ask? Of course my family. But also…
THIS LITTLE HEARTBREAKER.
Guys, my best friend had a baby. It’s the craziest thing ever. She’s my best friend.
It’s been very cool watching her take on this whole mom thing because she’s still the person I can have ridiculous shorthand conversations with and swap recipes with and share an ongoing love of musical theater with… and yet now… she has a real, legit, grown up Family that she’s made. She has a husband and a (CUTE CUTE CUTE) baby!
So of course, getting to spend time with her for the first time in the six months since her bb was born (!!!) I definitely sought to make up for lost time.
LOOK AT THIS SWEET FAMILY.
They are a big fan of this baby. He’s not very good at letting them sleep, yet they forgive him. It helps that he is the most good natured, sweet, curious, giggly little man.
Because it just wasn’t enough for me to be her best friend and the maid of honor in her wedding, I got to be Lydia’s baby’s godmother 🙂 I was so ecstatic when she asked me. The service was super sweet (I like baptisms much more than weddings… no threat of divorce looming!) and the baby was a champ… he focused mostly on chewing on the programs.
Lydia’s family had a sweet little shindig afterwards at which time I admired this cheese Christmas tree.
Another pre-Christmas day I went to the nearby banh mi joint (banh mi= the most deliiiiiiicious Vietnamese sandwiches. Perfect crunchy baguette filled with some kind of protein- pork is traditional but I always get the sugar cane shrimp and this place has veggie options too- then smeared with mayonnaise and fish sauce and topped with cilantro and thinly sliced cucumber and carrots and… also some magic). Got treats for my whole family. All the sandwiches are under $5 and often last two meals.
The main things I miss about Northern Virginia are my family (obvi) and some of the foods you can get. In North Carolina you can get legit Mexican food which is wonderful because VA doesn’t really seem to have it. On the other hand, DC/Northern Virginia you can get the most extraordinary: Korean. Vietnamese. Peruvian. Ethiopian. El Salvadoran. Bolivian. etc. etc.
Before too long, it was CHRISTMAS DAY!
My cousin Kate has in recent years been gallivanting all over the world with her hus doing cool and interesting things. She currently resides in Germany. There, she purchased… truly unforgettable aprons for the whole family.
Stephen and Tom look deeply proud of their toned figures.
And here’s me and my aunt Kathy. I enjoy that my torso is bare, yet I wore a scarf to keep my neck warm?!
My aunt Kathy to my right was hostest with the mostest who made the most incredible Christmas brunch including a million delicious kinds of cheese, a million delicious breakfast casseroles, and the true highlight of Ina Garten’s roasted salmon tacos which are just God’s gift. I ate a lot more than this plate (and def said hello to a mimosa or two as well) but I was just too busy soaking up the merriment, yknow?!
And last in the apron series (for now anyway haha) here’s sis, me, and mama. I love how Malindi has four hands, two on her hips and two at her sides. I’m also a bit alarmed that I’m the only woman in my nuclear family who got a dude apron…?! Also you can see in this pic I’m wearing some fetching Mrs Claus socks, a Christmas gift from my wonderful sister.
So Christmas brunch was smashing as always.
Yet because I am a child of divorce, I never have just ONE Christmas. Rather, instead of rolling home from that wonderful brunch and throwing on sweatpants, I instead embark for an evening celebration with my dad’s family.
We started by playing Wits and Wagers (my gift to my dad last Christmas!) and eating artichoke dip. That was pretty fun.
And then we ate yet more epic food. My sister made this ABSURD pumpkin bread stuffing that has so much butter and sauteed mushrooms and deliciousness. My aunt Jeanie made smashing scalloped potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts. I made a salad with bleu cheese, craisins, candied walnuts and homemade vinaigrette. And my dad, as he will do every Christmas until the day he dies, made lamb.
So Christmas round two was a success, and then in the next few days I relaxed. I once again contemplated eating my best friend’s baby because he’s so freaking cute (that hat was a baptism gift from me… CAN YOU EVEN WITH HOW CUTE BABY CATS ARE?!)
That day we went to Sweetgreen, which is another of my Northern Virginia must-visit destinations. It was helpful to eat something that actually contained fiber in the sugar-fueled days surrounding the holidays, but also this shroomami bowl is just legit delicious any time.
I may not have any human babies but the family cat, Sheila, was very happy to spend lots of time with me. Most of my clothing I brought home for the holidays is coated with a thin layer of ginger fur. I have to say, some of my best moments at home were spent lying on the couch with kitty. Sometimes chatting with family. Sometimes listening to Christmas music. Sometimes drinking tea. Sometimes just spacing out and staring blissfully at the tree.
This photo is not particularly flattering but I love that it includes a Christmas tree/stockings/snow globe.
Oops, yep, better see the baby again. Lydia and I reunited with Lawrence, one of our pals from high school. We did Model UN together so, uh, yeah. We’re all awesome.
We hunt out at the Korean bakery and stared at the baby, talked to the baby, made the baby laugh, etc.
And then in the following days I did an increasingly poor job documenting my fun activities as I got towards the end of winter break, one because rudely Lydia and her family left to go to their “home” in their “town” where they “live” which is unfortunately far too far away in Illinois. Oh and also I was starting to get bummed about going back to work. Oh and also my epic travels and various life experiences have led me to do some heavy, deep ruminating on the nature of family.
So I don’t have any shots of our annual family post-Christmas house but lo there were cookies and lo they were good. Nor do I have pictures from the various outings I did with some old grad school friends who all ended up having a mini reunion in DC (Erin from Boston! Claire from Tanzania!)
But I will fondly remember my final event of Christmas vacation, which consisted of actually going *out* somewhere and *celebrating New Years Eve* for the first time in, legit, 8 years.
Aaaand all I have to prove for it is a blurry Instagram photo where my face is mostly obscured. This is probably for the best hehehehe. But there was a 90s DJ and mad dancing and I still left early enough that we got an affordable rate on an Uber and I went to bed at a reasonable hour and we are going to call all of that a WIN!
Hope everyone’s 2019 is off to a good start! I am hard at work on South Africa posts and can’t wait to revisit my adventures there ❤