Hello friends! How was your Christmas? Did you get to spend time with loved ones? Did you eat all the sweets and snacks? Did you watch Die Hard all day? Was it just a regular Wednesday for you? However it panned out, I hope you had a nice day.
For the first time in my adult life, I hosted my family for the holiday. After spending the last ten years traveling hundreds of miles in winter weather on our week off from work/school to split the holiday week between both of our families we decided to have people come to us for a change.
My family lives closer than his (2.5 hours away as opposed to 6) so they could make a day trip to visit. The most stressful part was figuring out the timing so I could figure out what to feed everyone. I thought about doing brunch things to snack on when they arrived and then provide cold cuts for sandwiches in the afternoon, but while I was out grocery shopping I saw half hams on sale and quickly came up with a few low-fuss sides I could do while the ham cooked. I got baby carrots and candied them, baby gold potatoes to mash, and apples to make homemade applesauce. Everything was delicious.
I made the applesauce the night before and let it cool in the fridge overnight. The potatoes I cut up and tossed in my InstantPot with some minced garlic (courtesy the handy garlic press my MIL had sent to me for Christmas), in the morning before anyone arrived. The potatoes and carrots both only needed 20 minutes or so, and the ham had to sit for about that long once it was done cooking so I turned on the IP and started boiling the water for my carrots when it came out. I was glad I figured out the timing ahead of time, it worked out perfectly.
Eating so late in the afternoon wasn’t so bad either. We’d had plenty of snacks in the early afternoon when they started arriving and before we did presents. Chips and dip, crackers and cheese, cookies, veggies, you name it. A lot of those things are still in my fridge to be honest, haha. The worst part about the timing of the meal was that everyone headed out shortly after. They all had long drives, of course. My sister lives in CNY now too, so her drive was even longer. Thankfully her beau was with her and they drove back together.
That’s not to say we didn’t have time to spend enjoying each other’s company. There was a lot of that in the early part of the day. The mimosas helped, I’m sure. It was nice having so much laughter and warmth in my house. Between stockings and presents and “Christmas” movies on TV, we had a lovely time being together.
We started a new tradition this year, too. Well, tried to. Everyone was assigned one other person to get a stocking for, and then we could do one small gift for the remaining people. The idea was to not go overboard with gifting and spend more on just one person, but of course everyone broke the new “small, heartfelt gift” rule for everyone else. There were so many presents under my tree, haha! The stockings were fun, though. And I even have a beautiful fireplace we could hang them on.
It was a good thing my husband and I decided to open the gifts his family sent us on Christmas Eve. There wouldn’t have been any room for all those gifts. We also exchanged stockings and one or two gifts with each other, since we both had small piles of gifts for each other.
Overall it felt like everyone really loved their gifts and being with each other just as much. I wished they could have stayed longer, but I was also glad to not be the one who had to make the long drive home after for once. Being in my own home for Christmas for the first time was a remarkable feeling. We still have Christmas with my grandmother and my mom’s brother’s family next weekend (scheduling the get-together with the extended fam is always tricky and usually gets pushed closer to NYE or after) so the holiday will get a mild extension.
But speaking of gifts, I was very spoiled this year. I keep an up-to-date wish-list for people to peruse and get ideas, and I’m always amazed when I actually get the things I want off them. There were certainly a handful of gifts selected right off my list that I didn’t expect to receive but am overjoyed to have been gifted them.
I tend to use wish lists to get ideas for other people. My second sister had requested jeans and comfy sweaters on hers, so I went to JC Penney’s during the holiday season and found a great sale on both and assembled a cute outfit for her. My first sister had a wood-framed map of the lakes of the Adirondacks on her list, but it was way out of our “allowed” budget. I figured I could find something similar on Etsy and I found the exact same graphic for a fraction of the cost of the other one. I bought a frame and had a matte custom cut and my husband and I gave it to her as a joint gift. My third and youngest sister is the easiest for me to shop for because she’s my mini-me but artsier. Basically, if 17 year-old me would have wanted it, she will love it, too. I had her for the stocking though, so I filled it with Japanese candy and Pocky and artsy things and silly socks and for her gift I bought her a book she’d had on her wish list (Simon and the Homosapien’s Agenda).
For the curious, here’s what I got: a garlic press, a new electric wine bottle opener, an adorable teapot shaped like a cat, a 2020 daily cat shaming calendar and a gorgeous leather-bound journal (a wish-list item) from my in-laws; a Syracuse University hoodie (WL-ish), a graphic tee with “Nutritional Information of a Writer,” new winter boots (WL), and two bottles of local wine from back home from my sisters and their boyfriends; a whimsical Coach wallet clutch, a decorative wine-themed hanging sign for my kitchen, and a stocking full of chocolate, facial masks, liquor nips, a scarf, fuzzy socks, lip balm, and a toothbrush from my mother; two books (The Secret Commonwealth: Volume 2 of The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman and The Warrior of the Altaii by Robert Jordan [WL]), a new PS4 controller (WL), the new Modern Warfare (PS4), How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Bluray), a Homesick Candle (Washington scented, WL), and a stocking full of chocolate, a Barnes & Noble gift card, cat-themed socks, and earrings from my husband.
It’s been a lovely few days off, but alas, I have to work another half day tomorrow to finish out my week. I keep forgetting what day it is. That’s the tricky part about the holidays I suppose. Anyway, I’ll have more content for you this weekend. Still have a couple prompts and a handful of miscellaneous topical posts to finish out the year. Have a lovely rest of your week!
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