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Christmas and New Year were certainly a whirlwind! As a teacher, I’m always excited for the break in the winter, ecstatic for the holidays, and craving some time with my family. Steve and I are big on traditions – every year, we do a Christmas movie countdown of our favorite holiday movies – one every day from Dec. 1st through Dec. 25th. This year, Steve had become a bit attached to the Hallmark Christmas movies (who would have thought?). He loves Christmas even more than I do (which is saying something), so we watched a LOT of those. I think what we both really enjoyed was the positivity of it all – the decorations, the traditions, the love and time with family, and we always know it will end happily. If only life worked as easily!
In addition to our movie watching tradition and our annual Christmas party, we also always split time between our respective sides of the family. As each only children, it’s important for our parents to spend the holidays with us, so we make the time to see everyone. We spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my parents and grandmother, and then we drive about an hour and a half to spend Christmas day and evening with Steve’s family.
For my side of the family, it’s an easy and comforting Christmas Eve dinner. This year, it was soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (one of my favorite feel-good meals) and a Christmas movie. Most of the time, it’s White Christmas – my mother and my favorite Christmas movie. Then, Steve and I head home, put on our Christmas pajamas (we buy new Christmas pajamas every year and exchange them on Dec. 1st so we can wear them all December long), and we put tinsel on our Christmas tree and put presents under it. Steve is always way too excited to sleep, and he always wakes up far too early for an adult on Christmas morning, but I guess the excitement has never quiet worn off for each of us.
Christmas morning, we go downstairs and exchange presents in our pajamas. This year, Steve got me a beautiful poster for my classroom of one of the books I teach (The Great Gatsby) and an adorable little fairy house to put outside in our garden. I bought Steve books (his favorite!) and some new dress shirts for work. Then, we get ready for the rest of the day and head to my parents.
For Christmas at my parents, my mother baked a french toast casserole every year with bacon. She loves to bake, and we love her cooking. We always open gifts together and then eat breakfast. In addition to the gifts we get each other, every year we get my grandmother her favorite thing – a box of See’s candy. It’s a chocolate company from California, I think, and every year there’s a small kiosk in our mall to sell it just before the holidays. She swoons every year when we get it for her, and she dives right in as soon as she opens it. A true sweet tooth!
After we finish up with my parents, we head up to see Steve’s family. Most of his family all live in the same town, so when we visit, it’s a big family reunion every time. We have an early dinner at his grandparent’s house, and his grandmother and godmother have made the meal. Each year, the same traditional meal – cappeletti soup, salad, chicken cutlets and homemade ravioli, fresh bread, and then an array of Italian cookies and homemade cannoli and nut roll. To say the least, we eat in rounds and not long after, we’re all laying down on the couch or sitting around the kitchen table trying to digest. Usually, that’s about the time that the story telling begins. His father is one of five, and so he and his siblings recount their childhood antics, tell funny stories, and talk about who was more in trouble with their mother than the other siblings. At some point, Steve’s uncle Chris eventually tells some story that brings the whole house down in laughter and tears. Story telling is definitely a family past time, and we just love the family tradition of it all so much.