Home for the Holidays - 2016 Edition

Another year gone by, another holiday season spent at home with my loved ones.  First off, let me say that DT and I have never spent Christmas together as we each always went home to our separate families.  Marriage did not change that.  Yes, we're weird that way.

I flew home on the Wednesday before Christmas, before traveling became completely nuts.

My mom had put up the tree and decorated it a little bit, but saved most of the good ornaments for me!  She knows it's one of my favorite parts of Christmas.

On Thursday, I went into my mom's classroom to meet her kids.  She teaches 4th grade and her class was awesome.  They asked me things like, "What's it like living in DC with Donald Trump?" and "Are you in high school?" My answers were "I don't hang out with him" and "Yes, I love you, tell me again how old you think I am."

We went out to dinner for my brother's 30th (!) birthday.  His birthday is the 20th, so it gets a little wrapped up into the craziness of Christmas, but I have a suspicion he likes it that way.  We tried a new restaurant, The Local, and were pretty impressed.  The tuna bowl was yummy!

Friday I ran all the errands - grocery store, second grocery store, liquor store.  You know, the essentials.  I managed to also get all my wrapping done, which was no easy feat considering I went slightly overboard with shopping this year.  I love giving gifts!

Saturday was Christmas Eve!  For the past few years now, my mom and I have started a new holiday tradition.  It revolves around alcohol, so you know it's a good one.  Every Christmas Eve, we make a new cocktail to enjoy!

It all started when I was a couple years out of college.  We enjoyed a poinsettia or six during Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparents' house, which is a delightful, bubbly beverage.  But one year, my mom suggested that we mix it up.  And we've been making a different one every year since!

This year, we opted to make a blood orange, elderflower, and gin concoction.  We used this recipe from The Little Epicurean.  I multiplied the recipe by 10 (oops?) and made it by the pitcher.

Christmas Eve dinner is one of my favorite holiday traditions because it's my favorite thing - appetizers!  My grandparents make kielbasa, shrimp cocktail, and chicken wings, while my mom and I have added guacamole, spinach & artichoke dip, and my mom's "the Big Dip" over the years.  There's plenty of snacking, taking breaks, and coming back for seconds and thirds.

Christmas morning was really fun, even though the youngest "kid" in the house is now 30!  We slept in a bit, made cinnamon rolls, and opened gifts. I got my favorite things - mittens and books!

After opening presents, the rest of the family started rolling in.  It was the first year we were hosting Christmas because my grandparents sold their house and moved in with my mom, so it was sort of a new old thing happening.  My aunts, uncles, and cousins all showed up.  We had a really fun dinner, complete with my grandmother's Christmas china, which I'm obsessed with.

After dinner, there was napping and relaxing, before gearing up for round two - the open house.  Christmas night, we essentially have an open house where the extended family and friends can stop by.  We weren't sure what the crowd would be like since this year is a new location, but we had a great turnout!  I made our cocktail for the second night in a row.  After spending plenty of time with family, my friends showed up to say hi, pick me up, and head over to another friend's house for more Christmas activities!

She was making yuletide mules - no idea what was in them outside your standard mule, but they were delicious.  My best friends and I exchanged gifts and then the whole crew of us played Utter Nonsense.  Hysterical.  If you think you're good at accents (and I do), play this game.  You'll quickly discover that you're terrible.

The next morning I was riding the struggle bus a bit, but I got my life together enough to shoot up to New Hampshire to visit my husband and his family.  It was a really nice visit.  Roaring fires, a nice dinner, a drive around the country roads.  

And that was that!  Back home on Tuesday afternoon, a quiet night, and off to the airport Wednesday morning.  Another successful Christmas in the books!


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