This Christmas has been so very, very merry. As the years move on, the holiday becomes less about stuff and more about people, which is a trend I can handle. With Gigi in our world for her first holiday season, Marcos' sister Elizabeth who recently moved to Chapel Hill, and my mom visiting for the holidays, we had special additions to our usual Christmas merry making.
A few days before Christmas we attended a wedding reception for our friend Jessica, and it was so nice to sit with our friends in a relaxing, beautiful atmosphere and chat and celebrate Jessica and her family. The gelato bar didn't hurt either, and the dancing reminded us that "newlywed" is not a status, but a way of life.
And then Christmas Eve rolled around and we joined our friends for some of our favorite traditions. First was the afternoon gingerbread making party with Rebecca & co. Rebecca is my dear friend, ex-boss (I worked for her while I was pregnant), she has taken basically all of the photos of Gigi we have that are worth talking about, but she and her family will be leaving us next summer for Columbus, Ohio. What will we do? I know that it is high time for us to share their brilliance with the rest of the US of A, but there will be some serious mourning in Chapel Hill in a few months. But we'll go back to focusing on candy so that I don't weep...
Each year, Rebecca's husband Dr. Dan (the man on the right with the intelligent-looking glasses) makes enough homemade gingerbread for each of the families present to make their own gingerbread log cabin. This year there were eight families, and Dan rolled and cut the pieces for eight log cabins. He definitely deserves an award.
Speaking of award, can we notice that in the photo below Gigi is a) smiling, and b) holding a rice cracker? My mom deserves an award for helping this girl to love food. Literally from one day to the next, Gigi went from making nasty you-are-feeding-me-poison faces when we fed her to suddenly feeding herself cheerios, mashed fruits, plain yogurt, squash, carrots and broccoli on top of all of the rice and oat cereals she used to despise. But that deserves it's own post...
Gigi sharing her rice cracker with Grammy/Grandma/Tutu. Below, the mammas hanging out after the last candies were piled on the roofs of gingerbread houses, and the kiddos had run off to play. It was such a gift to have moments to sit down and talk with beloved friends in the midst of all of the Christmas bustle.
And then it was time for our Mary and Joseph dinner at Jill & co.'s. Jill and her family have been doing the Mary and Joseph dinner annually for many years, and we were so lucky to be a part of their tradition this year. The Mary and Joseph dinner is a chance to celebrate Christmas Eve by eating foods that Mary and Joseph might have eaten along their journey to Bethlehem: hummus and pita breads, varied cheeses, dried fruits and nuts, grapes and the most delicious fish, olives and vegetables. Mom and I made simple place settings for the party, and some of our friends ate with their hands! After weeks of holiday foods and sugar overload, the Mary and Joseph feast was perfect. Ice water, and candle light, and very few frills. Perfect.
After the Bethlehem feast was consumed, we cleared the table and regrouped in the small beautifully decorated sitting room for "gifts that can't be wrapped". We shared Christmas poems, stories, sang carols around the piano and then reenacted a brief nativity scene with the kids. And just when I thought it couldn't get better, we went back to the dining room for platters of the tastiest cookies and treats, and Jill's husband Colin brought out a special gift for her - a phonograph that he found online! We ended the evening listening to old 45s on the phonograph, and dancing while we cleaned up the dishes. (For those of you my age, that means that we listened to little records on a record player, and the records only had one song on each side!). Jill and Colin's little baby Hazel slept in Heavenly Peace.
On Christmas morning, Santa did not disappoint: thoughtful Gifts and full stockings, and a wooden train for Gigi. After opening our gifts we went to Brandi and Matt's for Christmas brunch. I don't have any photos from our brunch party, but Brandi's homemade maple cinnamon rolls have left their mark in my heart and on my thighs.
Having an 8-month old during Christmas was really fun. Her favorite part of Christmas morning was the floor littered with wrapping paper, boxes and ribbons. Nowadays she is constant amusement and constant action. We love having her in our family.
And on Christmas night Marcos, Elizabeth, mom, Gigi and I bundled up and headed out for a traditional dinner with Kim and co. Ham, mashed potatoes and rolls, gravy and vegetables and a relish tray kept us completely entertained and happy. It was a beautiful evening as usual with their family. We couldn't ask for better friends here in North Carolina.
Photos of dessert? Again? Why yes. The stars on my apple pie and the twirls of Kim's pumpkin rolls were just asking for it.
Gigi, Gigi, Gigi... She is very much a girl. Her eyes go wide with wonder when she is in the presence of true feminine toys. A dollhouse? Yes, please.
And to complete a lovely Christmas, we left our dinner party to a winter wonderland. I am not a fan of the type of snow that makes driving dangerous, but the few inches of beautiful snow that we received on Christmas eve and Christmas day were the perfect reminder of the purity of the life of Jesus Christ, who is the reason for the season!