Monday, December 26, 2011

Home for the Holidays

The Christmas season at my house, as you probably already guessed, is filled with lots of traditions.  I will see just how many I can sum up in one post. To start things off there is San Francisco.
Usually a day or two before Christmas Eve we head to the city for ice skating, to watch the play A Christmas Carol, and see the lights. All was lots of fun, even if our seats were in what we call the “nosebleed section” because they were so high.  My dad wants to write a book called Watching Vertical which would be all about ways to save money and getting these seats not only adhered to the model but left me seeing vertical as well. Oh well, the play was still great.
 Macy's at Union Square...a Christmas Classic
It may be Christmas, but we are still in California
 The Christmas tree at Union Square

The Boys
 The Cheesecake Factory overlooking Union Square.
Kevin may be my little brother, but he is not so little.
 Brian was sure he could eat this whole burrito
 as his afternoon snack...and he did!
We usually ice skate at the Embarcadero rink since it is the largest in the city. It was a bit tricky navigating on the chopped up ice between novice skaters and daredevil teenagers, but we managed!
 Moms never abandon their purses, even when skating, and dads always sport the same brown trench coat.

Christmas Eve involves Christmas Eve church, a “sleigh ride” around town to see the lights, cookie decorating, a turkey dinner and a Christmas movie. Getting ready for church is always a bit of a fire drill between my mom making sure everyone looks presentable and my dad worrying that we won’t get a parking spot or a seat. However, every year we always end up looking presentable with a parking spot and a seat and the wonderful service reminds us that sometimes we worry about the insignificant things and forget the true meaning of the holiday season – God’s gift to us in sending Jesus.
Our favorite holiday house...their electrical bill is $5000 a month during the holidays.  Also, the "DITTO" in their neighbor's house with the arrow pointing to their house is classic!
Then comes Christmas morning! When we were little we woke up at the crack of dawn and would jump in bed with my grandparents and talk of how we all heard Santa.  Even if we didn’t hear him we still pretended that we did to not be outdone by the others.  Now my brothers all sleep until 10 or 11 but I am awake by 7:30 and usually quite bored by 8:30 so this year I took my dog Amber for a walk.
Around 10:30, according to tradition, we all line up at the top of the stairs, youngest to oldest, and then run down the steps as my dad video tapes and Bing Crosby sings in the background.  We spend the morning opening presents, having egg strata and cinnamon rolls for breakfast and finally opening stockings. I must say, I did pretty well with choosing presents for my family this year. A running watch for my dad who just picked up running again, pretty earrings and reusable hand warmers for my always cold mom, the Guinness Book of World Records for Kevin (14), a fancy torch lighter for my pyromaniac brother Brian (17), and tickets to the Casey Donahue concert at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth for J.J. (20) and his girlfriend. Our Christmas pictures always turn out terrible but here are a few of the bunch.
 J.J. got Dad the Justin Beiber Christmas CD which he in he played it all morning long.  Looks like Bing Crosby has been replaced.
To finish up the day we have dinner with my dad’s youngest sister and family. This year my grandparents on my dad’s side joined as well. The little cousins were still on a Christmas high and could not stop talking about the dolls, skateboards, and action figures that Santa brought!  We all enjoyed a nice dinner and exchanging gifts.
Brian teaching Caroline some video editing tricks.
 Coco and her Christmas energy!
 Grandma and Caroline
 My dad and his mom
 The kid's table, but we put it right next
to the adult table so no one felt left out.
 Me, Grandpa, and my dad's sister Laurie.
Christmas 2011 was another success and I am so thankful for the wonderful family I have been blessed with.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Never Too Old for Christmas

If anyone says you are too old to celebrate Christmas, I beg to differ!  In fact, it seems that the older I get, the more excited I get about Christmas.  The entire month of December has been a continuous preparation for that one special day.  And it is not just me, my roomies are the exact same way.
The Roomies at Christmas on 5th Street
Our Christmas season started with Christmas on 5th Street.  A special holiday event that Baylor and KOT put on the first Thursday in December.  There was a Christmas concert, Christmas tree lighting, cocoa, live nativity scene, TONS of decorations, sleigh rides, pictures with Santa, a pathway of Christmas rooms to view in the student center and much more.
 Baylor is just beautiful at Christmas
 The Kappa Pickers singing carols before the concert
We could not believe the size of the camel at the live nativity
After the last day of class before finals, we had our very own Christmas.  It started off with us all putting on the Christmas nightgowns Chloe bought us and heading to Cracker Barrel to get breakfast for dinner.  We then proceeded to play Christmas music and drive on a "sleigh ride" all over Waco to find the best decorated houses.  I am proud to say that my Kappa advisor Tommye Lou had one of the best!
 Who said you can't wear pajamas to dinner??
 Cracker Barrel
The traditional fireplace shot which we almost burnt ourselves taking 
The traditional tree shot
Somewhere along the way we decided that Christmas caroling was a must and started practicing our songs.   We decided on “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, “Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer” and “Jingle Bell Rock”.  The Dollar Store had some fantastic bells, Reindeer ears, and candy canes we picked up and the workers loved that we sang the entire time that we were in the store.  The caroling was a success; especially “Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer”.  Emily, Peyton and I were in the front row singing the song and then Chloe and Bekah were hidden behind us and would jump up to add the extra parts like “like a lightbulb”.  Usually by the end of Rudolf we were laughing so hard along with our friends that we were caroling to that we couldn’t even get to “Jingle Bell Rock”.
Getting supplies to carol
After caroling we returned home to make chocolate covered pretzels which were quite gourmet.  We dipped the pretzel stick in white chocolate and then drizzled them with milk chocolate before sprinkling them with peppermint sprinkles.
Of course a roomie gathering would not be complete without some self-timer pictures.  We took about 100 but here are a couple.
Lastly we had our gift exchange.  We each had drawn a name before and had to get a present and ornament for our person.  Everyone loved their present and Chloe got the award for giving the most creative ornament…make sure to read the note before you look at the picture of Bekah with her ornament.
 The Note....
Bekah and her ornament...aka "Chloe's Head"
 Me with this awesome ornament Bekah found...a camera that looks like mine with a picture of the Eiffel tower in it - Paris is my favorite city!
The Christmas season always reminds me of how blessed I am!