Friday, January 27, 2012

We Wish You A Merry Christmas...

Christmas this year was a little crazy... which I guess isn't all that different from the typical family Christmas, but this year, at least, it was for different reasons than the normal craziness caused by trying to fit an abnormal amount of people around a dinner table, the christmas morning chaos of flying wrapping paper and bouncing bows and the food frenzy that ensues when there are so many women in the kitchen- all of which are holiday staples.  
This year, I am happy to report, all of those events took place as expected and as usual, added to the holiday excitement everyone some how looks forward to all year.  On top of all of that, however, we had a few other exciting things that took place during our holiday.
Simon and I moved out of our apartment on the 20th.  We went straight to my parents' house and celebrated an early holiday.  We were glad we didn't have to combine moving out with a day of travel to Texas and we were blessed to get to spend some time with my parents before we headed off.  We spent about 3 days with them and they really dedicated a lot of their time to just spending time with us and that was really cool.  My dad took off work and we all went to a movie and shared meals and it was a nice way to relax after all of the packing and end-of-semester stress.  On the 22nd we celebrated an early Christmas with a present exchange since we wouldn't be there for Christmas day traditions.  We baked christmas cookies and played games and had a lot of time to catch up and chat. 
 Thanks Mom and Dad for that fun time of laughing and making memories before we jumped into the unknown.  We love you!!
While our original plan was to drive all day Friday, a change of plans led us to drive through the night  (by us I mean Simon, I just rode).
Shortly after our arrival Friday morning, family started pouring in.  This year was the first Christmas we had spent with Simon's family and I was really excited to experience their traditions since he had spend last Christmas with my family and experienced all of ours.
Things I have learned from my new family:

1. German tradition is to celebrate on Christmas eve rather than Christmas morning
This idea seemed strange at first since I couldn't visualize what differences it might present but I really enjoyed it: everyone was alert and awake, unlike the groggy bed head christmas mornings, and the whole thing felt warm and family oriented.

2. There does not have to be one Christmas meal
In my family Christmas was kind of like thanksgiving in the sense that there is one traditional meal around which the holiday is centered.  In Simon's family, so many people travel to the one location that they stay several days and therefore every meal is a celebratory meal.  It has been neat to see the different recipes that float around, the conversation sparked meal after meal and the expected and repeated cooking chaos that adds a little spice to the Christmas holidays.

3. Helping and Helpers
I was always the youngest grandchild in my family, the next youngest were the grand grand kids who didn't come along until I was kind of out of the Christmas-is-the-most-magical-time-of-year stage (although I must admit I do still love Christmas) so I never really saw just how much "helping" can mean.  Simon's little cousins-who feel more like nieces- love to help Oma and all of their Aunts with the cooking and baking.  As soon as a meal began to be prepared, in they came ready to help.   It meant so much to them and the smile on their faces when they felt like they had played a big part in something as simple as mixing the bowl was really a fun thing to watch.   Also, I have learned to really appreciate the memories that come with helping prepare meals as a family.  My Mom and Grandma really were in control of the heavy cooking in my family and we all lived so close people would just bring the side dishes or deserts already cooked.  (That was nice because there was less time spent cooking and more time spent talking, but this presents its own blessings too) Because of that I have never really been around such an exchange of ideas and methods and meals, meals, meals!  It has been fun to learn new things and also add new ideas here and there.  It hope I never get so wrapped up in making the holidays perfect that I forget how much helping can mean to the helpers.

4. Taking group pictures is never, never, ever a simple thing.
One good picture, ONE, that's all we wanted how long did it take? like 30 minutes... But I will say, there were some that I look back on and can't help but laugh.

At least we managed to get a few good ones out of it.

All of the girls minus Julia who was off being engaged (we missed you Julia)

Simon and I FINALLY taking a picture with Jessica and Grant

While everything hasn't been easy since we've gotten married and there have been crazy days and bumps in the road,  we have been so blessed.  Holidays are a nice reminder as to how special it really is to be able to experience not only the traditions I love in my family but also to step into the traditions that have been equally special to a family I have grown to love.

Better late than never...
Merry Christmas Everyone 

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