Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas 2013

Oh how I love the Christmas season!

I am an early shopper, wrapper, and do-er! My friends and family have a jolly good time poking fun at me about it, and I (try to) take it like a champ.
In all seriousness though, by Dec 1st, I am pretty well done. There are always some last minute this, that, and the others to pick up, or that jump off the shelves into my cart, but that can all happen at my own pace. There is no holiday insanity in my house!

Due to my obsessive planning, we were able to attend multiple functions without feeling like our schedule was over packed.

Notable events that we attended were...

A fully interactive trolley ride set to "A Christmas Carol". It's freaking hilarious! You start at a store (Cratchett/Scrooge's office) and then board the trolley. You make stops (and get off the trolley) at Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
They pull people from the audience to participate, including (always) the largest guy in the room to play Tiny Tim. 
In order to make sure they have the proper amount of people on the trolley at all times (no hitchhikers, and no leaving anyone behind!) Scrooge gives people oh-so-sweet names so he can easily identify. This year we had "the king of hummers" "blue coat girl" "dim wit" "rug lady" "Swiss Family Robinson" "Broken Wing" and others that are currently escaping me.

My mother's cousin came to do the trolley with us and spent the night. We got up the next morning and had breakfast at a local restaurant with my aunt and uncle. Stopped by Target as she was looking for one particular toy for the angel tree her church does. I had done a search of all stores near where she lives, and the only store around to have it in stock happened to be Target, right by the restaurant we were planning to go to. Santa working a little magic?
We came back to the house and started whipping up some coffee marshmallows (yum). We then decided we needed a little retail therapy and headed out to the stores. We scored some big deals on requested toys for her angel tree, it was a very productive day!

Hubby, the girl, and I volunteered down at the local food pantry. They have a toy drive, sponsored by a lot of local churches and companies, for under privileged children. On the day we went, our impression was that (well, it was more than impression, it was what we were told by the girl running it) we would be filling bags that would be delivered to these families.
First off, we walked into the warehouse area (the gym of an old school) and almost fell over. The outpouring of donations made me want to cry! There were rows upon rows of already filled bags. There were PILES upon PILES of games, clothing, bicycles, etc.
The lady running it all took one look at us and decided we were better suited to be used as grunt workers. (hey man, it all has to be done! The only problem was that the girl child was the one given the title of "broken wing" on the trolley. Yeah, she was a one armed helper. Oh well!)
We lugged toys, bikes, bags, and comforters (freaking TONS of those!) up, down, and around 36 very steep stairs for hours! The girl and I sorted, organized, re-organized, and counted a million trillion bags. By the time we left, sore and exhausted, there was still so much to be done. Next year we would like to do it again, hopefully recruit some friends, and plan to stay longer.

My friend L and her hubby S had a Patriots's party today (we won't discuss the loss. :::sigh:::) We went early to swap Christmas presents. It was a nice afternoon enjoying old friends and making new ones!
I brought my deviled eggs, cole slaw, and a Grinch cake. There was more food there than we needed, but, 'tis the season!

My lifelong friend lives in FL. She decided to come up north and surprise her mother at the annual Christmas party. She had all her Christmas presents shipped here, and then flew here to spend the night.
The funniest part of it all, was, her mother left FL (from visiting my friend) the same day my friend flew here! Mom went out of one airport, and my friend from another. Freaking hysterical!
For dinner that night, we made homemade sloppy joes, macaroni and cheese, and dill salad. I also had whipped up a french toast casserole that was in the fridge overnight for an easy breakfast.
The next day, before she headed out, we started to make those santa hat brownies that are all the rage on Pinterest. From what I am told, they ended up totally different. Waiting for pictures, and am thinking that is a post for another day.

Today was the day of hubby's aunt's annual Christmas get together. His whole side of the family gets together for a Yankee Swap. 
I think everyone on the planet enjoys Yankee Swaps but me. I participate though, it's part of what "makes" it Christmas over there.
This year there was Christmas Trivia involved. Oh My Word.
Let's just say, we don't know as much as we think we do!
As this was a brunchy-type get together, I made deviled eggs and a make ahead mashed potato casserole.

I host Christmas Eve for hubby's side (immediate family) every year. It makes Christmas Day travel easier on my mother in law, that way she can see the other grandkids without driving all over the place.
It's low key, just family and some friends hanging out eating some good food.
We had Olive Poppers, Pizza Balls, Baklava Baked Brie, and an Eggnog Gingerbread Trifle.

Christmas Day!

We wake up at a leisurely pace...hahahahahaha...who am I kidding? I am up by 5 drinking coffee and waiting for hubby and the girl!
After gifts and some cocoa, we headed to my aunt and uncle's to spend time and do (gag, another!) Yankee Swap.
Love, love, love spending time with family. Holidays make for so many excuses to do so! 
We ate like kings and queens, per usual.
I made a Garlic Shrimp casserole and Hot and Sweet Carrots, which were delish!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

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