Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas in the Carolinas

Well, apparently the trend we started several years ago - yes, I'm claiming this trend - of having a gingerbread house decorating throwdown has really caught on, because not only were there no prebuilt gingerbread houses to be bought in all of the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, but a clerk at Walgreens told me that they sold out for the first time in years because, and I quote, "families are having decorating contests" - DANG IT!!!  I mean, I'm glad that people are sharing in the fun, but not when it means that we couldn't participate.  So boo on that - no throwdown this year.  But that can only mean one thing...the Gingerbread House Throwdown will return in December 2016, bigger and better than ever!


Our first Christmas in the Carolinas (I don't know why Sam named it this, since we're actually only in one Carolina) was really nice.  We had snow - OH WAIT NO WE DIDN'T - it was 77 degrees on Christmas Eve and a balmy 72 degrees on Christmas day.  I didn't pack for this weather - I couldn't even bring myself to wear my traditional Christmas socks that I've worn pretty much every Christmas day since my Grandmother gave them to me about 20 years ago.  Yes, I was in flip flops and a short-sleeved t-shirt for the day, although I gussied myself up with my traditional Santa earrings.

But wait - I've gotten ahead of myself.  We watched Elf (starring my future second husband, Will Ferrell) on Christmas Eve.  Sam has a home theater setup, complete with large screen, and I couldn't resist having him pause the movie to take a selfie with Buddy the Elf:
Jeff didn't think I could make this work, but I proved him wrong.  This was the only shot where I wasn't laughing my head off as I tried to take the selfie...ahhh, life is good when you can crack yourself up.

Here's the rest of our Christmas, in pictures:
Sam's first Christmas tree, decorated with all the ornaments given to him from the time he was a baby to present day.  

Somehow a couple pairs of creepy glasses ended up in the stockings, so we all had to pose:
The combination of Jeff's Alfalfa-bedhead hair and glasses makes him look like he came straight out of some weird horror movie.

Mostly the stockings held candy, including some Dutch chocolate that I bought while thinking of Fran:
Little chocolate Dutch clogs!  They were cute AND delicious!

Paco barely got his present unwrapped before he started chewing on it:
Dis new bone is da best one ever!

He also caught a few mini marshmallows when Sam was preparing our meal:
As it turns out, Paco likes marshmallows a lot!

Here's Sam with the Fiestaware plate I got him to commemorate hosting his first Christmas:
A Christmas tree AND the year?  I had to get it for him.

Sam prepared most of the side dishes on Christmas Eve, but Allie helped guide him through the green bean casserole on Christmas day:
It was nice to sit on the sidelines and watch my kids cook and have fun together.

Dinner was served, but not before we opened our Christmas crackers, donned our paper crowns, and played with the toys that were enclosed:
Jeff got a clapping hand noisemaker while Sam got golf tees - hey, you never know what you're going to get in those things!
 Allie wouldn't take off the hat I knitted her, so she wore her crown on top.  I think it worked!

A few of our gifts:
Allie in her new favorite hat; me with the gift cards to Home Depot from my kids, so I can go buy a leaf blower when we return home; I'm also posing with my sweet MINI umbrella that Jeff got me (check out the gear shift knob on the handle); Sam feeding his new talking piggy bank.

I don't get to see my kids very often anymore, and lately, I don't get to see both of them at the same time more than once a year, so this was a pretty special day for me.  Our first Christmas in the Carolinas was a success!


  1. That looks like such a great day for you guys! Kudos to Sam for hosting and cooking and the tree. Those are some pretty big firsts.

  2. Glad you had a great time! It was a balmy 68 degrees here too but I didn't mind one bit! I went in to Walmart on Wednesday and they had a whole stack of Gingerbread House kits! I thought of you. Wish I could have mailed them to ya'll!

  3. So is that typical weather back there? For some reason, I thought it still got really cold, because its near the east coast??

    Noah shares Paco's sentiments EXACTLY, only he follows that statement closely with "must hide de best bone ever" followed closely by "where da best bone ever go??"

    So fun to see how much fun your grown up family still has together. Jeff definitely gets the award for the creepiest.

    Allie's hat is gorgeous, and looks perfect on her.

    1. No, this weather isn't typical for NC. It's rainy and cold this morning (Tuesday) so it feels a little more normal for here.

  4. I love seeing all your fun traditions (and hope for gingerbread house pics next year, lol) and that you got to be together with your kids. It's not often that I get together with my parents and three siblings and I cherish those times!

  5. What a wonderful Christmas you got to enjoy with your family. I will admit for a couple of years my kids and I did the gingerbread house competitions too (thanks to your posts). We didn't this year because my son could not come home for Christmas. (Air Force duties come first) It was hard for me since it was the first holiday without both my kids. I think when your kids come into their own the parents have to rethink how they do holidays. I now understand why my mother-in-law was so upset the first year my husband and I didn't go home for Christmas. It took 23 years to get it but I finally got it.

    At least you only had the heat during Christmas in North Carolina, all my friends and family in Alabama had flooding rain. Crazy weather....I got over 4 feet of snow while the east coast received 70 degree weather and rain, rain, rain!!

    1. Weird weather this Christmas just about everywhere, to be sure! Although my kadults don't live near us anymore, we still get to see them every Christmas. I can't imagine one without them; I feel for you with missing your son his year.

  6. Your family is so lovely! Merry Christmas!

  7. What a wonderful Christmas!! Maybe when you get back home you can find some after Christmas sales and stock up on the ginger bread kit for next year - I don't think you guys eat them anyway. :D

    I love Allie's hat - no wonder she didn't take it off, even if it was in the 70s!

    I am thankful I have Hannah living with me, but I get it when they are not close - even when Hannah lived an hour and a half a away, it seemed I only saw her every six weeks or so when our schedules aligned.

  8. What a fun Christmas! I, too, am realizing how much fun I have with this family that I created. We did the traditional Jewish Christmas at Chinese food and had a blast
    Love all your details; kind of like I get to be a voyeur on your Christmas since I don't celebrate (we watched Elf too....although, no selfies were taken!)

  9. Looks like you all had a great family Christmas. I do a lot of the adult stocking stuffing here, and I need to make a note to look for creepy glasses. I laughed out loud at your family, I'm sure I'd love them on mine.

  10. Family Christmas time is special, isn't it? Especially as you get older.

    That elf photo cracked me up. We watched Elf as well and I thought of you :D

  11. Looks like you had a perfect Christmas. Being with family is the best!

  12. It looks like you have a fun and wonderful Christmas and I'm so glad you had your whole family together! I know what you mean about being able to get both children together at the same time! Those days are few and far between :) Merry Christmas!! :)

  13. What a wonderful Christmas you had, so happy the four of you could spent it together.

    And that chocolate LOL. You won't be surprised I have never seen it here :)
    I will sent you some typical Dutch food next year so you can try it out.

  14. Despite the lack of gingerbread houses, what a lovely Christmas!!! The picture of you and your future husband is HILARIOUS and frame worthy!!!!! You guys are SO fun!!! Sending hugs to all! That includes you Paco!!!

  15. Can't wait for the double-super-special 2016 Gingerbread House Throwdown - I missed watching your family's cleverness (and competitive nature!) come through. Glad you had a nice Christmas with both kids. Buddy commissions into the Air Force in May, so next year may be our first with one of the chicks not able to come home for the holiday. NOT looking forward to that, but trying hard to enjoy this year's time together even more.

    Take care, Shelley, and Happy New Year!

  16. Looks like you had a wonderful Christmas, Shelley. I especially love the specs!

  17. I thought of you the other day when I went to the tore and saw a bunch of gingerbread house kits for sale on clearance! Looks like you had a great family Christmas!


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