I asked myself, sitting in class last Friday, whether I should bother writing a post about Christmas. I hemmed and hawed. Once Christmas and New Year's have passed I'm kind of a "you're dead to me, Holidays," at least until next Thanksgiving sort of girl. I take the Christmas music off the iPod, all the decorations get tucked back into the basement right after New Year's Day, presents need to find a tucked away space, because I'm ready for real life again. I'm ready for that slightly empty looking house, and salad instead of cookies. I don't know why I feel this way, but when I see Christmas lights up in late January it makes me kind of pissy. Like "Come on, people!" at least unplug them.
For some reason I kept putting off sorting through the vast collection of photos and actually taking the thirty minutes to sit down and describe the holidays in writing. I think the heavy blogging in December burned me out by January. Or I'm just lazy. Yet when I started catching up on the last ten years of photos and memories, I realized, hell, it's only a month late, and I'm going to regret not capturing our Christmas spent up in the snowy wonderland of Wisconsin. So here you go, Christmas 2010.
Joe and I drove up to Madison under threat of looming bad weather on the Thursday before Christmas. But nothing happened. It was cold but totally clear, and we brought Mac too. We don't normally bring the dog with us up to Madison. Jim and Katy have two cats, two small boys and the last thing they need is a dog running around but our vet was booked, all of our Mac lovers were out of town, so Mac traveled too. We got to Jim and Katy's lovely new house, the Sands Estate, relaxed a bit, while they were out celebrating Christmas with Katy's family. Joe's parents arrived shortly after we did. Their car was so full of gifts that I'm pretty sure Sherry almost had to leave John at home. We all unloaded their car, it may have taken four hours, I don't recall, but it took awhile. And then it was time for beer. Which I vividly recall! The four of us headed out for dinner at The Great Dane, a great local brew pub with an enormous menu, and did I mention the beer!?
We each ordered a different hand crafted brew, taste tested while we waited for a table and then we tucked into a tasty meal, lively conversation and the odd fact that every single table had it's own big bottle of hand sanitizer. I guess Madison just wants to make sure you've got clean hands.
After feeling a touch tipsy after one Velvet Hammer, named appropriately, we headed back to Jim and Katy's. They showed up shortly after we got back, with Jackson and Connor. Jackson was a little sick, sleepy and snotty but adorable. And Connor was on a serious Christmas high. He ran back and forth between all his new Christmas toys, showing us each one and explaining which were his and which were Jack's, but he assured us that Jack would share with him. We hung out, played with the boys, and looked in awe at the vast amount of cookies, bars, snacks and treat, ate some too, and introduced Mac to the two rulers of the house, the fluffy yellow Max and Jake. Max essentially stared at Mac off and on all weekend, they skirted each other respectfully, but Jake walked right up to Mac, glared at him, when Mac approached he wacked him smartly across the face with one paw. And dominance was declared, the smack down was delivered and the cats owned Mac for the weekend. It was perfect. And then the combination of travel and beer and animal introductions and excitement hit us, and we all went to bed.
Christmas Eve was filled with kids and sleeping in and sushi covered in red and green tobiko, festively requested by Jim. Then a random trip to Home Depot for dart board cork, which for the record, they do not stock. Then the most adorable church pageant in the history of church pageants commenced.
We walked into the entryway of St. Maria Goretti Church and it was filled with gangs of small angels, shepherds, wise boys and girls being tended and wrangled by their parents.
It was sweet and uplifting. And then we cut out of church before mass had even begun. No, we didn't cut out to go smoke and make out behind the sanctuary, we aren't sixteen, we had to go pick up the final, missing Sands, Jon, from the bus stop. We picked up Chicago Jonny and headed back to the house for a little Chicken Surprise dinner and family time. Wrapped up the night with a sporadic viewing of Love Actually, and bed and then it was nearly Santa time.
Sweet baby Jesus, it was a Christmas explosion on Saturday morning. One whole room was nearly filled with piles and towers of gifts. I was afraid the little boys might get lost in a sea of wrapping paper and Santa bags. Hours of present opening, coffee consumption, little boy laughter and looks of amazement and glee. Squeals and running, Connor actually got tired he had so many things to open. It was excellent.
Santa arrived for a personal visit around 10 o'clock wearing a hefty luxury watch (clearly this Santa gig is paying well) and with a face that looked vaguely like Katy's older brother Chris.
Katy's parents, Tom and Mary Jo, brother Chris, and Aunt Bonnie came over for brunch. We played with the kids toys and our new toys. Aunt Bonnie and I talked iPads. We had eggs benedict and monkey bread, because who doesn't want those delicacies on back to back weekends? We bagged up piles of wrapping paper, chased kids and dogs and just hung out for a few hours.
Afternoon was movie time. We all headed out to see True Grit. I think everyone loved it. The story, performances, the writing, costumes and set, it was fantastic, just a classic, well done Western even the Duke would have been proud of. Other than having to shush some idiot teenage girls sitting behind us, they kept offering questions and unhelpful commentary, it was a nearly perfect two hours. Back home for more food, more family and somehow our Christmas holiday was nearly over. A big thanks to Jim and Katy for hosting everyone. It was wonderful to get to see Connor and Jack on Christmas morning and to simply have the chance to spent some extended time together with the whole family.
Sunday we packed up a considerably lighter load into the car and headed south to spend the day with my dad and Kristy, my stepmother, and her family who live in Sterling, IL, just a couple of hours from Madison. It was a laid back relaxing day. Lots of football and snacking, hanging out with Kristy's parents, Paul and Phyllis, siblings Karla and Kevin and spouses and kids. I played dueling Fruit Ninja on the iPad with Isabell, chatted with Maranda, and listened while Joe gave Lightroom photo software lessons to Mason. We got to meet the sweet and lovely Shannon, Logan's girlfriend and talked caramel and peppermint patty recipes with Phyllis and master candy maker Paul. We headed out of Sterling and spent the night in Davenport with plans to leave early Monday morning with plenty of time at home later. But we woke up Monday morning and Iowa was blanketed in freezing fog. So we hung out at the hotel, for a few extra hours. But once we hit the road late morning it was a quick trip home. And that wonderful feeling of walking in your own front door after a few days away, washed over me. I think we all had a great time and I can't wait to see our nephews, and of course their parents and grandparents again soon, but it was nice to be home.
So that was Christmas. I'm sure I missed something since it's been a month, but now currently stuck in the doldrums of January, it was kind of fun to flip through photos and think back a few weeks to that festive peppermint smelling, wrapping paper ripping, snow, and kid giggle filled weekend.
Photos by Joe and Jim Sands, I'll let them argue about which ones belong to which.