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In: Celebration

December 25, 2011

So This Is Christmas

Christmas is almost over. It is the evening of the 25th and the adults of this household are chilling on the couch with their computers shining in unison with the tree while the child can be heard sucking on his peacemaker over the monitor. Oh, what nice silence! Finally we are getting to the heart of Christmas spirit. The last couple of weeks were crazy busy – as always before the holidays. And as always we didn’t manage to send out all mail on time, print personalized cards, nor finish all DIY gift projects that were planned even though I started in November this year.

But at least we did manage to send cards at all, hand-wrote every single one, and got all presents purchased two weeks before Christmas. Let’s just look at the improvements here. Of course all the craziness was well worth it to make it Milo’s first memorable Christmas experience. As far as I can tell, he had a blast. The whole advent thing we had going on was a hit on its own. Every morning he demanded opening his advent calendar right after breakfast. He learned how to blow out the candles of the advent wreath (all set for his second birthday next year), and gazed at all the lights around the house as if they were new every day.

We made gingerbread houses and cookies with friends and went to see an amazing train display at Brookside Botanical Gardens.

Then Christmas weekend came and at first it didn’t look like it was gonna be all fun and smiles. Milo’s incisors decided to push through his gums and mama got a cold. But luckily both of those mean things turned out much minor as expected and so the fun began. As a family we are pretty new to this Christmas thing and will see how Tran traditions will evolve and play out over the next few years, but so far so fun. It all took off on the 24th at 2pm when we met my German family on skype during their Christmas Eve celebration. (If you are not familiar with German traditions, the evening of 24th is the main Christmas deal in Germany, not the 25th.) Everybody was just happy to spend an hour of quality family time together and even the usually crappy internet connection held up pretty nicely.

We got to open their presents that were shipped over here and they opened ours. Milo got some German books and a potty seat. He immediately got the connection, grabbed one of the books, and sat down on the potty for a good 15 minutes. Hm, who did you learn that from?

Afterwards it was time for us to prepare Christmas dinner. We had Linc’s parents and siblings over for a Bieringer style Christmas Eve. That means, nicely set table, four course dinner, and gift exchange between the immediate family members.

We made traditional pumpkin soup with homemade butter croutons and bacon crumbs, then a pecan cranberry spinach salad, then thyme apple pork chops with roasted rosemary vegetables. And baked filled apples with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce as dessert. Sounds like a lot of work, but actually most of the stuff could be pre-prepared and then just baked itself in the oven while we had time to tend to our guests. We even busted out my real silver ware that I got almost twenty years ago and had never used before. Just to throw in a little bit of craft blog, see here our table setting:

The next morning of the 25th began relatively unspectacular. Probably because the American in the house was still asleep and the German was running all the Christmas action. So no stockings filled with Santa goodies this year. I did manage to sew the stockings in a time crunch right the night before, but didn’t really have anything small to fill them with, so we will work on improving this part next year. I don’t know, maybe it would also just get too much. Because the biggest party of the weekend hadn’t even started yet. The extended Tran family Christmas party at Lincoln’s parents house. It is the usual craziness (a regular house filled with 30 people, tons of food, and 20 children of all ages) times 4. At least. Every family gives every single child of the family a gift , so we had an estimated 100 presents piled up around the Christmas tree. It seriously was a wall 5 feet high and 3 feet deep of boxes that almost completely covered up the tree.

Then the traditional photo of all kids in front of the presents is supposed to happen. Of course the kids couldn’t care less and have their eyes on the prizes, not the cameras. Surprisingly Milo stayed seated for the photo shoot when I told him to. Maybe we can apply this good listening to sitting on the naughty step next time he needs a time out? See here how it played out:

But wait, it gets even better. Someone starts passing the presents to the child’s parents, everybody sets up their station on the living room floor, and opens presents as fast as possible in order to not get buried. Kids get lost under wrapping paper, parents paper-cut their fingers, trash bags get filled with everything that is not in a child’s hand, … seriously, that’s how crazy it felt. Milo got completely overwhelmed, so I sent him to another room with the first best toy and then took more than twice as long as everybody else to open his gifts.

Yeah, it was fun and we are happy that we are done with festivities for a little bit. This week I will have three days off of work and we will do our best to just relax and play and relax and play. And hopefully see some of you Columbians for a play date and some of you Germans for a Skype date so that Milo can show his new toys and do a private happy dance just for you. Cheers!