Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Wrapping Up Christmas - Part 1

The holidays, from Thanksgiving to Christmas, are a bit of blur.  It seemed we were constantly on the run going to parties, and shopping.  At the same time we were battling the cold, the snow, and illness.
I got sick before Thanksgiving, and I'm still not completely over whatever it was that hit me.  Despite the fact that I had my yearly flu shot, I got some sort of virus that laid me low for weeks.  I ended up with an ear infection and sinus infection.   I tried not to let the bug that bit me slow me down much.  I also tried to not pass it on to others.  For this reason, and because we were so busy, I took a blogging break from Thanksgiving until after Christmas.  Now, I'd like to catch you all up on some really old news:  Christmas!

Mid-December, I was really on the party circuit.  We had so many fun gatherings with friends new and old, that I was glad that I took a break from blogging so that I could, despite being sick a lot of the time, enjoy the wonderful parties that we had the pleasure of attending.  Of course, one of the highlights of the season is always our high school girl friend party.  This year, we again laughed and ate and laughed and joked and shed a few tears as we shared updates about what we had been up to since we last met in September.  We may have met more than 50 years ago, but we are still girls at heart, and "girls just want to have fun."  I love these girls and am so blessed by our friendships.  Here is our 2013 Christmas picture.  Aren't they all lovely ladies?  They are all among my great treasures in life.

We held a family Christmas party at our home on the Sunday before Christmas so we could celebrate with our Colorado family.  The night before the party, my daughter Amy came down to spend the night and to help me prepare for our guests.  Since this particular night was December 21 and the Winter Solstice, we celebrated the occasion by going out for pizza.  After eating we made our way to the Broadmoor Hotel to see the Christmas lights.  I need to work on my photography skills, but at least you get some idea from the photo I took of how beautifully the grand hotel was all decked out for Christmas.  
One of the great draws for the Christmas visitors this year was this gingerbread house made by the bakers at the hotel.  It was amazing.  

And, it provided the perfect backdrop for a photo of the grandchildren.
Hannah and Mason
I was touched by the beautiful expression on my husband's face when he showed me this menorah that he found on display at the hotel.  I see both pride and sadness in this dear face as he no doubt  remembers and honors the fact that he is the son of Holocaust survivors.  

When we got home from our night out, Mason and Hannah got out one of the board games.  They played the game of Life.  I love how they like to play board games.  We always seems to have that tradition of playing some sort of card or board game when we are all together.  

The next day, we were all jumped into high gear as we got ready for our Christmas dinner for the family.  I remembered a few more things we needed from the store.  Mason, at fifteen and a half, was thrilled because this meant he could drive Grandpa Jim to the store.  Off they went with Mason driving his mom's car while Jim became co-pilot.  I must admit I got a tear in my eye when I saw my grandson drive for the first time.  Where did my cute little curly headed baby boy go?

Amy, took over in my kitchen.  I could not have done it all without her.  She set up all the tables and decided how we would serve the food.  I just realized we sure have a lot of red in this house!  Can you tell it is my favorite color?  

I wanted to bring out the china for dinner and use real silverware.  Amy and Jim had their way.  We used paper plates and plastic utensils.  In my childhood, and whenever I have entertained the family in the past, we used the china.  This year, I was overruled.  Everyone thanked Amy and Jim when it came time to clean up.  I guess I am just a traditionalist.  My father was always strict about a well set table with all the proper utensils and a salad bowl and or bread plate.  Those habits of setting the table properly for holiday dinners are just too ingrained in me.  I also remember all the fun the aunts all seemed to have as they gathered in the kitchen to wash all the dishes and pots and pans after a big family dinner.  Ok, maybe they didn't have fun, but it seemed to me they did.  At any rate, we threw our dishes and utensils away when we finished dinner, and Amy set up everything up quite nicely.  
Once her chores were done, as we waited for all the guests to arrive, Amy put her feet up for a bit while I pretended to be in charge of kitchen.  

Son-in-law Greg, married to Jim's second daughter carved the ham.  

Grandpa Jim helped greet his daughter and others as the house began to fill up with our children and grandchildren.

We had an eclectic meal, but traditional for us, of green chili made by Grandpa Jim, and tamales.  We did not know where to buy good tamales in Colorado Springs, so we got these from Costco.  They were very good.  

We also had ham, and a wonderful jello salad made by Jim's daughter, and my Spanish rice.  (This year I didn't explode the pan on the stove just before the guests arrived as I did a few years ago.)  I also made homemade rolls.  They weren't my best effort.  I'm a bit rusty, but everyone said they were still better than store bought.  

The new hit for our family dinners, is this kale and pomegranate salad.  Amy first made it for Thanksgiving.  Thia then brought it for Christmas.  We have all declared it one of our favorite salads of all time.  

We now have mostly teenagers for grandchildren.  I don't know how that happened so fast.  They gathered to fill their plates for dinner.

Thankfully, we were able to seat everyone.  We had three tables set up throughout the house.

The older kids...

The younger kids...

The adults...
Trinette, Jim's daughter looked so lovely in the sweater that matched her eyes that I had to take a close-up.  What a beauty she is, inside and out.  

After dinner, we all went downstairs to exchange gifts.  Here I am with daughter Amy and her children Mason and Hannah.  

Olivia, Avin, Rachel, Daphne, and Trista all gave me their best smiles.

It's smiles all around.  Caleb, Darby, Greg, and Daphne await the gift exchange.

Brad and Thia check out a gift.

Grandpa Jim loves Christmas.  He really does.  I think the kids all like the contents of the envelope he gave them too.  They all got something green and it fits in an envelope.

At the end of the day, Jim and I were pretty tired when everyone left.  He has a saying about when the kids and the grandkids visit.  "I love to see the headlights, but the tail lights are even better."  We say this because our energy is not like it used to be, but we also can hardly wait for the next visit.

Jim went directly to his chair and used his new Christmas gift from me:  an electric throw blanket.  This blanket is pure evil because if you dare to sit in a comfy chair and turn the blanket on during a cold evening, I guarantee you that you will not want to get up and do another thing!  He loves his new blanket.

There is more to come.  On Christmas Eve, we went north to Amy's house for a celebration.  Then, we flew out of Denver the next day and headed to Utah to see more of the children and grandchildren.  Stay tuned...


Jackie said...

Sally, I loved reading every word. Thank you so much for sharing your Christmas with us.
Your family is a lovely and gracious family. I enjoyed seeing all the smiles, and feeling the love as I read this post.
My heart was especially touched at the mention of your husband's family who survived the Holocaust. May we never ever forget. Ever.
I hope that you continue to feel better and better. Thank you again for a wonderful blogpost. I felt like a part of the family.

Terri Tiffany said...

I i really really enjoy your posts like this. You made me feel like I was there with you. You are so blessed to have family like this!!,

Arkansas Patti said...

What an absolutely splendid Christmas you had. Good friends, lots of happy family, wonderful food (if you want to share the kale and pomegranate salad recipe, I'd love it.)
So glad you are feeling better. I heard the flu shot was only 50% helpful. Sigh.

DJan said...

When did you ever find time to get sick? All of these wonderful pictures make me realize you have a truly special family, Sally. Thank you for inviting me into your celebrations. It's so lovely. :-)

Jeanie said...

Like everyone above, I really enjoyed seeing your family celebration and reading about all the shared fun and love. Jim definitely chose the right gift for all the teenagers and you were right on with your gift for Jim.
I hope you are feeling better in the new year and that things are going well for you.

Betsy Adams said...

Wow---what a fantastic Christmas you had.. You really were on the go... Lots of family and love for all.

I'm intrigued with the electric throw blanket... I want one.. Have already put it on my wish list for next year.... We keep our house at 65 degrees --and that's fine since the fireplace keeps us warm most of the time. BUT--when we have very low temperatures, it's hard to stay warm!

Can't wait to see more photos. Hope you are feeling better.

Linda Myers said...

Lucky, lucky you!

BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I loved reading this and seeing all the photos. It's lovely to be able to hand over some of the responsibilities for holiday gatherings, even if one doesn't get to use one's china (yes, same story here). And what a treat to see the Broadmoor Hotel decorated for Christmas and with a beautiful menorah on hand as well.

Barb said...

Your family festivities look like so much fun - I'm glad you didn't have to wash all that china, Sally. What were you thinking? You and I both love red - my home is filled with it. It's a color with great warmth and energy (that's what I tell myself since I have so much!) Hope you're feeling strong and rested in the New year. There is a lot of illness going around. Our d-i-l got sick last weekend while the family was visiting us, and they had to leave early Sun morning. So far, so good, Bob and I haven't caught anything.

thisisme said...

Hi Sally. Lovely to see you here again today, and to hear all about your Christmas celebrations. What lovely family photos you have shared with us, and the one with your special girlfriends of course. We're always girls in our hearts, aren't we?! You certainly seemed to have had a busy time. Sorry to hear that you were feeling poorly and I hope you will be back to 100% again very soon. May I wish you and Jim a very happy and healthy new year, filled with many blessings.

LC said...

What a wonderful time. i loved your photos and appreciated your captions. You have a beautiful family. They honor all the traditions that keep the family glue strong.

And you can set an exquisite table for a small guest list when the hostess is not battling those cold and flu bugs.

rosaria williams said...

You know that I got tired just reading about your celebrations! No wonder you got sick. Regardless, that is what holidays are all about. Glad you didn't spare any time or expenses.

Keicha Christiansen said...

All of the kids are getting so old! It still seems odd to see pictures at your new house. I guess it will take a few more visits there until I really feel like it's home. I still haven't had the famous kale salad. Apparently I'll have to come to Colorado in order to see what all the fuss is about.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

An electric throw blanket! I love it!

Thank you for sharing your holiday and your family. I, too, still set the table with the good chine. Only time all year other than Easter. Figure we need to use it as that's why we have it. Pain to wash, though. But I do the cooking so I don't have to do the washing.

Interesting also how our menus change with the addition of family. Looks like a fun time with your high school friends. how cool that you meet like that - and you certainly don't all look like it was 50 years ago.

Jeanie said...

I love seeing these beautiful pictures of your wonderful family. I've never heard of an electric throw -- that could be very dangerous indeed! It looks like a wonderful time filled with great love.

And the Broadmoor is unbelievably knock-out, gorgeous perfect. That's a spot I'd love to see. I love that photo of Jim with the menorrah. It's stunning.

Linda Reeder said...

What a big, beautiful family you have. Can't wait to see the rest of the celebrations!

PiedType said...

Hi, from another Colorado retiree. I've been checking out some of Ronni Bennett's "elder blogs" and was delighted to find yours. Sounds like we've even shared the same stubborn bug all winter. Here's to health and an early spring.

Deb Shucka said...

You sound so happy! I'm amazed at how many girls are still in your picture. That's a lot to stay together after all those years. Thanks for sharing your holiday, and for reminding us of all the best the holidays have to offer.

Kay said...

Oh my goodness, Sally! These are gorgeous, gorgeous photos! You've really captured the wonderful beauty and love of the holidays. I do especially love the photo of Jim with the menorah.

Perpetua said...

What a truly marvellous Christmas you had, Sally. Thank you for sharing it with us.

PS An electric throw blanket sounds the perfect gift for DH. Thanks for the tip. :-)