Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's beginning...

So, we put up our tree and decorations. This year we made a pre-setup IKEA run to see if we could spruce up our festive, yet a-bit-sad-looking tree, especially the garland. I got the tree when I first moved here second-hand from another family who used it in their business. The decorations came with the tree, and while I had added my own, the garland was still the second-hand stuff. There was one string of gold, blue, pink, and green, and the ornaments were all different shades of pink. Not that there's anything wrong with that...,
So, we found this more tasteful and thinner red garland at IKEA, and my husband picked out the string of silver balls, too. Along with a couple of red candles and some gift boxes, we were ready to go. The garland has been repurposed in my office, where we'll take any festive cheer we can get. Haha. No, really.
Also at IKEA, we got a prefab gingerbread house, some assembly required.

I thought it was cute that the instructions for the gingerbread house were just as confusing and unreadable as most IKEA instructions. For the icing, in 25 different languages, it said "Mix 10 dL icing sugar, one egg white, and 2 tablespoons water." What the heck is a dL? I know like three languages and could probably read a few more, but that stupid "dL" was in all of them. My husband's guess was "deciliters", which would have meant 100 liters of sugar, and is sugar even measured in liters? The box we had said "250 grams." So, I opened good old Betty Crocker and made her recipe instead. And the house was/is soooo cute. We'll probably attempt to eat it this weekend, and it will probably be appropriately stale. The candies aren't completely fossilized yet, so we might have a chance. I hope our dentist isn't reading this. Hi Trent! I promise to floss afterwards!

The rest of the pre-Christmas festivities this week included having friends over for our 2nd Annual Cookie Decorating Extravaganza. We decided that 2 times constitutes a tradition, so this is our new tradition. Unfortunately, the icing was not as spreadable as we would have liked, but our friend got creative with sprinkle stencils made of wax paper.
Of course, this is all just an excuse to spend times with friends and celebrate in general. I'm so thankful for our friends, and most of all, I'm so thankful for Christ!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thanksgiving Miracle!

Sorry I haven’t written for a while. I was busy celebrating Thanksgiving THREE TIMES! Living far away from my family, it’s easy to assume that Thanksgiving might be a sad or lonely occasion. When I first moved here, although I enjoyed celebrating with new friends, I definitely felt the absence of my family. I still miss the Arizona Thanksgivings – sitting out on my aunt’s porch, spreading the food out on a ping-pong table covered with a plastic table cloth. Eating turkey, and more turkey, and all of the delicious fixings. Drinking Martinelli’s, or punch. Taking a walk, then coming back just to eat more – pumpkin pie. And more pumpkin pie. I had a little moment on Thanksgiving when I couldn’t access a live stream of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I shed a little tear, yes, I did. Then I watched reruns on YouTube.

Last year, our first year married, I wasn’t sure exactly how we would handle holidays, so we just made stuff up as we went. Thanksgiving rolled around last year, and I thought, I wonder if my in-laws would enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner? We decided to invite the whole family, because, why not? And they came! I think they mostly came last year because they thought, Oh, this poor girl wants to celebrate this holiday and invited us, so we should go. By the week of Thanksgiving, I was more than a bit nervous. Am I crazy? I have to cook all of this food alone? And a turkey? What? The plus side was that no one coming really knew what it was supposed to be. I could have ordered Burger King and put it on fancy plates and no one would have really cared. But I cared, darn it. I cared. And it all turned out wonderfully, with everyone asking immediately after the meal – “You’re doing this next year, too, right?”

Fast forward to this year – the questions about Thanksgiving started around November 1st – When was Thanksgiving again? You’re making pumpkin pie again, right? That felt good. I told everyone we’d do it the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and everyone decided to do a three-day fast before, as a joke. Then it wasn’t a joke. We all, I mean the whole extended family, got a stomach/intestinal bug about three days before Thanksgiving, along with about half of the city, from what we heard. I’ll spare you the details, but I was so thankful that we had decided to keep the two bathrooms as functional bathrooms. Just sayin’.

I was getting nervous, since Thursday was thaw countdown T-3, ie, I had to take the turkey out of the freezer, and that’s the point of no return. My husband said all systems were go, although most systems were still way too much go, if you know what I mean. I went ahead, though, and started thawing the turkey. By Friday most people were better, and on Saturday, everyone was able to eat the dinner. It was a “Thanksgiving Miracle”! We had a great family time, complete with crazy antics from my husband’s hilarious uncle, and his cousin’s 2-year-old being cute in general.

Then, since we had so many leftovers, we invited three people in town from AZ for a repeat the next day. And we STILL had leftovers. Then, since everyone was so sick on Thanksgiving, our friends from church decided to postpone their celebration, so we had another dinner with our church family last Saturday. And another miracle – I didn’t gain any weight! Even that sickness was a blessing in disguise!

So, while I still miss my family in AZ and nothing can replace those times, we’ve also started new traditions here, going with the flow, and so thankful for an overabundance of turkey and times with friends and family this year.