Until this year, I had never spent a Christmas away from my family, so when we decided to host Christmas at our house this year with Jeff’s family, I knew that I wanted to find a way to incorporate some of my family’s traditions, some of Jeff’s, and also add some new elements that were unique to us. For example, when it came to Christmas cookies, Jeff made Russian tea cakes and thumbprint jelly cookies for me; simple bars, cappuccino flats, and haystacks (chocolate peanut butter melted over chow mein noodles; as well as a few new favorites, like Ginger Snaps with three different kinds of ginger, French palmiers (puff pastry rolled in cinnamon sugar and orange zest), and chocolate truffles. In total he made 8 kinds of cookies, plus the 2 kinds his mother brought (ribbon jewel cakes and the best oatmeal cookies I’ve ever had)!
On Christmas Eve we went to our church’s Christmas Eve service with Jeff’s parents, a tradition we have both enjoyed in our respective families. After the service was over, we came outside to falling snow, which was a nice Christmas treat.
When we got home, we lit the luminaries we had picked up the week before and placed them along the road like many of our neighbors. Then we took Nova on a long walk to admire the Christmas lights and luminaries in the neighborhood, a tradition I would definitely continue. Nova loves being out in the snow. We thought her little toes would be cold but when we got home and held them in our hands, they were warmer than our hands, which had been in gloves and in pockets!
We warmed up with some hot Chinese takeout, a Hentschel tradition, and an episode of Sherlock. Before we went to bed, we placed each of the stockings in a different room around the house so that we could each deliver a few presents to each one without spoiling the surprise for ourselves. My mother-in-law, Linda, had made us new matching stockings to match our family room. We both love the stockings we grew up with, but I also love that we have matching ones to start off our own family Christmas.
Christmas morning we gathered our stockings and congregated around our family room tree to open them.
We got this great video of Nova opening her first stocking. She was so excited to see what Santa had brought her.
We took our time opening presents after that, each taking turns to open, like my family does (Jeff’s family traditionally opened family gifts on Christmas Eve and devoted Christmas morning to Santa gifts and stockings).
One of my favorite moments was putting some obscure ingredients in my father-in-law Jerry’s stocking and then seeing him put the pieces together as he opened the bread book we gave him and realized that all of the ingredients were for rye bread, one of his favorites.
Then we enjoyed some cinnamon rolls that Linda had made and spent the rest of the day leisurely enjoying our gifts until dinner time. Jeff prepared a leg of lamb and with his mom’s help, put together side dishes of rosemary potatoes and carrots, asparagus, and a berry and orange salad with a vinaigrette. We also shared a bottle of wine that we purchased on our honeymoon in Napa Valley. I particularly enjoyed getting to set a fancy table with a new holiday tablecloth and all the fine china we received as wedding gifts.
All in all I think it was a wonderful first Christmas as hosts, and hopefully one of many to come!