We had nine Christmas celebrations this year, ten if you count my brothers birthday dinner (which is a holiday in itself). I'll describe each of them and include a few random pictures (sorry there weren't pictures at every party; we all know pictures are the best part of blog entries).
1. The first Christmas party was the Johnson side (C.J.'s mom's extended family). I was still finishing up school, so I had to spend a few hours at a local coffee shop to write a paper while Ceej enjoyed snowmobiling. I got to ride after my studies (such diligence, I know). It was so fun! Two surprises from the night: 1.) the power went out on the entire street and 2.) all the ladies got SNUGGIES. I was in heaven.
2. Second Christmas party was with the youth group that Ceej and I went to Convo with. We played Bananagrams and had tacos (my kind of night). We also exchanged white elephant gifts... one lucky kid got our wedding picture framed. He loved it.
3. Next "celebration" was my brother's Birthday dinner. We had pizza at Draganetti's. WONDERFUL. It was dreamy pizza and excellent wine. Great food and conversation as well! Happy Birthday big guy!
4. Third technical "Christmas" was the Thurner extended (C.J.'s dad's extended family) for the day at Chaos water park right here in Eau Claire. WHOA- the Eau C has really delivered on this one. It's quite the place! And, not to mention, the water is warm and there are 3 large water slides. Ceej and I were there for a few hours sliding and playing water basketball, but his family swam all day and night, staying at the Metropolis resort.
5. That same night we went to Andy & Mandy's first (annual?) Christmas party with our friends. We got all dressed up and had dinner with our close friends. It was a really lovely evening! We continued the night with a few games and a picture in Christmas Sweaters. It was really fun to be with these wonderful folks!
6. The next day was Thurner Extended Part II. The Thurners got together for the traditional meal and presents and games. We got to try out a new game like "Telephone" with drawing. It was great!
7. The eve of Christmas Eve was spent at Ceej's immediate family. We had yummy lobster and opened gifts. The kids got silly string and (obviously) enjoyed it! It was a nice, intimate time with close family.
8. Actual Christmas Eve was in Stillwater on a very snowy night. We drove there for dinner and gifts and then headed back in the rain/snow/beautiful yuck. After dinner we opened gifts and played Things. It was really fun, especially because 6 year old Mickeegan could play, too! My poor sister, Jenny, had the flu, so she couldn't make it. It was the first year my dad was to cook a turkey... I asked him how it was going and he said it was all done, just warming up. I peeked in the oven and saw the picture below. Yep, he had to get KFC because it was too frozen! A funny memory :).
9. Christmas day was spent at our house with my mom (my brother couldn't make it). We also invited our neighbor over who lives alone. We cooked pasta with herbs and olive oil, and shrimp, steak, pork, and chicken on a German grill that cooks on the table that we got from Ceej's parents as a gift. I'll totally chop the spelling, but it sounds kind of like "Grill-shine". It was a really nice night! We then had amazing vanilla bean cheesecake that Richard brought, played games, opened presents and chatted until late. A peaceful evening that was nice to not have to go anywhere for!
10. The day after Christmas was the Reich-Extended family Christmas back in Stillwater. We played games, ate, opened presents, and had some wine. Lots of laughs with all of the white elephant gifts!
As you can tell, the past couple weeks were wonderful but exhausting. We have literally slept in until 10 or 11 the past three days... which is way out of character for me. I think I have low iron, too, but that's beside the point. I love Christmas and it was so great to have so many wonderful family members to spend it with. I feel so blessed!
Ceej and I exchanged stockings on Christmas eve. We've been enjoying the winter wonderland and my time off of school by building a (beautiful) snowman the other day and sledding today. Unfortunately, our snowman's head was popped off today, cause unknown. It was a very sad moment for snowman.
3 weeks ago