Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas with the Carrolls

All of the cousins with our Nonnie

Marshmallow Mouth Sean

Dad prepares champagne for his Xmas Eve toast

Bonnie with her baby Casey

Me and Emily on Xmas Eve

Christmas Babies - Trevor and Sarah

I never have been a morning person...

Sean surprised me with jewelry!

Santa gave Sean all new underwear!

Jimmy and Mom

Aunt Susan and Tommy

My cousins Cameron and Ethan

Our tree before...

Our tree after...

As I sat ‘midst the sea of shredded wrapping paper that completely covered the floor of our tiny living room, I thought to myself, “We are truly blessed!” Sean and I had a wonderful Christmas – we stuffed ourselves silly with holiday treats and seafood feasts, visited with family, and exchanged gifts in remembrance of Christ’s birth. It wasn’t frankincense and myrrh, but our family spoiled us with many nice gifts this year.

Christmas Eve brunch at Nonnie’s house was the kick-off to our non-stop 48 hour Christmas Tour. Because we live in such close proximity to most of the family, we have to find time to squeeze in a visit with everyone for the holiday. The visiting seems to last from sun up to sun down, but we enjoy spending time with everyone. Nonnie’s brunch isn’t the traditional sausage, eggs, and biscuits. No, instead it’s a hodgepodge blend of rich appetizers and the most wonderful beef brisket I’ve ever tasted! Nonnie brings the brisket down from Kentucky every year, and it’s melt-in-your-mouth fantastic. All 20 of us gathered in the living room to sing Christmas carols while Dad and my cousin Adam played guitar. My youngest cousin Emily (3 years old) was bursting with excitement as we sang, and then came time for the gift exchange. Since there’s so many of us, we chose to play the Dirty Santa game. With all the stealing and swapping, it turned into a lot of fun! Sean and I came away with an LED flashlight set, a coffee mug, and a gift certificate to Ghengis Grill – yum! I bet Nonnie was glad to see all of us finally clear out of there so she could get the house back in order.

Sean and I then went to Dad and Tracey’s house for the afternoon. It didn’t take long before Trey was begging to open presents, so we gathered ‘round the tree and began Gift Exchange #2. Trey seemed to like his presents from Sean and me. Buying for a 9 year old boy can be a challenge – especially since I didn’t have the money to buy a gaming system for him. He happily settled for a new hoodie, The Goonie’s DVD, and a do-it-yourself kaleidoscope kit among other things. Amanda surprised Dad with his favorite bottle of Molly Dooker Australian wine (no longer available in the U.S.) Tracey got perfume and a gift card to her favorite store, Sephora, and a Kangaroo Christmas ornament. Dad went all-out for Sean with a very nice pair of Maui Jim sunglasses. (Good job, Dad!) I’m excited to start using my new electric griddle as well as my heart rate monitor which will calculate my calories burned as I work out. I can cook up some yummy pancakes and sausage and then use the heart rate monitor to make sure I burn off all the extra calories!

After gifts, we enjoyed a very late lunch of Paula Deen’s shrimp and grits along with lobster bisque. Dad made champagne cocktails and gave a sweet toast to all of us. When we were finished eating, Sean and I started changing clothes and getting ready to leave for Christmas Eve service. It was then that I realized I had come without pantyhose. What a disaster! Not only would my bare legs freeze, but I didn’t feel comfortable subjecting the entire congregation to my hairy, ashy knees. Besides that (as if it could get any worse), I have a huge scab/bruise combo from a nice little fall I had on a Nashville sidewalk which needed to be masked. With Target closing in 10 minutes, Sean graciously rushed out the door and sought out a pair of pantyhose for his ill-equipped wife. Sean, you’re the best husband ever!

Rev. Hill led a very nice Christmas Eve service with the message that the greatest gift of all is that we are all children of God. Service wrapped up around 8:30 p.m. and Sean and I went to Bonnie and Ed’s house for a late dinner. Ed cooked prime rib and shrimp for us, and it was quite a feast! It was good to see Emily again as she’s been in Chicago for over three months now. We each opened a gift before leaving for the night. Sean and I didn’t get back to our house until almost midnight. What a long day!

We squeezed in a few hours of sleep before waking up on Christmas morning. Tom and Ann sent so many great gifts down from New Jersey. After we opened those, we exchanged gifts with each other. Sean gave me a beautiful diamond circle necklace which was a total surprise. I got so many nice gifts from my husband – he’s incredibly thoughtful (most of the time). One of my favorites was Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. I’m only 2 chapters in, but I can tell that this book is going to completely change my outlook on food.

Speaking of food…we went back to Bonnie and Ed’s for MORE FOOD! Can you believe it? I was still full from the night before! We had tasty treats and pastries from Merridee’s bakery in Franklin, and later we had scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon. In between all the eating, we opened MORE PRESENTS. (I told you we were spoiled…) Bonnie, Ed, Trevor, Emily, Sean and I were literally drowning in gifts and paper. Bonnie ended up with 3 new bath robes, and Emily got 5 sets of scarves and gloves. If she wasn’t before, she’s definitely equipped to fight the Chicago winter now!

Sean and I packed up yet again and headed over to my mom and Jimmy’s house for lunch. Mom hosted the whole crew: All of us plus Amanda (who is back from Australia), Mimi & Papa, my uncle Roger, Aunt Susan and her 2 boys, and Susan’s boyfriend Tommy. With another full house, Jimmy gathered everyone in the kitchen for a reading and a prayer. We sat down to the table and somehow managed to squeeze in another plate full of food. Y’all, by this point I was just so sick of eating…I never thought I would say that. And yes, we opened even MORE presents. I believe next year we’ll just get a U-haul…

I skipped dinner, and my belly thanked me.

Thankfully, Sean and I were both able to take a day off to recover after Christmas. We enjoyed a quiet morning around the table, and since my stomach had finally deflated, I made some Loveless CafĂ© buttermilk biscuits from the mix that Dad gave me. We had a jam sampler platter where we tasted some jam from Australia that Amanda gave us. Sean said it reminded him of ketchup, and he was sort of right – the jam had a tomato-y taste to it, but it was still good. We also re-heated some prime rib and dipped it in a sweet chili sauce (also from Australia). Amanda said the Aussie’s dip everything in the sweet chili sauce, and I can’t wait to do the same. The sauce was tangy, sweet, and a little bit spicy - just the way I like it! After breakfast, I was back in the kitchen preparing our dinner in my new Crock Pot from Mom. I was so excited to us it! I made a sweet and sour pork which turned out to be delicious and perfectly tender.

Recovery day was spent shopping and returning for Sean. I helped him pick out some new outfits for work and play. It was the perfect day to hit the mall – sunny and 60 degrees. We pooled our Christmas cash to buy a new home theatre system. Our previous unit had turned to crap. We weren’t able to watch movies or listen to CD’s, but now we’re all set to go. Thanks, Grandparents!. After shopping, Emily came over and ate dinner with us. We visited with her until it was time to go to bed, and now everything is back to the normal grind.

Let the countdown begin for 2008!

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Well sister, I am glad you had a wonderfully spoiled Christmas-- we always said this was the one time of year those divorced parents were actually not so bad!! haha
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the sweet chili sauce-- aparently the Aussies suck at making jams though since Jimmy also didn't like his.
I'm looking forward to the pictures from this new years party:)