Monday, February 24, 2014

Christmas 2013

+JMJ+

I know, I know. Christmas is long gone by now...but I've just recently gotten around to documenting things that took place in December (my birthday, the DRC trials, etc.). Better late than never, right?

Christmas Day 2012 (our first Christmas as a married couple!) was spent with my family in my hometown in Indiana. Because all of my immediate family met Gabriel before or during his baptism weekend (October 2013) and Michael's family had yet to meet him (that's what happens when your family is in the Midwest and you move to South Florida right before the baby is born), we decided that Christmas 2013 "belonged" to Michael's family, if you will. Plus, we were able to see a few of my family members for Thanksgiving and then in December due to the DRC trials. So when Christmastime rolled around, off to Ohio to see Michael's family we went!

Gabriel was about 4.5 months old when we boarded his first airplane. Thankfully, he did wonderfully on his first flight and alright on the second (we had a brief layover in Charlotte). There were a few more tears shed on the second flight and our poor little guy just wanted to be done traveling, but overall things went pretty smoothly.

For five days (December 22nd-27th) we had lots of fun introducing Gabriel to all of his daddy's side of the family. And when I say "all" I seriously mean all - except for one of Michael's cousins and one aunt and uncle. Everyone else was there at his parents' house or at the big family dinner on Christmas day. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

Gabriel with his grandma

First, we had Christmas Eve! Michael's family isn't Catholic (he converted while we were engaged) which meant we were the only ones headed to church to ring in our Lord's birthday. We decided to go to the vigil Mass at a nearby church (I love love love Midnight Mass, but I wasn't foolish enough to think my love of it would somehow override Gabriel's need for an earlier Mass time...so earlier in the evening it was). The weather was cold (with snow on the ground!), the church was warm, and our son was sporting a brand-new sweater vest we had gotten just for the occasion. The reality of Advent, Christmas, and the changing liturgical seasons finally came alive for us - something I think us Mid-westerners struggled with in a place where liturgy changed but seasons did not. #FloridaWasConfusing

The next day we all headed over to Michael's Chinese grandmother's house for a big Christmas meal. There Gabriel met the rest of Michael's extended family and was showered with generous gifts. And, per usual, there was a LOT of seafood. I was just thankful that this year I was able to stomach some of it (unlike when we all got together for this meal in late December 2012 and I was pregnant. That year Michael and I had to duck out after he ate so we could hunt down some food I could stomach - which happened to come in the form of Burger King's chicken tenders, by the way).

Christmas dinner with Michael's family

All in all our visit to the Midwest was pretty much one big doting-on-Gabriel visit. After all, he is the very first baby of his generation in my husband's family. Everyone loved him and it was definitely fun watching everyone interact with him. Some of my favorite photo highlights include him being held by his Korean and Chinese great-grandmothers. :) When we saw some of my family for Thanksgiving, I managed to get photos of him with each of my grandmothers...so these two photos made my collection complete. You'd better believe I'm going to frame the pictures I have of him with each of his 4 great-grandmothers and hang them in his room - because how many people get to meet all 4 of their great-grandmothers?! What a blessing. If you recall, one of my grandmothers passed away recently (a couple of months after meeting Gabriel), so these are memories that I truly cherish.

Look at the joy on their faces!
She left the dinner table early to go hold him - which I am told has NEVER
happened before. Usually she remains at the table until everyone is done.

The day after Christmas we also managed to see some of Michael's hometown friends (including two of our groomsmen!). That night we had fun with some married friends at their house and the women played with the children while the men drank beer in the basement and/or kitchen. It was pretty much the epitome of a gender stereotype, but we all had lots of fun. Not to mention, it was adorable watching our friends' son interact with Gabriel and vice versa. Introducing little children to one another and watching how they interact is one of my new, favorite things since becoming a mom. ;)

As it is with all good journeys, we had loads of fun but were happy to return to our "normal" way of life when our trip came to an end. While Michael's family showered us with presents for Gabriel (most of which we had to leave in Ohio until we can reclaim them at a later date), we had left the rest of our gifts unopened back in Florida. It was fun to return to all of the presents from my side of the family and have our own, little Christmas celebration back in our home. We even had our own, tiny Christmas tree for the first time as a married couple!


Overall it was a nice holiday filled with family memories - and I can't wait to see where we'll all be come Christmas 2014!

"When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs?"
-G.K. Chesterton

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