Christmas Wrap-Up

We’ve had quite the few busy days this weekend, but we had a great Christmas, so I can’t complain!

We kicked off the holiday weekend by going to my parents house on Christmas Eve to exchange gifts and hang out.  We ordered pizza, watched 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic, and eventually got around to opening stuff.

Dad playing Santa!

Christmas pajamas!

After we left my parents house, we headed home for bed, but, I was able to convince Chris to open the rest of our gifts at the house that night.  My family and I began opening gifts on Christmas eve sometime after I graduated from high school, but Chris has always stuck to Christmas day.  It was fun to come home and tear into everything, but I’m not sure Chris is convinced we’ll keep the Christmas Eve tradition of opening gifts alive.  It was fun this year, but we’ll see what happens in future years.  A few snapshots of Christmas at our house:

I love how Chris addresses packages. Haha.

<3

Chris' clue that he was getting a mini kegerator.

On Christmas day, we slept in (if you consider 8am sleeping in), got up, made cinnamon rolls, and just vegged.  We headed over to my parents house around 3pm and had a delicious Christmas dinner with some of my extended family, as well as Linds/Kev and Kev’s parents.  We ate, played games and called it a night – it was really relaxed, low key, and fun.  I totally didn’t take any good pictures, but I promise it was fun.

My Christmas gifts looked like this this year – Huzby and family did a great job!

1. Moroccan Toms 2. Kiehls Clay Face Wash 3. Fit Bit 4. Custom Chevron Stationary 5. Christmas Tree Pandora Charm 6. Japanese Cherry Blossom Set

7. Kiehls SPF 15 Face Lotion 8. Crate and Barrel Lamps 9. Paper Plane Necklace 10. Garnet Pandora Charm 11. Target Gift Card 12. Woven Natural Stripe Toms

13. Canon Elph Camera 14. Michael Kors Watch 15. Jewelry Armoire

Happy, happy holidays!!!

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Holiday Traditions

Chris and I have naturally started traditions when it comes to the holidays, even before we got married.  I love having something that is ours that we have created as a family, and I can’t wait to build more traditions when we eventually expand our family.

The National Christmas Tree!  I had never visited the tree until we spontaneously decided to go for a date shortly after we started dating, and now, three years later, it’s something I look forward to every year.

Wreaths Across America!  Even though I’ve participated in Wreaths Across America for three years, this year was the first year Chris could participate, so I’d really like to continue that!

Holiday Pajamas:  Growing up, my one gift on Christmas Eve was always holiday pajamas, and I have loved this tradition for as long as I can remember.  This one is definitely staying with us and our children which we’ll have one day.

…and we open one gift on Christmas eve:  This goes along with the holiday pajamas, but since my parents still get them for us, we get an extra gift to open from each other as a warm up for Christmas morning.

Sometimes, someone gets realllllly excited.

This year, Christmas has seemed extra special to me since it’s our first one as a married couple.  Cheesy, right?  Welp, it is what it is!  I’ve been all aboard the holiday train and have really wanted to start traditions this year which has been fun.  So, what’s new you might ask?

We did the holiday concert at DAR which is held every year, and I’d love to do that annually! 

We put our tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving and I’ve loved having it up the entire month of December.

…and we did the Christmas lights at the National Zoo!

So what’s missing from my list of holiday traditions that we haven’t done?

1.  Making a gingerbread house

2.  Elf on the Shelf (I suppose we need a kid for that!)

Not too shabby!  Any other holiday traditions I’m missing out on?!

Now, on to a holiday tradition survey:

1. Eggnog or Hot Chocolate?  I like both, but I especially like eggnog
2. Does Santa wrap presents or leave them under the tree?  Santa and his elves wrap everything.
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?  We got super colorful LED lights for the tree this year and I love them.
4. Do you hang mistletoe?  We don’t, but we should.
5. When do you hang your decorations up?  The weekend after Thanksgiving.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (besides dessert)?  Probably turkey or mashed potatoes.
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child?  I just remember being soooooo excited on Christmas Eve, and I loved that feeling of waking up on Christmas day knowing it had finally arrived.  When I was five years old, I asked my mom point-blank if Santa existed and she refused to lie to me, so I sucked the fun out of that pretty early on, but it didn’t ruin anything.  My parents had a rule that I couldn’t get out of bed until 7am and wake them up for presents, so I would wake up, lay in bed and just stare at the clock until it hit 7am.  Then, I’d  bolt to their room where my mom would take her time getting her robe on, make coffee cake and coffee and somewhere around 8am, we’d finally get to the opening of gifts…7am my ass!
8. What is on your Christmas wish list?  This year I really want a specific pair of Toms, the entire series of Friends on DVD, maybe a new camera, and a watch, but those are really the only “specific” wishes I have.
9. Do you open any gifts on Christmas Eve?   Christmas pajamas from my parents, and one gift each from under the tree.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?  We definitely don’t have a theme.  This year we went with red and gold with some other random ornaments thrown in.  We do colorful lights but no garland or tinsel.  We also have a cute tree skirt!
11. Snow.  Love it or dread it?   I love it for the first day or so, then I’m completely over it.  I enjoy it on the weekends if I have time to be snowed in, but when I have to venture out into it, I can’t stand it.
12. Real tree of fake tree?   I like both.  I hope one year we can trek out to a tree farm and pick out our own, but for the majority of my life, I’ve had a fake tree.  I really do like both, but the clean up and maintenance of a real tree is a big turn off.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?  I really can’t name one specific gift that was the end all be all of Christmas gifts.  I remember going nuts over Cabbage Patch kids and Pound Puppies as a kid, but as I’ve gotten older, kindles and cameras have been big highlights with me.
14.  What is the most important thing about Christmas for you?  Spending time with family, laughing and building new traditions.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?  Pumpkin pie!
16. What is your favorite tradition?  I think visiting the National Christmas Tree.   Honestly, there isn’t much to do other than just look at it, but there’s something about being there with other people who want to be festive that makes it really fun.
17. What tops your tree?  A gold sparkly star.  I’m pretty sure it’s temporary because Chris wants one that lights up.
18. Do you prefer giving or receiving?  Giving gifts is my favorite!!
19. What is your favorite Christmas song?  Santa Baby

20. Candy Canes, yuck or yum?  Ick.
21. Favorite Christmas Movie?  Mixed Nuts
22. What do you leave for Santa?  A whole lotta nothing.
23. Do you have a Christmas morning tradition?  Cinnamon rolls and opening gifts before spending time with our families.
24. Do you prefer to shop online or at the mall?  I couldn’t tell you the last time I did any shopping at the mall for the holidays.  With all of the free shipping offers and promo codes I can find online, it’s absolutely the way to go for me.
25. Christmas letter, or Christmas card?  We did a Christmas photo card this year.  I loved sending them, and I loved receiving them!
SIX MORE DAYS TIL CHRISTMAS!!!

Wreaths, Holiday Festival and a National Christmas Tree

So, the time of year of traditions has arrived, and we welcomed the season in a big way yesterday.  As I previously mentioned, we started our Saturday morning off bright and early and headed down to Arlington to do the annual wreath laying.  This year, we brought my sister/brother in law, Linds and Kevin, so it was great to have more people!  We also had my uncle Mike’s side of the family join us, so we were quite the crowd.

We all gathered at Ft. Myer and made our way into the cemetery on foot where we found the first 18-wheeler filled with wreaths.  The driver who had driven the truck all the way from Maine was incredibly nice, and my aunt got to talking with him and we learned that he lost his son who was serving in Iraq in 2006.  He said it was an honor to be able to drive a truck in memory of his son and it was incredible to hear him talk with such proudness.  I remembered the date he said his son died (for some reason,the way he said it stuck with me “4/06 of 2006”) so I looked him up when I got home to find out his story.  After reading how young he was and how he died, it made the wreath laying all the more important and I’m so glad we participated.

The gang!

Helicopter flyover.

Kevin and dad handing out wreaths.

Aunt Brenda laying a wreath.

Lindsay and a wreath.

Once we finished our section, we split off from the big group and made our way throughout the cemetary to lay wreaths on my friends dads grave and my dads friends grave.  We had a nice walk, and it was nice to see all of the other volunteers out and about paying their respects.  Here was our path:

We took this picture at stop #2:

Linds, Dad, me, Chris and Kev honoring David Trundy.

…and this picture from stop #3:

Dad remembering Kip Taylor.

The wreaths were a great way to start the morning, especially since we had a holiday concert later in the night to look forward to.

My uncle hosted “Pershings Own Holiday Festival” at D.A.R Constitution Hall last night and it was awesome!  We were invited to a reception before the show which was held adjacent to the old concert hall (which is now a beautiful library) and it was super fun.  The show was great and defintely got everyone into the holiday spirit.

Pretty architechture! Those are the old boxes from the old concert hall which is now the library.

Fam in the library.

Santa!

After the awesomely festive show, we decided to walk over to the National Christmas Tree for our 3rd annual Christmas date.  :)   This time, we brought Linds and Kev which made it even more fun.  The tree is new this year which was…interesting.

In February of this year, the tree was damaged and was beyond repair (it had been there since 1978), so they decided to replace it with a smaller (24 foot) tree which will grow as it ages.  I’m not going to lie, it looks kind of sad.  The top is all kinds of a mess and they even had to fix the lights to attempt to give it a pretty effect.  Hopefully in the coming years it will fill out and become really pretty.  Either way, we had fun checking it out and taking pictures.

White House from the tree.

3rd annual tree picture. :) Love this tradition!

Love this.

I loved this weekend.  It was so fun and festive and filled with family, and it was just the best.  We had such a great time that we’re now planning on visiting the Christmas Lights at the National Zoo next weekend!  The fun just continues – happy holidays!!

Tis the season,…

Tis the season, y’all!

I spent two hours of my day today racing around the county in the pouring rain on the hunt for perfect Christmas gifts for three children my office “adopted” for the holidays.  Everyone in my department pooled their money together to create a Christmas for the kids and I’d say we were pretty successful.  I was flying solo in the gift buying so that was a challenge (especially since I don’t really know what 11, 12 and 14 year-old kids like), but, when all was said and done, I felt really good about the whole experience. 

Speaking of giving back – “Wreaths Across America” is this Saturday!  It’s the third annual “Brinnington” tradition (Brown/Linnington since my dad, Aunt Brenda and I have done it all three years) and I’m really looking forward to it.  This year, we’ve got a lot more family coming, including my Aunt Brenda’s husbands side of the family, my cousins, and my brother and sister in law.  Even Chris is going to make it this year, so I’m psyched.  In years past, the program has designated specific sections to lay wreaths (last year was section 60), but the goal this year is to lay a wreath on every single grave which is a monumnental task considering there are a staggering 300,000 graves. 

My goal this year is to enjoy the experience with the family, but also to remember those who fought for our country and really appreciate their sacrifice.  I’m not sure how many wreaths I’ll get to lay this year (last year there were so many volunteers that we could only do one wreath, but that was only one section), and I’m undecided if I’ll search for and contact the family of the person whose wreath I lay. 

We are going to specifically seek out Kip Taylor and one of my best friend, Liz’s dads graves to lay wreaths, and we’ll see what else we can do after that.   If I am able to lay a wreath on a strangers grave, I just might have to search them and reach out to their family like I did last year.

I’m sure I’ll have an entire recap after this weekend – in the meantime, check out our pictures from the past two years!

Newlywed Ornaments!

I recently read on a blog that I follow regularly that there is a lovely German custom for newlyweds involving Christmas ornaments.  Can I tell you how much I am loving this idea and want to jump on it asap?!

According to the old Germany tradition, the tree of a newlywed couple should include these twelve ornaments to insure blessing and happienss for their life together. 

1.  An Angel – Guidance in the Home

2.  A Rose – Beauty and Affection

 

3.  A Rabbit – Hope and Faith

4.  A Teapot – Hospitality

5.  A Pinecone – Motherhood and Fruitfulness

6.  A Santa – Unselfishness and Goodwill

7.  A House – Shelter and Protection

8.  A Fruit Basket – Generosity

9.  A Bird – Happiness and Joy

10.  A Flower Basket – Good Wishes

 

13.  A Heart – True Love

12.  A Fish – Christs Blessing