Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas / New Year's recap

Frank and I love living close to my family, but we wanted to have our own Christmas celebration too, "just us." We found the perfect compromise by joining my family for Christmas Eve dinner—"Nochebuena" as we Hispanics call it—and Christmas afternoon, but having the morning to ourselves.

Of course my mom had to add stockings for her two new sons-in-law to the yearly line-up:

We all teased her about how Matt's and Frank's stockings are bigger than the rest of ours. Clearly they must be her favorite children. ;)

I spent the day before Christmas making sugar cookies in our teeny kitchen. Have I told you guys about the kitchen? This is our counter ... no seriously, this is our entire kitchen counter:

We end up using the kitchen table, the stovetop, and the little ledge in front of the sink as counter space quite a lot. Now the first thing I notice at friends' houses is how much counter space they have. I find myself ooh-ing and ah-ing if they have more than 2 feet. But secretly I don't mind—like the ugly rug and bad vacuum, it's just one of those funny newlywed inconveniences (and for the record, Frank and I finally got a new vacuum last month! Hurray!).

After a Cuban feast at my mom's house, Frank and I ventured back into the city for 10:30 pm Mass at our parish (the closest thing they had to midnight Mass). The church couldn't have looked more stunning:

There were carols and organ music before the service, and we loved it so much. I was so glad we decided to come "home" for Mass at our own church.

Christmas morning started off great, with a fine breakfast made by Frank and a lot of happiness as we exchanged gifts. But after opening gifts, Frank got a little sad and mopey. Finally he admitted he missed his family and their annual Christmas traditions—it was his very first Christmas away from home. He didn't expect to feel homesick, but he was, and it hit him hard. I promised him that next year we can go to New Jersey for Christmas if he likes.

Two days after Christmas, Frank and I loaded up our car for an epic cross-country road trip to his parents' house in New Jersey. Even though we were ostensibly there for New Year's, it really felt like a continuation of Christmas, what with exchanging gifts and meeting relatives and a big family party on New Year's Eve.

My favorite sister-in-law!
My dear friends Serena and Molly came to my in-laws' party on New Year's Eve. It did my heart so much good to see them. Seriously, can you girls move to Chicago so we can hang out every weekend?

I also met a bunch of Frank's relatives and childhood friends who weren't able to make it to our wedding. They were all so nice, and it was fun matching up faces with the stories I'd heard about them. And I got to see Frank's lovely childhood friend Catherine who sang at our wedding (hi Catherine!), and meet her parents and her boyfriend Deon! It was a really good New Year's Eve.

Besides partying with the relatives and my friends, we visited Frank's siblings at their jobs (Ethan works at Old Navy and Jenna at Starbucks)...

Jenna surprises me with amazing coffee concoctions when I visit her at work, and for this I shall love her forever.

We went to Mass Wednesday at the nice parish near Frank's parents' house and were awed to discover the gingerbread house of the century hanging out in the back of the church:

Yes, that is the Vatican in edible form.

I also concluded after several days that my mother-in-law's house is actually a Pinterest board. It's perfectly decorated and somehow always clean.

The house is a restored 1700s farmhouse, where it's believed Abraham Lincoln once spent the night. This was the best my phone camera could do in the dark. Just imagine the darling little Christmas wreaths hanging on red ribbons from every window, and the cozy feeling of candlelight welcoming you as you drive up:

I had fun searching on their Christmas tree for Frank's "baby's first Christmas" ornament, and counting all the ornaments that have something to do with the Philadelphia Eagles (although actually I lost count):

There are the cutest little carolers above the fireplace, and my father-in-law's antique flintlock rifle—I teased him that the real reason he keeps it there is for when Jenna brings boys home:

I wish I'd taken more photos—I didn't get pictures of the gorgeous Christmas village in the dining room, or the hand-sewn Christmas stockings, or the mini-tree with just Starbucks ornaments. I'm telling you, it's straight out of Pinterest.

We were delayed leaving New Jersey because of "Winter Storm Hercules" so we drove halfway on Friday, spent the night in Akron, OH, and arrived Saturday evening to this beautiful sight at my parents' house:

It's really darn cold around here (in case you haven't heard!) but we sure are glad to be back. Happy 2014!


  1. Wow, that is the smallest kitchen counter I have ever seen! I'm glad you had a great Christmas. :)
    p.s. I am meeting with our pastor to talk about RCIA tomorrow. *eek!*

  2. Haha loved the little shout out there! It was great to see you guys. Deon loved you by the way he thought you were awesome and my parents did too. So glad you got to finally meet them.

    Also I am still amazed over the years at how Pinteresty and clean that home is haha. I love that you thought the same thing! Happy 2014!