christmas traditions

I'm the first to admit that I am a bit holiday-obsessed.  Holiday-season is my favorite time of year.  Since I met Ted, this season has stretched to start as early as October 8th (our anniversary) instead of October 31st.  Anniversary, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentine's Day, my birthday, Easter.  Yep--half of the year, I'm pretty stoked on holidays, and I like it that way.  My favorite thing about holidays are the traditions.  Christmas has the most traditions, thus making it my #1 holiday.

Friends Christmas Brunch
Since 2009, my friends and I have had an annual brunch, hosted by me and Erin.  The past two years we've had it at Erin's lovely home she shares with her sister.  (Aren't we grown-up or what?)  After last year's latke success (I made them for the first time after being inspired by Ted's), we have kept the new tradition alive this year.  I was especially proud of my fancy spinach & feta latkes.  It is such a lovely time catching up with old friends.  I feel very lucky we can all get together during the holidays.

Christmas Eve
We go to mass at our church or my grandma's church, depending on the year.  This year we went to our little pink church (yeah, it's pink).  Afterwards we head over to my aunt's house to have a delicious meal, complete with homemade eggnog and a big rice-crispie wreath studded with M&M's.  We do a white elephant game with $10 gift cards, which is always funny.  This year I had to choose first, which is the worst number, but I ended up with Starbucks, so all is well.  When we open the presents, the kids all open one at the same time, and the adults open their secret santa gifts.  This year my relatives were super sweet and generous and gave me pounds for my upcoming London adventure.  I'm so grateful for their support in everything I do, especially when I'm the oddball in the family who went out-of-state for college and am now going abroad for five months.

Christmas Day
When my dad has to work on Christmas day, we wake up super early to open presents so he can leave for work around 7 or so.  Later in the day we go visit him at the fire station, where A Christmas Story is on loop.  Luckily, this year we had him all day!  Once he got home from work around 8, we opened presents and stockings.  Everyone got what they wanted.  Me--lots of stuff for London (including a new camera!), cute new additions to my room, and an REI giftcard (Portland has officially had an influence on me, because this was very exciting).  Kendal--One Direction tickets.  Enough said.  Izzy--a new bed.  My parents--they didn't get much for each other this year because they're coming to visit me in London, but they did love the personalized cutting board I gave them!

It was weird this year, because due to my stressful semester and not arriving home until two days before Christmas, I didn't make any of my gifts this year.  It's probably the first year I've done this.  However, I still had just as much fun finding the perfect gifts that showed my family how appreciative I am of their love and support.  I also enjoyed being able to support independent artists during the holiday season.

For Christmas brunch, we usually have quiche or blueberry french toast.  This year was the french toast with some chicken sausages.  We always have almond champagne and sparkling cider.  Throughout the day, I also have a good time breaking into the multiple homemade treats lying around from my mom's students.  There's also the tamales my mom orders from a local lady each year...

And then we watch Christmas movies in our pjs.  All day.  Throw in a nap or two, and you have the perfect Christmas day.
Second Christmas
The Hatos family never celebrates Christmas on the right day, and we are proud of it.  We divide all the gifts and then take turns opening our gifts.  Kendal and I alternate, because we are the kiddos.  I got so many lovely gifts, including more things to bring along to London, some traveling money, and cute accessories (like the cookie cutter necklace and red "London Calling" bangle seen above).  We end the epic gift-opening with find-the-pickle-ornament and an elf scavenger hunt!  Another hunt that happens is for the nativity scene's baby Jesus.  Every year, my dad hides it for my grandma to find.  Add in a delicious brunch spread out on matching Christmas Waechtersbach dishes complete with egg casserole, grits, cinnamon rolls, and pralines, and you have one magical day.  A funny thing happened this year was that my grandma bought this beautiful Christmas tree butter and when we went to go eat, it was slouching over, sadly melting in the Arizona sun streaming through the window.  That's a desert Christmas for you!

Other traditions we have during the holidays:  Christmas dress shopping (mine got good use at the theater Christmas party, Ted's and my Christmas date, The Nutcracker, Christmas brunch, and Christmas Eve) and The Nutcracker.

It was a beautiful Christmas.  I feel so fortunate to have such loving family and friends who make the holidays so special.  The holidays are just as magical as they were when I was a little one--maybe even more magical, because I get to start my own traditions with my friends and Ted.  Hope you had just as lovely a time and I wish you and yours a Happy New Year!

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