I had my first Christmas in college with my college boyfriend's family. We broke up the next week (after being together for 4+ years, so you can imagine how that went).
Last year Charlie and I had a small Christmas together. It was secular and based on being together and presents, which is what I"m told a large amount of Americans do to celebrate Christmas anyway, so I was okay with it, being Jewish and all!
This year, Charlie left for his deployment on the 18th, and I was on the east coast, so I decided to stop over in Alabama and Kentucky for a few days to spend with his family. Even though I wasn't there on Christmas (i was in Arizona for a Jewish Educator's conference, ha!), we opened presents together and it was awesome.
I flew into Alabama and Sarah picked me up. I LOVE spending time with her, she's truly become an older sister to me, who gives me advice etc. Her hubbie Hunter was on a short business trip, so I got to have her and Mister Will all to myself.
He was a little tired and shy at first. And don't worry, we were stopped for some take out, not driving that way!
Will is probably thinking "Aunt Avigail, I kind of remember you, give me a moment to warm up to you again"
By the next morning, I snuck him into my bed and got these sorts of smiles - you should have heard the laughs!
Sarah went to work that morning, and since Hunter was still on his business trip, I had a car to myself. She encouraged me to drive to Auburn (2 hour drive) to visit Uncle Jim and Aunt Jill and the kids for the day. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being with them. Uncle Jim is Charlie's youngest Uncle, who he still thinks of as being 29 years old. He is big and tall with a heart and sense of humor to match. I don't want a year to go by without seeing this Perry family!
When i asked him to snap a pic of me and my new cousins, I got this:
Followed by these:
Just the girls:
And then all the kids:
I somehow didn't snap one of Aunt Jill. Sad. Guess we'll just have to have another visit soon.
When I left after dinner, they all stood outside the door waving and yelling "We love you!". I know this is such a little thing, but I just about burst into happy tears from all the love (I didn't, but when I thought/wrote about it now I almost did!).
Before going back to Sarah and Hunter's house in Birmingham, I had to stop at CVS to pick up a prescription. Actually let me back this up a bit. Earlier that day, before heading to the Perry's, I stopped at Walgreens for a prescription. Lo and behold, they doesn't accept tricare. Um, what? Really? One of the two largest pharmacies (I think! Haha) doesn't work with the military's insurance? How is this not more public?
Anyway, I asked the guy to call it in to CVS for me, making sure the pharmacy stayed open late, since I knew I'd be driving back from Auburn. In Boston, Jason (my sister's amazing boyfriend) gladly told me and Charlie that you could officially download google maps to your iPhone again, instead of apple maps. However, since I was driving and using Siri for my directions, it defaulted to Apple Maps. Well, at around 11 or 12 at night, I arrived here:
That doesn't look like CVS to me, even in the midst of wonderful southern hospitality!
Frustrated, I found a way to get there with google maps (instead of apple maps), and when I got there, the guy from Wallgreens hadn't called it in!!! I know that this isn't a real life problem, or you may call it a "first world problem" but BOY was I frustrated!
The next morning we left at the ass-crack of dawn to go to KY. I slept in the car while Sarah and Hunter chauffeured me and Mister Will :-)
In Kentucky, we stayed at "Grandy's" house, which is on his farm, and adorable. Also visiting were Buddy (charlie's brother) and Carol and their kids. I had never met their kids and fell in love instantly! Especially when Sarah Grace let me braid her hair in all sorts of different ways! What I loved most was how these little kids were so excited to babysit and hang out with their cousin!
Jonathan, Buddy and Carol's Youngest, wasn't sleeping over at Grandy's, and so we had to get him bundled up and warm for the ride back. Would ya look at this combination of clothes?
Sarah zipping him up:
Good night hugs from Auny Sissy (whose recipes will be highlighted in later posts)
Over the next few days we just hung out with family and had fun. Buddy found me this gem:
Sarah Grace let me do her hair some more:
But most importantly, we got prepared for some special nuptials. On Thanksgiving, Paula, Charlie's mom, called us and told us she was getting married over Christmas! How amazing that I was already planning on spending that time there with them!
Hunter and I ventured to (this is literally the name:) Tinytown, TN, to pick up a small wedding cake for them. Of course we got lost but we had a great time, I love that I got along with him since Sarah is so special to me!
Here's the cake all set up:
When we got back Sarah had been working up a storm to get the house decorated, and it looked amazing. Here she is with some of the flowers:
She blogged about the wedding in greater detail here.
Dan, or "grandan" as the grandkids called him, has been in Paula's life since they were little kids! They make each other so happy and I am beyond thrilled for Paula and the happiness she has found. One of the most touching things was that Paula wanted to use some of the blessings that I interpreted from the sheva brachot at my wedding. Specifically, she wanted Sarah to read the one she read at our wedding, Buddy to read the one they read, and me to read the one she read. I absolutely love how this carried through from our Jewish Ceremony to their Christian ceremony!
Here is Dan ready for his bride in the front porch of Grandy's house:
All the family (except the bride and groom) on Grandy's porch
Kiss under the mistletoe!
One of my favorite things about Sarah and Hunter is that every time I've spent time with them, they have this special cuddle time in a love seat. I love seeing her sitting in his lap and watch them interact, they are so in love! Here is the should be pro-photographer checking her 500+ pictures during their special hubby/wife time:
And of course while they were sneaking some hubby/wife time I tried to sneak as much baby time as I could:
That evening we opened Christmas presents, since Sarah and Hunter and myself were leaving on the 23rd. I loved that they put a cowboy hat on their tree! How southernly authentic!
I loved the gifts that I received SO much (including a camera strap cover Sarah made for me with her sewing machine after I mentioned how much I loved hers!). More specifically, I loved GIVING gifts! I know it sounds lame and cliche, but I get so excited when I figure out exactly what to get someone.
Sarah used her sewing machine to make the "babies" of the family these matching PJs:
Can' get any cuter!!! And you shoulda seen the near dozen adults acting like monkeys behind the camera to get those smiles!
Some of the food served over the weekend that I just loved (albeit, not the best for my waistline) was:
-sausage balls (ummmmm, have any born and raised westerners heard of these? SO YUMMY!
-cucumber dip (I have a "healthy" version sitting in my fridge right now!)
-Aunt sissy's crazy bread (recipe coming when I make it and snap pictures)
-Jam cake with brown sugar frosting
I want it all! Speaking of recipes, I made a yummy french onion chicken last night but didn't snap pictures. I'll snap one of the leftovers and post the recipe.
Good to be back, Y'all!!!