Yes, I am behind, what else is new? :P
For Christmas this year we got to drive up to New Jersey to see my extended family for the first time since my best friend's wedding back in May of 2014. I was super excited to say the least! I hate going so long without seeing my family, and even though I didn't get to see everyone this time around, I did get most people, which is a plus.
The Tuesday before Christmas we drove 2 and a half hours to my parents' house and spent the night before leaving early Wednesday to continue the drive to New Jersey. I got kicked out of my car and Stefan and Ryan drove together where I rode in the van with my parents. I see how it is boys! It took us about 8 hours with a long stop for lunch but we finally got to New Jersey!
My uncle Dave was visiting from Florida and he had some home made chili and sourdough bread bowls waiting for us and many of my aunts and uncles and cousins came over, so we got family right away. It was so wonderful to see everyone it just made my heart happy. One of the big things about going to New Jersey for me is the food!
I have to get a taylor ham egg and cheese sandwich on a roll, it is a breakfast must that my mom went out and got for everyone the first morning. We also have to order pizza at least once, because lets face it, Jersey pizza is the absolute best! We had that as our last meal when we left. Then the bottom two above are our Christmas Eve and Day meals, which are always fantastic. Since we are Western European (Polish) we tend to do a meat free Christmas Eve with pierogies, fried fish and mushroom soup. Christmas Day we go crazy with ham, smoked turkey, lasagna, beef wellington, more pierogies and tons and tons of cookies. So many cookies! Ah the food. So thankful for such deliciousness!
Another big highlight for us was finally being able to meet our niece Adrianna. She was born on the 4th of July to my oldest half brother Sean and we finally got to visit and spend some time with her. She is definitely a little firecracker, like her fitting nickname suggests! I loved being able to snuggle her and spend time with her and my brothers and their family.
My heart was also happy to spend Christmas Eve mass at my home church that I grew up in. This is the church I attended from the time I was in about second grade on. It is the church I was a lector (reader) in, received my first communion, confirmation, and got married in. I have lived many places over the past ten years since I left home and none have had a church that compares to this one. I hope someday I find one that will, but until then when I return it is like coming home. Everyone still knows us and treats us like family and it is just a tremendous blessing. It felt like a second reunion being there.
My best friend Sam met us at Mass and then all of us went to our good friend of the family's house afterwards to catch up. We were there until almost 3am on Christmas Eve! My parents ducked out around 2:30am and us "kids" followed not too far behind afterwards. We still had a long drive back to my grandparents' house after that. Needless to say Christmas Day we slept in a bit before the rest of our family descended on us for dinner.
When my extended family gets together every room looks like this. People are setting up and stealing food in the kitchen, talking in the dining room, and watching TV in the living room. Everywhere you turn someone is there and you bump in to a lot of people and it becomes a hundred degrees in the house but it is wonderful. It was a very balmy Christmas in New Jersey, in the 70s most of our visit and the 50s maybe when we left, so the windows were wide open the entire time! All the people tend to drive my husband nuts but he loves everyone so he tolerates being crowded for me!
I was flipping through some old albums and I found this picture of my Poppy (second from the right) from 1928, when we was about six years old. My Poppy was one of thirteen children, but only Ethel, Emil, and Grace are in this picture with hum. For some reason I just loved this picture and had to take a snapshot of it to have.
I was a little concerned on how the Dup would do with so many people, but she was utterly fabulous. She only almost jumped on Poppy's visiting nurse once and my cousin's aunt another time. Oops. But everyone basically loves dogs in my family so she got a ton of snuggles and treats and food sneaked her way. She was very unhappy with us when we returned home. One, she hates the car and sticking her in there for ten hours made her miserable, and two she missed all the attention she got for three days straight! Rylie literally spent all day Sunday hiding from us and refusing any treats we offered her.
As always, the trip was entirely too short. Ryan and I had to leave Saturday to get back to North Carolina. We both had work Monday and knew we'd need Sunday to get stuff done. I hate saying goodbye to my grandparents, it always breaks my heart, and I sobbed as Ryan and I got into the car. And continued to sob most of the way down the New Jersey turnpike. It was a rough, long drive back. We left around 3pm and drove through rain on and off and didn't get home until 1:30 in the morning. We stopped briefly for food and gas but had to take a lot of smaller highways as the 95 area and cities were just a mess.
So it was a really terrific trip and I am so happy we were able to go and spend time with my family. It truly was a wonderful Christmas because of that. Hopefully not so much time will pass before we can get up there again.
I hope you and your families had a great holiday season.