Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas with Family in Massachusetts

This year we spent Christmas in Massachusetts, which is where Mark and I grew up. This was the first time in 19 years that we have travelled north in December, and we were rewarded with a blanket of fresh snow upon our arrival.

Grammy & Grampa's house

Jason couldn't wait to get outside to play in the snow... something we don't get a lot of in NC!

Alex flew from TX to MA, so the whole family was together... something that circumstances seemed to be working against for a little while. First, Alex's leave got messed up at the last minute, and he was scheduled to work over the holiday week! He was able to find someone to cover duty for him for a few days, so we had 5 days together instead of the 2 weeks we had been looking forward to. Then our van broke down 4 days before we were supposed to leave for the 700 mile trip up the East Coast! Of course, after being towed to the garage and sitting for the weekend, the van started right up for the mechanic on Monday morning, and he couldn't find anything wrong! Ummm, I don't think so, not when we are travelling 700 miles each way! So we scurried to rent a vehicle that would fit the 6 of us ~ and apparently rented the last mini van available in the whole city of Raleigh.The weather looked iffy for a bit, but everything worked out fine and we had clear weather all the way up, and back again today too. THANK YOU to those of you who prayed for us and this trip! We had a wonderful time visiting grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Grammy & Grampa - my parents

Christmas Eve was the annual family Christmas party, which this year was held at my sister and brother-in-law's cafe in Putnam, CT. The cafe closed at 3:00, and we had the entire facility to ourselves. It was perfect!

Victoria Station Cafe

fresh pastries are baked on the premises!

Isak and Eric during a quiet moment...obviously plotting something...

My dad is honorary "executive chef" at the cafe, and my cousin Bruce was his assistant for the party!

A hot mocha is even more special when it is made for family!

Everyone brought components of the menu, which is fairly constant from year to year, but with a few new twists from time to time. It is loosely based on the Italian Christmas Eve tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes :
  • shrimp cocktail
  • cheese & crackers
  • vegetables & dip
  • spaghetti w/ tuna sauce
  • 7-fish soup
  • baccala ( fried cod )
  • gnocchi
  • bread
  • salad
  • pastries
The younger children had drawn names for exchanging gifts, and the teens and adults enjoyed a Yankee Gift Swap. Everyone brought a $10 gift which was placed under the tree. Then we drew numbers. Number one got to select and open a gift from the pile. Then Number 2 selected a gift. After opening it, he could decide whether to keep it or trade with Number one. After Number three opened his gift, he had to decide whether to keep it or trade with either #1 OR #2. And so on. It was a lot of fun.

Jason loved his new Red Sox cap!

Afterwards, it was back to Grammy & Grampa's house, where the seven of us and the four members of my sister's family sprawled out in guest beds, pull-out couches, air mattresses, and recliners! Oh, the fun of family gatherings!

Christmas morning found the whole clan gathered around the Christmas tree, opening gifts.

my nieces, Sabrina and Adriana

Later that afternoon, it was off the visit the "other cousins" - Mark's sister and her family, who were getting ready to head off to warmer places for Christmas vacation!

"Rock Band Cousins"

We also got to spend one evening with Mark's mother
, who also lives nearby. It is nice when almost all the relatives live near each other!

On Saturday there was a party, again at the Cafe, with relatives from my mother's side of the family.
This was a smaller gathering, and it was disappointing that so many people couldn't make it, but we enjoyed getting reacquainted with those who did come.

cousins - Amanda and Sabrina

Auntie Susie, Auntie Ginger, and Mom


Christina Donatelli-Anderson said...

It was sooooo nice having you all "Home" for Christmas! A VERY special Christmas in deed. Love all the pictures! Let's do it again next year!

GrammaJelly said...

This was a wonderful Christmas! Love having you all here, only wish last son could have joined us, but then he may have had to sleep in the barn. Thank you all for making the journey and making our Christmas so special. Love you all!

Sylvia Goode Basham said...

OK...I've decided my next house will look like the Victoria Cafe!