Thursday, January 3, 2013

I gave you fair warning.

Christmas Recap: Let's do this thing!

I'm somewhat of a Christmas Nut.  It is my absolute favorite time of year, and even with all the added stress that comes with being an actual adult during the holiday season, it's almost impossible for me to get all Grinchy for more than a moment between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  I never tire of gazing at the lights on my tree or hearing {all but a few} carols piped through every market and shop. 

I was particularly excited this year to see L experience Christmas for the first time, and I'll be the first to admit that my expectations were probably a little high... given that my child is all of ten months old and would rather rip Pottery Barn catalogs to shreds than decorate sugar cookies and write letters to Santa.  However, I was handsomely rewarded with the most enthusiastic little ankle-biter to ever sit beneath a Christmas tree... This child clapped and laughed and feasted and grinned and basked in the spotlight of Baby's First Holiday familial adoration.  Basically, I owe her one because my girl was ON.

Our yearly festivities actually began way back at the beginning of December when L and I flew to Austin for barely 24 hours to celebrate with mi padre's side of the familia, Chili & Tamales style. As a child. my dad and his siblings always enjoyed the South Texas tradition of eating chili and tamales on Christmas Eve, and we carry on that tradition every year in the form of a pre-December-24th fiesta at my parents' home.  L wasn't able to say up for the majority of the evening, but she did great guests as a proper lady does... stripped down to her underpants with homemade tamales smeared all over her face.  Sadly for me and fortunately for her 16 year old self, I came away without any photographic evidence of said antics... just a few gems in front of the grandparental tannenbaum {the one below was featured on their Christmas card since it appears 10 months was too short a time to snap a picture of all five of us}.


Next Stop: Christmas with E's parents... wherein we learned L does not take kindly to tights, even if they are of the adorable polka dot variety.  


Once we moved to the Casualwear Portion of the Evening, she was good to go... 


The ripping wrapping paper concept was a new one {I guess the Pottery Barn catalogs don't translate...}, but she had great fun banging on boxes and hauling her yellow cat puzzle piece all over Gigi and PawPaw's house.  Two thumbs up, fine holiday fun! 

The Friday before Christmas, E and I took a somewhat pricey gamble and booked a carriage ride to see the lights in Highland Park... a great example of my too-high-coulda-been-a-disaster expectations that ended up being a total and complete hit.  A brief bout of fussiness was cured with a constant stream of Fiddlesticks, and the rest of the hour was spent bouncing on our laps, petting the greenery and twinkle lights adorning our carriage, and oohing and ahhing over the fancy houses dressed up in holiday finery.  At one point, near the end of our ride, L spied a lawn full of glowing reindeer, excitedly pointed, squealed, and clapped... I about exploded.  CHILDLIKE WONDER FOR THE WIN. 


We arrived at Mama J's in Waco on Saturday, and enjoyed some quality time with cousin Margot before the rest of the family drove up on Sunday, including supper at Ninfa's - the spot of our first date back in 2006.  L approved of the spinach enchiladas, and we are happy to report that Ninfaritas still appear to be making love connections amongst the Baylor set. 

Re-IGing this one because I love it so! @mwarren13 #latergram
Showing L where the magic happened... Ninfa's: First Datesville
Tree gazing... A good morning, indeed

On Sunday, GranJan and T-Pop arrived, along with the Hyde contingency.  11 people under one roof makes for a merry mess of activity, something I've always loved about a big family Christmas.  We alternated eating and power-walking {I should mention spent 4 days eating like an Atkins Diet Beefcake... pork tamales, beef stew, chili, turkey, brisket, two kinds of sausage... it was like watching a 15 year old boy take on an entire butcher counter} and running to Target for wine and razors and conditioner {a box of tampons, some Marlboro Lights!} and wrapping gifts we'd had overnighted directly to Waco.  At some point, we watched Love Actually and my 87 year old grandmother proclaimed all the characters to be "very odd people" {I think she was really referring specifically to the body doubles for the porn movie}, which kind of made my year. 

Smell this, Mama J!

On Christmas Eve Day, we made a detour to the Baylor Bear Habitat on the way to pick up Viteks.  I took L to the zoo a few months ago and she couldn't have cared less about the animals, but she was pretty smitten with Lady and Joy.  

GranJan Photobomb.
Visiting Lady & Joy at the Bear Pit!

We attempted Christmas Eve services... I was really hoping she'd make it to the end to see the candles and sing Silent Night, but we had to book it back home before the sermon, 'lest the entire congregation hear her pleas for more Cheerios.  You win some, you lose some. 


After our post-church guests said goodnight and L was tucked all snug in her bed, my cousin Austen and I tackled the IKEA Rocking Moose.  E was an excellent water boy and kept us plied with pinot noir as we plowed through all 15 steps.  It only took us 2 hours!  Next year, we'll remember the electric screwdriver... woof. 

As the clock drew close to midnight, we stuffed stockings and played Santa... Honestly, all the prep was high on my list of Favorite Parts.  I truly cannot wait until next year when we will do cookies and milk and reindeer food and Santa's boot prints from the fireplace.  Those details were just magical to me as a child and I'm thrilled to recreate them. 

Santa came! {after 2 hours of wielding an IKEA allen wrench and imbibing 3 glasses of wine...}

Christmas morning arrived, and I couldn't have orchestrated a better reaction from L.  She is a very curious and excitable baby, but also a careful one... She moved from one toy to the next, smiling and laughing and clapping and shaking her instruments all the way.  


While everyone else opened their gifts, she happily played with bows, her egg shakers, and still-in-the-box-oh-the-box-is-so-fun bath letters {one of her stocking stuffers}.  


When the tree was tapped, we clapped for Santa.  

Yay! Christmas! Clap! Clap! Clap!

And we clapped some more. 

And then we ate sausage, rocked out on the moose, and rounded it all out with more clapping. 

I mean, COME ON.  Kill me dead, why dontcha.

The day continued, of course -- there was a delicious Christmas supper and the glorious turkey coma napping and our yearly jaunt to the Hollywood theater {we saw Les Mis / it lived up to my expectations, including my expectation that Russell Crowe is a terrible singer and I about fist pumped his very graphic demise / I could listen to Eddie Redmayne sing all day / I cried way less than I do during the stage show, except during the Epilogue, where I cried just as much as I usually do / yay for Colm Wilkinson cameos / that's all I really have to say about that} -- but I'm just going to end on the clapping note because... OBVIOUS HIGH POINT.


ETA:  Um.  I do not know why YouTube is THWARTING my efforts at MORE ADORABLE CLAPPING VIDEOS, but it seems technology is not on my side today. Imagine more clapping.  With a heaping helping of adorableness.  Or you can click this link if you must see it for yourself


  1. Oh I'm so glad to hear your baby loved Christmas. Margot is 13 months old and she liked some parts, like the stocking, but was really not so sure about the Moose (Santa also brought her a rocking Moose). We were so excited about it and couldn't wait to show her Christmas morning but she kept shaking her head no and then she cried when we put her on it. I was sad. But the next day we started petting the moose each morning and after a few days she was all about it. Now she freaking loves it.

  2. So adorable. It was really special to watch all my friends celebrating their first Christmas as parents this year. I also have a few friends who have 2-3 year olds and its really fun to watch their kids "get" Christmas for the first time and be excited about Santa etc. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Overload of cuteness. I remember my girls' first Christmases-ahhh. It gets better.

    YES! Russell Crowe was definitely the low point. But, overall Les Mis was AMAZING. I laughed, I cried, I wondered why I'd never heard of Eddie Redmayne before.

  4. Such a fun first Christmas for Leighton! Isn't everything -- especially a holiday -- immensely better with a tot? Cheers to a happy and healthy start to your 2013!

  5. I say this as someone who knows that there are no babies in my near future: OH MA GAH, I WANT A CUTE CHRISTMAS BABY!!!!!!!

    Seriously, she is such a peach! Nothing like Christmas through a child's eyes!

  6. The waving video kills me. As does the clapping one. They all kill me in the best way possible. I also love how Ev's whistles at her (similar to the way one might whistle at the Boom). And, in the waving video...his "HEYYYYYYYYYYYY GIRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRL" is top notch. Really good stuff all around.

  7. The photos are fabulous!! Love replaying it all in my head. So special!


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