And we were on Day 2 of what ended up being 11 days in Tucson. I haven't spent that many continuous days in Tucson since winter break in 2002 when I was in graduate school. We had planned on coming home on the 30th, but stayed until the 2nd because 1) people just kept feeding us good food and 2) there is too much work at home.
The morning of Christmas Eve I met my friend Sara for a coffee. She lives in New Jersey and we're pretty sure we haven't seen each other since High School. We walked into Starbucks and immediately ran into my friend Megan's mom. This is significant because Sara and Megan were good friends in college unbeknownst to me until just a few years ago.
We took a selfie and I sent it to Megan because it was too funny.
My brother Nathan, his wife Kendra and their daughter (my niece!) Bella got into Tucson very late on the 23rd. It was the first time we had met Bella. She felt like a big kid eating lunch at the island with her cousins.
We went to 4:00 mass that day. We tried some family pictures before we left.
We promised the kids we would take funny ones if they did a good job with the real ones. I think we should only do funny ones from now on.
Official Christmas Eve
It was awesome finally being the parents that didn't have a hard time with their kid(s) during church. Bella was adorable, but quite vocal and active.
On the altar where Michael and I got married.
Back at home after mass my dad set up a scotch tasting table,
And we tried a few more family photos just for the heck of it.
Then people started coming and it got real festive.
Last year I was trying to find a picture of me and my grandma and was really sad when I realized there are very few of them at all. And I was 32 when she passed away. I decided it's my job to take pictures of people together so this won't happen to anybody in the future.
I'm not going to label everyone. Just scroll. Or scroll past. It won't hurt my feelings.
Bella was never, ever still. She is a busy, busy 19 month old.
Jerry read a Christmas story that my mom had picked before we ate. My dad provided some reading light with his pocket flashlight.
We had butternut squash (or maybe it was sweet potato- I don't remember!) soup for the first course.
Nick made almost all of the food. We had duck.
Duck with cherry sauce.
Have you seen the Yule Log video with Nick Offerman? It played the whole time during our dinner. This is the description from YouTube: Enjoy 45 minutes of uninterrupted Lagavulin™ Single Malt Scotch Whisky-drinking bliss with Nick Offerman by the Yule Log Fireplace… and you don’t even need to exchange words.
Basically it's Nick Offerman sitting by a roaring fire and every few minutes he recrosses his leg or takes a sip of whisky. A couple of times he looks in his glass. He blinks too!
Here's the link. Keep it in mind for your Christmas 2016.
After dinner it was time for presents. Michael got a motion activated candy dispenser for his office from my aunt and uncle so he doesn't have to hide in our closet and eat candy in the dark anymore.
Time for dessert
My mom made a plum pudding with hard sauce as special requested by my dad because my grandma used to always make one. It was delicious and I'm still regretting that I never had any more of it that night.
Nick had the honor of pouring on the flaming brandy.
After dessert it was time for the younger crowd to go to bed. But first there was some work to be done.
Preparing a cookie plate for Santa.
Getting water and carrots ready for the reindeer. This is the first year that Elliott really understood it and was really into it.
And finally, I will leave you with pictures of Michael and Nick sitting inappropriately close to each other and showing off their socks.
It's a loooooooooooooooooong time joke between me and Nick that Michael has been brought in on. I won't explain. It wouldn't make any sense.