Dueling Christmas Lights – Part One

Another one of the Brethauer Christmas traditions is to go and look at Christmas lights. Over the years we have driver to many different areas around our town. Sadly, the past four of five years, have pretty much been the same exact houses (something which Matt reminds me every year since these are the only years he has been included in the tradition). Well this year, BOTH sets of parents stepped it up. And boy was I impressed.

First up, the Englehardts. Christmas light viewing is nothing something Matt grew up doing. They were more a “go to the movies on Christmas” type of family. Thankfully, they have welcomed many of my crazy traditions into their lives. So when Matt’s mother announced that she has a surprise adventure planned, I was psyched. We drove to the town of Millis, MA a neighboring town to where Matt grew up. Unfortunately, about 2,000 other people had the same surprise adventure in mind and we ended up waiting for over an hour in traffic. During this time we enjoyed some quality family bonding time with the Boston Pops concert playing in the background. When we finally pulled up enough to see the lights, we all realized the wait was well worthwhile.

Every year, a local businessman, Kevin Meehan puts on a display to top all displays in his family’s home. What started as a small family project has become a Winter Wonderland, acres upon acres lit from top to bottom, which includes 45+ workshops where all of Santa’s friends, family and elves are preparing for the coming holiday, a real tugboat, and Santa himself sitting 40 feet tall. The display is free for all to experience, but friends and family of Mr. Meehan collect donations for the Salvation Army along the route (a nice touch in my mind).

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Mr. Meehan owns a large auto dealership, so the display included some of the new trucks and cars that might be on folks’ Christmas Lists. Hey, a little self-promotion never hurt anyone. Or did it?

Turn it tomorrow for the NH light show.

A Christmas Recap

A few images from our New England Christmas celebrations! Our first stop was Massachusetts to spend time with Matt’s family.

Getting some QT with my niece puppy Sunshine
Getting some QT with my niece puppy Sunshine
Sunny is so happy about her new fur coat
Sunny is so happy about her new fur coat
Bringing a Brethauer tradition to the Englehardts... Monkey Bread!
Bringing a Brethauer tradition to the Englehardts… Monkey Bread!
New clothes!
New clothes!
Quick take a photo of me while I casually pose.
Quick take a photo of me while I casually pose.
Englehardt Family!
Englehardt Family!
The boys made bloody marys for everyone.
The boys made bloody marys for everyone.
Bloody mary bar
Bloody mary bar
I got a new power screw driver from my father-in-law
I got a new power screw driver from my father-in-law
Courtney opening our present to her, a soda stream!
Courtney opening our present to her, a soda stream!
Yummy Chrismtas morning brunch
Yummy Chrismtas morning brunch

Then it was up to New Hampshire for a few days with my family.

Nothing beats hanging out with Abby and her dog Bexley
Nothing beats hanging out with Abby and her dog Bexley
Frosting sugar cookies
Frosting sugar cookies
Yummy!
Yummy!
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
More monkey bread!
More monkey bread!
A skinny Christmas tree this year!
A skinny Christmas tree this year!

 

Deer in the backyard
Deer in the backyard
Bexley in her new bed
Bexley in her new bed
Spending time with my favorite munchkins!
Spending time with my favorite munchkins!
Another Brethauer family tradition
Another Brethauer family tradition

We had a wonderful time visiting our families. Every year I am reminded just how lucky we all are and how incredible my husband is for putting up with my family and our crazy traditions. Here’s to many more Christmas memories made in our matching jammies!

Aliens Kidnapped My Husband

and they replaced him with some form of super husband.

As many of you know, Matt and I are spending our very first Christmas together this year. In the past we have spent Christmas Even with his extended family and then I drive home so that I can do our Christmas Eve traditions and Christmas morning with my family. Then Matt would come up and do Christmas dinner with us and our best family friends, the Possees. It was nice to see both families but required a lot of driving by Matt and I. So, while we miss the traditional Puerto Rican dinner that Matt’s family makes on Christmas Eve, we are very excited to spend the entire holiday together with minimal driving.

Today we work up and went to Crossfit Nashua with Abby, since she is now a crossfitter too! We all struggled through a workout that was modeled after the 12 days of Christmas. Needless to say, Matt was pretty excited about this new holiday tradition.

Afterwards we spent some time wrapping up presents and helping with the Christmas Eve dinner. Matt and I tackled desserts and each decided to make our own things. I made Paula Deen’s Gooey Butter Cake, which in traditional Paula Deen fashion used FOUR sticks of butter. Yummy! This recipe is something that I learned from a co-worker who said that the minute I found out what was in it, I wouldn’t want to make it. Thankfully, a little butter, sugar and eggs didn’t scare me!

Matt decided to make the Oreo Candy Cane Truffles that one of my very best childhood friends, Lindsay, suggested that I add to my holiday baking. I made this earlier this month and they were well received, so Matt thought he would impress/fatten up my family with them. I can not tell you how impressed I was with Matt’s patience, commitment and skill when making these truffles. He did the entire thing by himself and didn’t complain once (I think the fact that he had a beer and glass of wine during the baking process definitely helped).

 

 

In addition to the baking, Matt wrapped about 10 presents and didn’t use a single gift bag (his signature move). Looks like he is adapting well the Christmas with the Brethauers. Hopefully his positive attitude continues through to the matching pjs we are bound to open tonight!

Tasting the Forbidden Fruit

 

Growing up, our household had a lot of holiday traditions. Some of these have since ended, but some are continued to this day.

Most years, I ran in the Memorial Day Road Race. It started as something that I did with my father. I will never forget the first year we ran together. I was in Kindergarten and 5 years old. We “trained” by running around the block near my house. At best, the block covers a total distance of .5 miles and we probably did this 2-3 different times before the race. This was plenty of physical preparation for the 5K run. Unfortunately what my dad didn’t account for was the massive amounts of psychological training I should have been doing.

The race ends with a 100 yard stretch that is lined with the friends and families members of people participating. Well, as we ran down this stretch, I burst into tears. I am not sure what triggered this, but I can tell you that it was a fair warning for my parents for all of the tears that were to come as a result of tennis matches, soccer games, swim meets and all other competitive atmospheres. I finished the race, placing 3rd in the 8 & under division (I can’t imagine there were more than 5 kids in this age group…) and proudly brought my medal into Kindergarten for show and tell the following Monday. For many years after, I participated in this race, often with a different family member.

On Halloween, our town wouldn’t have trick-or-treating on the day of Halloween OR at night. This lead to problems when the New England Swimming Top Ten Banquet often fell on the weekend of trick-or-treating. We probably attended that banquet for 10 years in a row, and would find ourselves sneaking out early so that we could make it home for the last couple hours of trick-or-treating. Either that or we would be coming from a soccer game…

The 4th of July normally meant watching fireworks from CMC (one of the hospitals that my father worked at) and Easter was a family brunch at the Sheraton Hotel and Conference center… I know, I thought that one was weird too. Christmas was matching PJs on Christmas Eve and for the past 15 years, the Candlelight Service at the Bedford Presbyterian Church.  Thanksgiving brings cooking, the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, and many times charades with our family friends, the Possees. However, the tradition I like the most comes the day after Thanksgiving.

While I certainly participate in the shopping escapades that make up Black Friday, the tradition that I am referring to is the welcoming of Christmas. I have a strict “no Christmas” policy until Thanksgiving has past. While I am not a huge fan of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, I do think that the idea of Thanksgiving is one that should not be forgotten. Everyone races to get to Christmas and I find that this holiday gets overlooked. So, as a way to honor Thanksgiving, I don’t listen to Christmas music, set up decorations or truly start my Christmas shopping until that day after Thanksgiving. 

That being said, I LOVE Christmas music. From the Friday after Thanksgiving straight through to Christmas Day, I don’t listen to anything else. I have created countless Christmas Music stations on my Pandora and know the words to basically every Christmas song ever written. I find myself tempted to listen to christmas music, especially if I enter a store that has their holiday decoration out in full force. However, it is a sacrifice that I am willing to make.

Today, while I was sitting at work listening to my “classical music” Pandora station, a song came on that sounded familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it. When I switched my computer screen over to the Pandora website to see the name of the song, I knew immediately that something had gone terribly wrong. The song that I was listening to, and enjoying, was none other than Angels from the Relms of Glory, a 100% Christmas song. I immediately changed the channel, but it was too late. I had tasted the forbidden fruit and I want more.

I now find myself trying to fulfill my musical appetite with the likes of Taylor Swift, the cast of Glee and Something Corporate. Unfortunately all I crave is Mannheim Steamroller, the London Boy’s Choir, and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. It is going to be a long 3 weeks…