Cookies and Swords!

So my mom brought me a tin of my FAVORITE Christmas cookies, of which I have been guilty of having more than a couple. In fact, there is now only one left, and that lone cookie reminds me that Christmas is now over.

Believe it or not, Christmas has not really been my favorite time of year. It reminds me of hard times my family has gone through, of depression and loss and feeling inadequate for not having money to spend it the way television insists we do. It can seem so forced and artificial, and the materialism of the holiday has left me feeling just as discouraged as Charlie Brown.

But I have been coming around, and have developed a new appreciation for Christmas. Part of it has to do with having someone special to share it all with (I don’t blame you for gagging right about now). Cliff and I put up lights and decorations, and this was our first Christmas together.

My friend Emily gave me this chandelier ornament! How fabulous!

We even put up lights, which was a big deal for me since I grew up in a condo that didn’t allow us to put up outdoor lights, and since then I have lived in apartments/ houses where I could only put lights in windows. We even bought a snowman lawn thingy that we put up on the balcony.

On Christmas Eve, my mom and Grandpa came over for dinner. I loved playing hostess, and I cooked up tamales (bought ’em, didn’t make them myself. No way.) and other yummy sides, and we all drank wine and talked late into the night. It really was wonderful. My grandpa and Cliff are like new BFFs.
 Here’s the cheese plate from that night– I made the mozzarella myself, and chopped some rosemary from my garden to sprinkle on top. Yummers!

Christmas day we slept in, I made french toast and eggs, and we got to opening presents. I still can’t believe my man got me this:

That’s right, a friggin KATANA! The picture doesn’t do it justice; it really is gorgeous. I am actually a little afraid of it– that bad boy can do some serious damage. I am determined to learn more about it, if not at least from watching YouTube videos.

After a day of being lazy and making plans for our January vacay, on the night after Christmas we went to Ruth’s Chris for dinner with my man’s sister and cousin. What’s better than amazing steaks, (hello, they melt a pat of butter on each one!) good wine, and raunchy conversation? Nothing, I say!

And finally, last night, I met Cliff’s aunt when she hosted dinner at her house. She is a fun woman, and another night of great food, wine, and conversation rounded out the week perfectly.

Even if Christmas itself can be lame at times, the wonderful thing about it is that it gets you at a dinner table with family and friends– I didn’t even get into the fun girls’ night out I had before Christmas, or the post-Christmas beers I had with other friends! But it’s all about spending time with the people who matter most. This year I was blessed to get to include Cliff in my family time, and to be included in his. And really, that is better than any Christmas gift, even if it is a badass sword.

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