As you may recall, Missy and I had a blast in Manassas, but sadly we had to leave the Bixler clan and continue on with the rest of our Christmas on the east coast. Next stop: Fairfax!
My sister Hannah and her BF Chris had bought a place in the big city just this past summer, so Missy and I figured that since we were in the area we’d drop by for a visit. Turns out…it’s only 15 minutes down I-66 from where Jake and Melissa live…small world! Anyway, Hannah was quite the hostess…she made a mean beef stew for dinner after showing us around Tyson’s Corner, and fed us all the Christmas cookies we could eat. Our visit turned into a sleepover, and we listened to music and watched
Christmas movies all night long. The morning we woke to Christmas panacakes and Christmas Smoothies. Ok…kidding about the Christmas themed everything…but Hannah really did make us killer protein smoothies! Already staying longer than intended, Miss and I soon packed our gear and continued on up to Hagerstown after breakfast.
The next few days leading up to Christmas in Hagerstown was a complete whirlwind of activity. Decorating cookies at my mothers new place, to catching my brother Robert’s Eagle Scout ceremony down at the church, to last minute shopping, and making sure I see my old friends…it was exhausting, but totally worth it.
There is a new sports bar in H-Town called the Greene Turtle, and thankfully only a two minute drive from my Dad’s new place. Missy and I spent much of Wednesday night catching up with all my high school friends at the Turtle. Honestly, this place was pretty sweet! Big screen TV’s (including an enormous scoreboard-themed centerpiece) in every direction and some great Maryland favorites on the menu…it was most definitely an upgrade (in our opinion anyway) from the same old stand-by bars we usually frequent on our visits back east.
* * * * * *
The Hardinge’s take Christmas to a whole new level. Missy was completely caught off-guard the first time she experienced the madness (a good madness, of course). The fun starts Christmas Eve with the Hardinge family dinner, consisting of Campbell’s Vegetable Beef Soup, wine, cheese, and crackers. The “tradition” started long ago, when there wasn’t enough time between Christmas Eve services (the evening pageant and the midnight candle-lit service) at church for a formal meal, so canned soup had to do the trick. Now, I don’t think it would be Christmas Eve without it. The wine, obviously, was a later addition 😉 The late service put us home after midnight…but the fun was just beginning.
Rising early, the first stop was up to my Mom’s place for breakfast and opening presents with her and the other siblings.
Usually, the next stop on our Christmas Day tour is to Aunt Barb’s for a huge brunch with the family, with eggs, sausage, ham, coffee cake, coffee, and doughnuts. It’s intense. This year, however, the brunch got bumped to December 26th due to the weather. So we had a little extra down time at Mom’s to watch some TV before heading over to Dad’s for a late lunch and presents, part two…
…where we had a chance to catch up with each other and really enjoy the family togetherness that the holidays bring.
The evening leg brings us back together with Mom’s side of the family at Uncle Andy’s for dinner, games and gifts. A few years back, Hannah decided to put together a Yankee Trader gift exchange, and it was an instant success with the family. It has since become an amazingly fun tradition.
When all was said and done, we didn’t make it back home until past midnight, which made for a super-long day. Oh, and Missy was super-heroine-esque, carrying triplets the whole time with a smile on her face! What a trooper!
If all that wasn’t enough…there was one last big surprise…Peg and Mom had conspired together to throw Missy a baby shower the day after Christmas! Since this would be the only chance most of my family and friends would have to attend a baby shower for us, they decided that this was the best time to do it. We were totally shocked, and so thankful for the generosity everyone showed us.
So, all-in-all, it was an amazing trip home to the Hub City. We had to make it count, since we don’t know when the next time we make it back out will be once the girls arrive!