Christmas Weekend Recap

Nothing Left to Open

In an effort to stave off the post-Christmas blues for as long as possible, I wanted to take a few minutes to relive the fun-filled events that took place over the long holiday weekend.

The excitement began on Friday the 24th.  Normally, I don’t get Christmas Eve off from work, but since Christmas was on a Saturday this year, the holiday was officially “observed” (you know, for business purposes) the previous day.  Truth be told, I usually use a personal day for Christmas Eve, but this year it was nice not to.  Nevertheless, getting to enjoy an extra day with the family was a treat.

Although not as much as predicted, the snow outside was flying, so the whole family was inside keeping company and making last-minute preparations for Christmas.  The girls were their usual selves, always wanting attention, which was happily given to them by everyone, including Cousin Tennyson.  Aunt Melissa and Aunt “Nannon” were always two steps behind her, trying to keep up with T’s ever-changing interests.  Missy and Gram’ma Cindy were busy in the kitchen, while Steve worked a bit and Jake busied himself outside with another stump burn (our Christmas Yule Log).  Watching the madness, I relaxed all morning in my deep leather chair, smoking a pipe and sipping coffee by the fire entertained the girls as best I could and watched on in awe wondering how the rest of the family had endured the past week of non-stop action.

Christmas Eve service at Hope was at 5:00, but since everyone was all dolled up, we figured that it would be an ideal time to take the Florer/Hardinge/Florer-Bixler family Christmas Card before we headed out.  The service was moving as always.  While most of the sermon was spent in back trying to keep the girls happy, the message was wonderful and the closing candle-lit hymns were (and always are) my favorite part.

Silent Night by Candle Light at Hope

We also took advantage of the setting to snap a quick family photo.

The Hardinge Five on Christmas Eve

We returned to the homestead, where Missy and I fed the girls before putting them down for bed.  An informal fondue dinner was laid out for us once we returned downstairs, and the family gathered around the table for steak, shrimp, bread, and veggies.  The nature of the meal forced us to be still and wait, so with the beer and wine flowing we were soon enthralled in rampant conversation.  By the end of the evening, the girls (Missy, Melissa, and Shannon) were attempting to recreate the Iowa State Fair by seeing what sweets they could deep-fry in pancake batter and eat, while Jake and I retreated outside to the Christmas Yule Log.

Christmas morning arrived early (as most mornings do these day), only this time we were treated to a massive Eggs Benedict and “Special Occasion Bacon” breakfast, which is a “Bopa” Steve specialty.  By 9:00, Tennyson couldn’t wait any longer, so into the gifts she went.  Jovie was the only one awake as we started the festivities, but soon she was joined by her sisters.  With 11 people opening gifts, the whole process took almost two hours, and in the end everyone was pleased with their haul.

Jovie getting First Dibs

Three Little Elves. I think Rowan had just taken Jovie's pacifier...

Missy’s “big gift” to me was an Amazon Kindle (which I love)…

My new toy.

…and I got Missy some of her favorite perfume, and this custom-made necklace I found through Etsy!

Missy's Necklace...3 Peas in a Pod

Melissa prepared a huge sit-down lunch of roast prime rib, glazed carrots, and hand-mashed potatoes for the family.  The meal gave us a chance to enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet before cleaning up the house again and preparing for the family to arrive later in the evening.  In the mean-time, Missy, the girls, and I had an iChat date with our family back in Maryland in was sure to be the first of many “virtual” present exchanges.  I don’t know what we would do without this technology.

Our virtual gift exchange...from the Maryland side.

The rest of the family started to arrive as we were wrapping up the iChat, so back downstairs we went to greet the guests.  Between dinner, gift exchanges, feeding, and entertaining the babies, it turned out to be a pretty hectic evening.  I was grateful for the presence of family on Christmas, but I think we were all on our last legs by night’s end.

Sunday was spent recuperating from all the previous days activities.  Throughout the day we munched on leftovers and entertained Tennyson and the girls, while some semblance of order returned to the house.  Jake and Melissa’s Christmas gift to us was a night out for dinner and beers, so after the girls were fed and happy, we high-tailed it to Des Moines’s High Life Lounge for grub and meaningful adult conversation without interruption from infants and toddlers (oh, and we ate the best.fried chicken.ever…stop what you’re doing and go get some now).

After dinner we walked over to our favorite spot for a brew:  el Bait Shop.  You can’t beat the immense number of beers they have available, and since Jake and Melissa spent a few years in Oregon, they were delighted with all the Rouge and Widmer selections the “el” had to offer.  As per Florer-Bixler/Hardinge protocol, Missy, Melissa and I each ordered a “flight” (beer sampler), while Jake sipped on a pint of Rouge Chipotle Ale and munched on nachos.  It felt so good to decompress and reflect on the weekend while also catching up on each other’s lives without worrying about what our kids were getting into.

Afterwards, with full bellies (and after decreeing that we make the High Life/el Bait dinner & beers combo a Christmas time tradition), we returned home.  Sadly, just like that, the weekend was over.  Missy and I settled into bed to watch some of “The Office” DVD’s she also got for Christmas, but we were soon fast asleep, completely exhausted from an amazing Christmas Holiday weekend.

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About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

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