for the first seven years, shaun & i were married, we lived two hours from my side of the family & 14 hours away from his side, so we spent thanksgiving with the massey clan. shaun came to love our decorating tradition, too. last year, since we had moved to indiana, two hours away from the casteel clan & 14 hours away from the masseys, we spent thanksgiving in illinois & enjoyed time with the patrick side [his mom's family] & my first ever casteel cookie decorating tradition! but this year, with my sister moved far away from all of us in texas, we decided to have a massey reunion for thanksgiving in indiana. i was really excited about hosting my first thanksgiving, but i was even more excited about getting to have our tree-decorating saturday!
what makes it my favorite christmas tradition?
1. decorating the tree
[mom & me doing the lights]
i love putting the artificial tree together & wrapping all the lights methodically so that you get even & optimal twinkle! this year, vanessa wasn't wearing her contacts & had forgotten her glasses in texas, so she was particularly helpful at gauging the twinkle factor without even squinting!
2. unpacking the ornaments
[mom & ness unwrapping ornaments
& dad watching the movie]
all of our ornaments have been collected over the years, mostly bought or made by mom. i also now have a few from preschool students - probably my most cherished ones. each ornament has a story or connection to my life. mom always labeled the backs or bottoms of our ornaments with our initials & the year. i love unwrapping & remembering them together. since we usually do this at mom's house with her & vanessa's ornaments, it's been seven years since mom & ness have seen my ornaments!
[my treasured ornament collection]
3. watching xmas movies
we always watch "it happened on 5th avenue" while decorating the tree. if you haven't seen it, it is the cutest christmas movie & a standard at the casteel casa! then, we usually sit back & enjoy our masterpiece while watching "white christmas" - my very favorite movie of all times!
4. eating junk food
my gramma [mom's mom] started a tradition years ago when we moved to wilmington, when i was in middle school, to indulge in nothing but junk food as we celebrated mom's birthday [two days before christmas]. over the years, we have moved the junk food dinner to the saturday after thanksgiving for our first festivity of the season. this year, mom & dad were driving back on saturday, so we decorated the tree on friday & opted to continue enjoying thanksgiving leftovers instead of making all new food. however, being me, i had to have something junk-foodish. i set up the appetizer table from thanksgiving with just a few sweets & treats that we noshed on all evening.
we enjoyed more bites of fall, my "relish cheeseball" [so called because it reminds me of a relish tray], my regular sharp cheddar cheeseball, a relish tray, roasted chickpeas, & almonds.
plus, homemade fudge, homemade toffee, white chocolate pretzels, & my spicy ginger cookies.
5. massey hot cocoa
[shaun making the cocoa]
[massey hot cocoa in a regular mug]
everyone who has had my mom's hot cocoa has begged for the recipe.
6. family time!
[me & ness with zorra]