Thursday, December 31, 2009

Perhaps the best Yuletide decoration is being wreathed in smiles.

"Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love."

For me, Christmas started when I received a beautiful Christmas swag all the way from Maine Wreaths in early December, from my Grandpa. It smelled so wonderful that I decided to keep it in the house for a couple of days before I hung it, as the sole Christmas decoration we put up this year, on the front door, where it's still hanging. I know Christmas is over, but it's a decoration that is more seasonal for me, as opposed to strictly holiday, and I love seeing it every time I come home. (Picture to come.)

On December 19th, we (SLCA) sang the works of  Rachmaninoff, Respighi, Ramírez, and Rutter to a sold out house in Libby Gardner Hall during our holiday concert. Read the rave review here. SLCA requires a large time commitment with rehearsals, individual study and practice of the music, and extra rehearsals before concerts, but it's always worth it once we're on stage and singing. It really is rewarding and I just love adding all this exceptional choral music to my repertoire. Not to mention, singing with a great director like Dr. Brady Allred, and with such wonderful singers and friends.

The Christmas season would not have felt complete without attending the evening Christmas Carol service with friends or the noon concert with my mom of Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols, both at The Cathedral of the Madeleine. The choristers of the Madeleine Choir School truly fascinate me with their poise and discipline. Great concert atmosphere, great singing, and a great way to celebrate Christmas!

Then off to Dad and Nancy's or as we like to call it, Resort Montrose. I arrived on the 23rd and had a full day with Dad and Nancy to myself! Loved it! We talked, ate Phở, talked, shopped, tried a new frozen yogurt bar down the street, sat by the fire, talked, read, wrapped presents, talked, and talked. It was great! The next day, Christmas Eve, Marina and Shepherd arrived separately (Marina flying in from NYC and Sheppo driving down from San Francisco) in time for a Christmas Eve dinner of tamales (yum!), traditional opening of Christmas pajama pants, and a hilarious showing of Hangover.

Christmas morning brought the unveiling of so many fun gifts (future posts on these). Isn't it fun when you're so excited for everyone else to open the gifts from you, almost as excited about opening your own gifts? That afternoon, we drove over (in Shepherd's new car) to Auntie Vicki and Uncle Hank's for the traditional family Christmas Dinner.

Enjoyed delicious fare including: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans with carrots and pine nuts, southern pineapple casserole (delish! -- Thanks Amanda!), shrimp cocktail (I could live off this), and a bunch of desserts that I didn't even try.

Saw cousins who have grown a foot since the last time I saw them. Held my newest baby cousin, Henry, born in November. Enjoyed catching up with everyone. We ended the night at home reading. All in all, a great Christmas day.

Since the five of us don't get to see each other often enough, we spent the rest of the weekend just spending time together talking, reading, enjoying new Christmas gifts, listening to music, walking around The Americana at Brand window shopping, seeing Up in the Air, and going out to Min's Kitchen for a delicious Thai dinner.

Sunday, I flew home. And Monday, it was back to work. But like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I still felt like I was on vacation this week. Work was quiet since so many people were on vacation. I just felt a whole lot more relaxed at work than I have in awhile. It was nice.

A great Christmas season it was for me. And after finals, it really was relaxing and most enjoyable. I hope yours was too!

Photo of The Cathedral of the Madeleine found here.
Photo of the organ at Libby Gardner Hall courtesy of Tom Sparks.
Photo of Southern Pineapple Casserole found on a Google Search.
All other photos courtesy of Nancypants.


Nancypants said...

Thanks for this post Em!!! I love seeing our adorable family together! I want to do it all over again xoxoxoxoxox

Joe and AnnMarie said...

Em, sounds like a perfect day. I've learned that family is what makes the holidays special. Your holiday sounds wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that you were able to be with Dad, Nancy, Marina and Shepherd for Christmas. We missed you, but there are times that having two families probably beats having one. I love you a lot and am glad that we had a chance to have our Christmas with you, too. And there is more to come!