Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Christmas Unwrapped

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy anything I left out!

I feel compelled to recognize all holidays of the season. If it were socially acceptable and family-approved, then  I would probably host formal celebrations for all of them.

However, I do have a special fondness for Christmas and its meaning. I thoroughly enjoy the Christmas season and start getting festive as soon as Thanksgiving (err, Halloween) is over. This year, I spent Christmas in the best way possible -- with family and friends.

My celebrations started a week before christmas. I left Athens with Nick (the boyfriend) and spent the weekend with his family in the Columbus area. We played pool at a billiards bar, exchanged gifts, went to a Christmas party with his mom's family, saw Sherlock Holmes 2 and took a trip to the mall. It was a jam-packed weekend, and it was exactly what I needed to get even more into the holiday spirit.

My present is in that bag

Once this fun-filled weekend was over, I traveled home to Dayton. My dad and I started my trip home on a high note with a trip to Panera. I love Panera. I mean, I'm obsessed. If Panera sent me a truckload of  bread accompanied by a boatload of soup, then I would smile for the rest of my life. I got the "You Pick Two Combo." I picked a half Mediterranean Veggie sandwich and a half cup of Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto and an apple on the side. After a weekend filled with carbs and cookies, this meal was exactly what my body wanted and needed.

I spent the next couple of days at home doing some last-minute shopping and gift wrapping and also eating lots of cookie dough (thanks, Mom).

My workouts didn't go to the wayside, though. After all, I needed something to supplement my cookie dough-eating habits. I have been experimenting on my parent's new exercise bike and have tested my endurance by completing new courses every day. I also snuck a cold weather run into the mix and started incorporating weights into my daily workout routine. I think my body is appreciating this fitness mix-up.

On Thursday, I went to lunch with my grandpa, mom, sister and aunts. We went to Jay's Seafood, which is located in the Historic Oregon District. The food was absolutely delicious, and the decor was tastefully festive. The lunch ended up lasting almost four hours. I guess that's what happens when you dine with talkaholics.

Later that day, my friends and I had our annual holiday party.

Reunited and it feels so, so good

We spend these parties talking, talking, eating and talking. We always think that we might want to go out later in the night, but we usually get sidetracked by our own stories and life updates. That's one thing I love about us, we make our own fun.

See, don't we look like an exciting crew?

On Christmas Eve, I accompanied my dad to church. We have started a tradition of going to 4 p.m. mass together every year, and it has become a tradition I look forward to very, very much.

After church, we headed to my grandpa's house and celebrated with my mom's side of the family. This little visit is probably the most symbolic event of Christmas for me. My family has been celebrating Christmas Eve here since before I was born. This is where are all of my most lasting Christmas memories are made.

The whole gang

We laughed, talked, ate and exchanged gifts. I also hung out with my favorite little person.

"Who? Me?"

It was my niece's first Christmas, and getting to spend time with her was the highlight of my holiday.

Ceci and her (self-proclaimed) favorite aunt

After visiting with my mom's side of the family, we moved on to the Snyder grandparent's house for more present exchanging and celebrating. Then, we headed home for a solid night of sleep.

I woke up Christmas morning to find that Santa had paid us a visit.

We were good this year

My parents, grandpa, brother, sister-in-law, niece, sister and I all opened presents together and then enjoyed a delicious brunch made by my mom.

My presents included a Nike running jacket, jewelry, scarves, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," a journalism keepsake box, socks (obviously), a Forever 21 gift card, money, and several other little goodies. I loved everything. It truly amazes me how well I am gifted each year because I never put easily acquirable items on my list. In fact, the only item that has been on my Christmas list for the past five or six years is World Peace. I'm still waiting on that one.

 Ceci is enthralled by the headbands I got her

Later on, we watched "Bad Teacher" (appropriate Christmas movie, right?) and told jokes and stories late into the night. I went to sleep happy and content.

Christmastime truly is the most wonderful time of my year ... Just ask Santa baby.

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