On Christmas Day, my parents and I went to Holy Family Catholic Church for Christmas Day Mass - it was gorgeous! I wish I had pictures! There were about 14 Christmas Trees on the altar, tons of red poinsettias, and a huge creche with near-life size figures!! My church's choir is amazing, so we really enjoyed Christmas Mass. My parents have also been to Easter Saturday Mass so knew they were in for a wonderful experience but were still blown away by the Mass. I usually go to church by myself so it was really nice to have my parents there with me.
After Mass, we headed back to my place, packed up, and headed to my Aunt Barb & Uncle Paul's house in Inver Grove Heights. This is the first Christmas my parents have come to Minneapolis - I usually go home, but since I am out of vacation time, they graciously agreed to come and stay with me. Which really worked out so well as my Aunt Mary Beth & Uncle Gary had flown back from sunny Florida to spend Christmas with my cousin & his 2 sons. So my mom & her 2 sisters would all be in Minneapolis for Christmas and Barb offered to host us. We haven't celebrated Christmas with my mom's side of the family for probably 15-20 years. It's been at least since my grandma passed away in 1992, but probably before that. We usually spend it with my dad's side, but my inability to go home for Christmas meant switching things up a bit!
Barb and Paul are recently retired and have chronicled their post-retirement travels on a fabulous blog. It's been so fun to read their blog - even though we live just 30 minutes apart, our schedules don't allow for us to get together as often as we'd like, so blogging is a great way to keep up on each others' lives!
After dinner I had a chance to talk to my cousin Suzanne about her experiences in Medical School. She came very close to making her slightly squeamish brother, Nick, lose his dinner while regaling us with tales from the trenches! Hearing her talk about some of things she's done sure make my job look pretty boring!! Suzanne found out this past year that she has Celiac Sprue. She also has a blog where she shares some of the glutten-free dishes she has made. I am hoping to try a few of her recipes as well - she is much more accomplished in the kitchen than I am!
Barb & Paul also experimented and made some 'sugar plums' - which were delicious. I had recited "The Night Before Christmas" many times and always wondered what the heck they were, so it was fun to sample them - they were delicious!!
They also made some Fruit Cake which was really, really delicious. Fruit Cake has gotten quite a bad reputation, but Barb & Paul proved it is actually a tasty treat when prepared right!
Mom brought some of her traditional Christmas treats, my favorite of which was the Heath Candy she makes!
It was an absolutely wonderful day! I am hoping that our families won't go another 10 years without celebrating Christmas together again. Perhaps I will have my own house and will be able to host some day! A formal dining room is on my list of "must haves" for my house search, so we'll see what 2009 brings!