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This Christmas

Well, I suppose we can't expect Christmas to be the same year after year. After all, children marry, new traditions are born as old ones are still being carried out, and then there are always changes that just sort of take place, and you have no choice but to accept them and forge ahead. That said, here's a little recap of how we spent Christmas 2009.

We had an interesting start to our Christmas vacation this year. Two days before we were due to head to North Carolina, we pounded by a merciless snow storm- the Weather Channel went so far as to place our county in a blizzard warning. We ended up with about two feet of snow- it covered everything (see photos!), including our car, which Sacha had the pleasure of digging out early Monday morning. We were snowed in for a couple of days, and though I'm usually always the one who is just itching to get out, I didn't mind staying in- it was cozy, and nice and perfectly lovely just to be.

So, we did head home on the Monday before Christmas.It was a bit treacherous trying to drive out of our parking lot and the connecting side road, which were solid ice- but once we made it to the main highway, we were safe and the roads were clear of ice and other vehicles. We arrived in Salisbury around 3:30 that afternoon, and met my dad at the church for a little visit and to pick up the keys to my Gram’s apartment, where we were going to be staying for a few days.

We spent the next couple of days visiting family, running last minute Christmas errands, and practicing our respective musical pieces for Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve Day and the Eve itself are always ridiculously hectic for all of us. I had every intention of relaxing a bit that morning, but Sacha and I had the main entre to prepare for our annual Christmas Eve dinner, which takes place at Donna and Willi’s house in between our two Christmas Eve services. This is something that our families have done together for the past 11-12 years- it’s a wonderful tradition. This year, Sacha volunteered us to make the main dish, and he was pretty gung-ho about making chicken cordon bleu, so we bought everything we needed a day prior and then went over to Donna and Willi’s mid-morning on the 24th to make a big mess in their kitchen. I also made our traditional Christmas Eve spanakopita, and a very large sheet cheesecake. We cleaned ourselves up, dressed for church and then headed back over to Donna and Willi’s house and were joined by Gretchen, Rachel, Thomas (Rachel’s boyfriend), Kathy (Thomas’ mom), Heidi, Lucie, Brenna, Connor, Carl and Anne Sachtleben (our former pastor and his wife), and soon after, mom and dad. We ate and ate until our tummies couldn’t handle anymore food, had a lovely visit, and even all got together for a family photo before we headed off to church.

Christmas Eve service at St. John's was beautiful, as it is every year. Sacha and I were both involved in sharing music during the prelude. It was such a joy to honor the Lord by singing before the service began, and the same can be said of Sacha's playing the trombone. All of the music was wonderful- the handbells, the choir, the brass, vocalists, etc. It was so wonderful to worship the Lord with family, and see our friends. After the service, we headed over to the Kinard's house for their annual Christmas party. We arrived home sometime nearing 1 am, and crawled into bed.

Meanwhile, when mom and dad got home from the party, they found that Cocoa, our family dog of almost 16 years had passed away. We had been expecting it, as Cocoa's health had been deteriorating for the past year or so, and she had been heading downhill for the past few months. She was a wonderful dog- we loved her very much and enjoyed a wonderful, long life with her. She is missed terribly by all of us.

Christmas morning was busy- Sacha and I woke up and opened our presents to one another at 7 am, and were then over at Donna and Willi's house around 8:30 am to open presents with the Beilfuss/Witt/McCormick Clan. It's so much fun to watch the kids open gifts...and Rachel, too! We enjoyed spending the morning together, laughing, eating (of course!) and making memories.

Sometime early afternoon, Sacha and I headed over to my mom and dad's. It was odd not having Cocoa with us on Christmas morning. That aside, we ate and laughed and opened gifts and had a great time together. We missed Britt and Cory more than words could say- it was our first Christmas without Britt. We played with our new gadgets- dad with his Garmin and Bluetooth, mom with her new laptop and looked at the tree for a bit. Sacha and I eventually headed home to get some rest, and pack for our Christmas trips.

The next morning, we picked Rachel up, and then I was dropped off at mom and dad's house. Sacha and Rachel headed off to Tennessee to spend time with their grandparents, dad, Candy, aunts, uncle and cousins. They spent a couple of days there and enjoyed at Witt family Christmas gathering. That same day, I left for Oak Island with mom and dad. Sacha joined us a few days later...and we're still here. We're enjoying being very lazy- relaxing, reading, going for walks, the beach, shopping excursions (mostly to appease me) and just talking and being together. We have one more full day here, and then we'll be heading back to Salisbury on Sunday.

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