Last year, Aunt Dee inadvertently started the tradition of having the Bura Extended Family Christmas on Christmas Eve, rather than on Christmas Day. Aaron and I decided we kind of liked it that way last year, so I asked Dee if we’d be doing it that way again this year. At least for now, it seems to have stuck. With all of Pete and Dee’s clan growing up (OK, even the youngest is just about drinking age now) and getting partners of their own, it won’t be long before everyone has multiple holiday gatherings to attend, anyway.
Dinner was slated to start at 3pm, so we started the two-hour trip around noon-thirty. Connor’s naptime is around 1pm, and he thankfully managed to sleep at least a little while en route.
Of course, he didn’t sleep for his normal two hours — only about 45 minutes, if that — but better a short nap in the car than no nap at all. If dinner had been much earlier (or if we’d wanted to socialize longer beforehand), Connor would have been napless, and that’s no good for anyone.
When we arrived, what to our wondering eyes did appear but a beautiful roast!
Alas, it was resting. We were some of the first arrivals, so went out into the living and dining rooms to greet family members and to eat cookies and artichokes and stuffed olives and pickles and fudge. Isn’t that what everyone has for Christmas appetizers?
Connor discovered himself in the pendulum of the grandfather clock in the dining room:
He also re-discovered the treasure trove of VHS tapes that he enjoyed strewing about at Thanksgiving. We had to be careful that he didn’t push them backward, though, because the back of the TV stand isn’t attached, so it’s easy for the cord to jiggle loose from the television if helped along by a rambunctious toddler. Oops.
Cousins Megan and Alex and their respective partners Ryan and Richard arrived. Here, Megan is noticing Aaron’s t-shirt for the first time, while Alex totally knows I’m taking pictures of them all and Richard hasn’t quite gotten that the thing on Aaron’s shirt is the Nyan Cat.
Here I am with Connor, keeping him occupied for all of two minutes by playing with the front-facing camera on my iPhone 5.
After a while, Connor got tired of waiting for dinner, so we plopped him into his high chair and fed him the yogurt and applesauce we brought along for just such an occasion. We think he might be cutting some more teeth, hence the drool along with his exquisite expression of boredom here:
He completely soaked the front of his onesie with drool by the end of the evening. (It got warm in the house, so we had to remove his cute Christmas sweater shortly after we arrived.)
Finally, finally, grown-up dinner was ready. (It was actually funny — we turned off the television, and the room got immediately silent. We were all expecting the traditional prayer, I think… but it didn’t happen. The atheist contingent has increased over the years, and I wonder if that had something to do with it, or if it was just a hungry oversight.)
I will tell you what: Christmas dinner at Pete and Dee’s never disappoints. This was the best hunk of roast beast I ever enjoyed at someone’s house. Perfectly cooked, medium rare, with a delicious horseradish sauce. Add to that the chicken paprikash, the green bean casserole, and everything else… My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach.
After dinner, Connor decided it would be great fun to snatch my bottle of water. After a while, the game became for him to swish his arm and knock it onto the floor so I could pick it up again. Rinse and repeat.
Of course, I had to go around and take some photos of Dee’s decorations, like this fiberoptic angel (whose wings changed color over time):
Dee always has candles out. Before Dee, I didn’t know that wood wick candles existed. No wood wicks this year, but I’m a sucker for any kind of candle.
Here’s a picture of Connor as he spent most of the evening: in motion. He was literally doing laps for a while — running through the living room, up the front hallway, into the kitchen, through the dining room, and back into the living room, all the while with either me or Aaron following after.
Finally, Aaron turned Connor upside-down for a moment of peace and giggles.
Clockwise, we have Ryan and Megan, Richard and Alex, Suzie, and Gabe. Not too long after this photo was taken, we played the Left Right Night Before Christmas Game — we went home with a couple of martini glasses, some magnets, a Star Wars puzzle, and Angry Birds hand sanitizer. (I never get pictures of the game, since I’m playing it!)
Nate’s son Andrew played with Connor for a good part of the evening, showing him the cat’s toys and trying to get him to play pretend (a skill he hasn’t quite mastered yet).
Connor had fun looking at all the presents under the tree (especially since our tree at home isn’t where he can get at it, and the presents were all kept safely out of reach).
Aunt Dee loves Connor! (He’s not quite as docile and cuddly as he was last Christmas, but he still likes a good hug.)
He also likes playing with George the Cat. (Connor looks like such a little boy in this picture! Not a baby for much longer…)
One other tradition that I started last year was of Dee taking a picture of the three of us in front of their tree with my phone. I do the Christmas card photo at home, sure, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone else snap the picture, even if it is just with a cameraphone.
We headed home with a sleigh full of toys (Duplo blocks, board book, coloring book and crayons, chocolates, Spongebob body wash, aforementioned game gifts, and a few other things) and a slightly cranky and definitely sleepy boy.
Once we got home, we got him into bed, abandoned the thought of assembling his toy box until Christmas Day, and spent a little time unwinding. The next day was Christmas Day… but that’s a photo extravaganza for another day.