It's been a wonderful week. Christopher and I celebrated Christmas together on the eve of Christmas Eve. We went out to dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant, then exchanged presents.
Christopher and Bryan's tree
I got this pretty wrapping idea from here.
We celebrated Christmas Eve at Nonie's house (my mom's mom). It's been tradition in our family to eat French meat pie on Christmas Eve, a tradition that came from my grandfather's 100% French family (and Nonie is 100% Irish... how cool is that? Unheard of these days).
I love listening to the stories of their Christmases long ago. Nonie and Grandpa were both from Catholic families, so they couldn't eat all day Christmas Eve (Ember Days...a thing of the past in the Catholic faith now). They attended midnight mass - literally midnight, unlike today's 9:00pm "midnight" mass. With all their relatives, they bundled themselves up to stay warm in the cold Michigan night, and walked several long blocks to church. Nonie said they were like a parade going down the streets together. She still likes to laugh about her mother-in-law's skinny legs covered in layers of long underwear walking through the snow.
When they got home after their long Christmas mass, it would be two in the morning. Grandpa's mom would take the warm meat pies out of her wood stove (seriously, I have trouble keeping things warm when I can set things to a temperature... how did she do this?!) and they would feast like kings. The menu was always French meat pie, homemade baked beans, and pickles. Today, the menu remains the same. My brother and I agree that when we think of Christmas, the first thing that comes to mind is meat pie.
This year was the first year without Grandpa with us. Nonie set up a memory tree with pictures of the loved ones that weren't at the table: Grandpa, Aunt Rosie, John, and my mom. It was beautiful, but it was sad. As we said our blessing, I saw many tears blinked back around the tables. I'm glad Grandpa was with my mom this year, but I'm selfish. I wish they were still with me.
Christmas Day was spent at my grandparents on my dad's side. The tradition there is a Christmas brunch and then presents. The youngest always passes out presents. The baby of the family - my 18-year-old brother - was the little elf, as he has been for.... about 17 years. :) He wasn't thrilled, but he humored the family.