Santa Claus Came To Town

Or should I say Josh and Heather came to town..two towns to be exact: Indio and Encinitas. Indio with the Browns and Encinitas with the O'Neills. Yup, both parents are now down in SoCal, so we were able to squeeze in the holiday with both families. Josh flew down a day before me since I had a work shift, but I followed shortly after and arrived at our first stop, the Browns, on Wednesday afternoon.

Christmas Part 1 - Brown's in Indio
As I was about to get off the plane at Palm Springs (after a tad bit of turbulence), I noticed we had to go outside once off the plane. Ick, outside, that means cold (or at least that's what my brain translates "outside" these days). However, to my delight I stepped out to a wonderfully warm and sunshiny day. Ahh, melt. Then to top it off, Don and Nada took us to froyo. And it gets better because the flavor was cookies 'n creme. Heaven! And that was the first of the Christmas joys.

The rest of Wednesday was a bit of this and that. We visited some of the Brown's family friends, the Harvey's. We also had dinner at Papa Dan's where Josh's childhood brother-friend (a friend that's like a brother), Kevin, is manager.

Christmas Eve began with some Nada-Heather time getting fabulous manis and pedis. It'd been far too long since my little feeties and handies got some love - too much coffee making, cleaning, and cold weather drying them out. They came out much energized, or at least however hands and feet can be energized.

After nails there was a whirl-wind of errands and Christmas prep time. Suddenly 4pm rolled around and we at the Christmas Eve service at the Southwest Community Church. I was happy to find that they sang multiple carols and the big finale was Silent Night with candles. There was a weird attempt at a skit with mountaineers on clouds acting as angels and some crazy electric guitar version of Carol of the Bells, but all-in-all a nice service.

After the service, we enjoyed a scrumptious dinner at a seafood/steak restaurant called Pacifica. I had a lovely whitefish and a very tasty lemon drop. I even got to add to the the toast: "God bless us everyone." Then the Eve was tied up with some initial gift unwrapping with Aunt Ester back at the hacienda.

The sun shone in on Christmas morning and Santa had made a visit. We dove straight into our stockings where we all got various sorts of fun things - chocolates, notebooks, iTunes cards, and more. A quick break of the fast (aka breakfast) with some yummy multigrain pancakes. But not too long of a break because we were right back with unwrapping gifts from under the tree. Josh gave me a beautiful Tiffany heart necklace - woohoo, my first (and probably only) blue box! Side Note: I'm keeping the cute box. Also I got a super soft, warm vest and turtleneck from Don and Nada. Josh and I also received a nice set of pans for some fabulous cooking - perhaps a Food Network recipe.

We packed up and off we went over the desert and through the mountains (no river or woods, but sorta similar). The road lead us to the beach which brings us to...

Christmas Part 2 - O'Neill's in Encinitas
The minute we arrived, the O'Neill clan (aka mom, dad, and Lindsay) were ready and waiting. They held off all Christmas rituals until our arrival. They had the house prepared and food cooking for the big dinner feast at evening, so we got straight to the unwrapping (after a quick bite to eat). With the O'Neill tradition we started with the gifts under the tree. I must have been a good girl this year because I received all sorts of good stuff - rain boots, mittens, scarves, warm jacket, cozy PJs. Notice the list, they go right along this year's gift theme: warmth. Now I can say I'm all suited up for chilly weather. Additionally, I got a few tech things like an ear piece - Oregon is going to start the hands-free law in 2010. Josh got great stuff too. My gift to him was a nice, warm PJ set.

We had to go-go-go and move straight to stockings before the company arrived for dinner. The traditions were kept and we all sat in our usual places at the fireplace area and opened one gift at a time in a circle. More cute little stuff and goodies.

Starting around 3:30pm, the guests started to arrive. As tradition goes, we had a bunch of our family friends over for a big feast (our friends included the Hartleys and the Troglers). Before indulging in the xmas gluttony, we all sat around the tree and caught up on each others past year and holidays. We even opened some more gifts (I think my fingers should hurt from the unwrapping by this point - hehe, no complaining here though).

Dinner was fabulously delicious with roast turkey (very juicy), mashed pototoes, sweet potato casserole*, Brussels sprouts*, jello (my mom's famous jello with fruit), stuffing, and oh so much more. And don't forget dessert of pie, velvet pudding, chocolates, and cookies. (* = you may recall both dishes from my recipe collection & earlier posts).

And that wraps up (pun intended) yet another wonderful Christmas. Josh and I were blessed in that we were able to see both parents. I had such a great holiday, and to get somewhat mushy here, I feel like a very lucky person to be able to spend the holidays with those I love. I'm so glad I was able to get a few days to spend some quality time with the families - the perfect gift! This comes a bit belated now, but...Merry Christmas!

Christmas pictures are posted on my Flickr site - Check them out! Bonus pictures too from our walk on the beach the day-after-Christmas.

Xmas Time Xmas Tree