Saturday, December 29, 2012

A truly white Christmas!

Bailey enjoying the snow
I have now lived in Iowa for a full year! And, upon that year mark, we finally got snow - just in time for the Christmas season. I love Christmas - the music, decorations, and warm fuzzy feelings. I often forget that it's centered around religious reasons until I find myself in a church or at a Christmas concert at Luther College. Christmas, to me, is not about baby Jesus. It's the time leading up to the actual day that I get to spend with friends, spreading love and cheer.

To aide in these efforts, I started the season by purchasing 15 pounds of butter. The sale price, ordered as a case, saved me $25. And it's delicious, creamy, excellent organic Wisconsin butter. With some of the butter, I made several batches of cookies to share and to gift - Italian Christmas Cookies for an exchange (they have ricotta in them and taste like mini cakes!), gingerbread folks to decorate with Lauren, pfeffernusse for the challenge and to have something different (they're german cookies that have anise seed and cardamom in them), and oatmeal cookies for Tor. I love baking, and what better excuse to bake for friends then Christmas?

And with cookies and friends, December was great. Our work party was a lot of fun, I had plenty of time to have parties and potlucks with friends, and several people made me feel warm and fuzzy with thoughtful and special gifts. I also managed to watch several Christmas classics that I had never seen before. But! Christmas season is not complete without an actual Christmas, right? And so, off to Minnesota I went!

Sully climbing the mountain of presents at Grandma Nelson's
Cristina's in-laws invited me to stay with them for the holiday back at her wedding in July, and since the idea seemed fun and I had no other plans, I headed up to Grand Rapids, Minnesota on Saturday. The drive is gorgeous, and only about six hours from Decorah. Bailey came with, and we had a fabulous time in the snow and country.

Drilling the holes ...

On Sunday we went on a short hike around the woods across the street, and later went to Grandma Nelson's for the Christmas get together. Around 35 people packed into a tiny house to eat delicious food and treats, chat, and play games. I spent a lot of time with the kids outside, wrestling in the snow and pushing them around on sleds. Kids and snow are a great combination, and I have come to find they make them much stronger and bounce-able up north.

On Monday, we started the day ice fishing on a local lake. We drilled four holes into the ice, popped a tent over them, then waited for the fish to ignore us. It's quite cozy inside the tent, with a little heater and plenty of tasty provisions. Without any luck, we afterwards went to a service at the local church and had family over in the evening for dinner and good company. After folks left, we watched a movie and went to midnight mass. Christmas carols!
And now we can fish! 

On Christmas morning, Patrick took Cristina and I sledding around the woods. And by sledding, I mean to say he dragged us in a sled behind his four-wheeler. We attempted to dodge branches and twigs, and quite naturally he flipped our sled a few times. It was fantastic. In the afternoon, all of Patrick's siblings and subsequent kids came over. We played outside, had a bonfire, blew things up, and ate delicious food. After gifts, we stayed out with the kids under a gorgeous moon until it was -8F. Patrick's parents got me a really nice sweatshirt  and sent me home with a bunch of meat. I was really touched, and I love the sweater!

After a very chilly sledding adventure.
The day after, we slept in, enjoyed coffee and conversation, then visited Cristina's brother-in-law and family. They have a gorgeous house they built themselves and two adorable little guys. We ate lunch, chatted, then went spearing. Different than ice fishing, spear houses are set up on a more permanent basis for the winter. The hole is a large rectangle, and one uses sucker fish or lures to bring great northerns in. We didn't see any big enough to actually spear, but if we did, one would aim and throw a big, heavy, pronged and barbed spear at the fish. It was also quite cozy and relaxing inside the little house. After catching no fish, we had dinner in town before I headed back to Decorah.

I picked up Steffen at the airport on my way through Minneapolis, and made it back to Decorah a little after 1am. A few Christmas packages from the family were waiting on my doorstep, and a few surprises from friends as well. I went to sleep fully relaxed from my vacation and full of love from family and friends.

I had a really great Christmas this year, and I feel so much more settled and content then last year this time. And while I'm not quite looking forward to 2013 yet, I'm growing confident that I can handle what it will bring, and have started to formulate some plans to make it what I want it to be. Hopefully I'll be better about posting about it because big things are afoot (and great things have passed these past few months - I'll try my best to catch you all up!)

Cheers and love to you, and best wishes for 2013!

No comments:

Post a Comment