Christmas With The Family

Christmas Eve, Ian and I wrapped up the workday and threw our bags and what seemed like eighty dozen wrapped gifts in the back of the cars, hitting the road for my hometown of Columbia, South Carolina. There was no way I was missing Christmas Eve dinner -- it is a favorite. We always have crab legs and shrimp and the best bread for sopping up the flavorful juices from the shrimp dish Mom makes.

The whole fam was there -- Mom, Dad, my two sisters, and my brother-in-law. And the dinner was as delicious as always!

Our Christmas Day does revolve around some long-standing traditions:
+ We get dressed and ready for the day to open gifts (I've never, ever opened gifts in pajamas)
+ We have breakfast and wassail in the morning, and later we have appetizers for afternoon grazing
+ We take turns opening gifts and save stockings for the evening
+ Christmas night dinner is just like Thanksgiving -- turkey, stuffing, and all of the sides

My sister Laura (who you may know as The Reedy Review) got a great new camera from my parents! Perfect for documenting all of the fun changes in their brand new home.

Our family dog Tipsy took her favorite spot and watched the gifts being opened.

(This is them in 2011 ... how cute)

We had a great long morning of opening gifts and listening to Christmas music.

Ian and I brought this new dopp kit back for Dad from Italy and it smells positively heavenly. He loved it!

One of my gifts from Ian was a new 50mm lens for my camera, so I've definitely had a blast putting that to use!

For dinner, I made the cranberry sauce and Paula Deen's green bean casserole. It's definitely a new favorite.

Christmas is always a big day of celebration in our family, because it's also Mom's birthday!

For her birthday gift this year, Ian and I ordered her a Caroline's Cakes 7-layer caramel cake. It was all sorts of divine. Pure bliss. They overnighted it to us on dry ice from their bakery in Spartanburg, SC. They ship all over! The caramel cake is their specialty, and it's been featured on the Today Show, the Food Network, and Oprah's Favorite Things. 

After dinner we opened stockings ... with cocktails/mocktails!

On Friday, our extended family on Mom's side came in for another round of Christmas!

We loved every bit of our time together and Sunday sure came quickly. Now as we gear up for New Years Eve and 2014, I find myself in awe of how quick but sweet the year truly was.

Cheers to you and to a fantastic New Year for us all!
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