Ahhhh Christmastime… in our first home. For the last 12 years my husband and I have had to divide our time between Montreal (where his family lives) and Ottawa (where my family lives), which meant lists, packing up presents, preparing and packing up food, schlepping presents back (and rearranging every closet to somehow find a way for everything to fit), etc. But this year, everyone came to us, and it was glorious!

Although a green Christmas was looming, it snowed enough on the 23rd to cover all the grass and coat the trees in ribbons of snow. Everyone arrived on Christmas Eve and, in typical traditional fashion, I helped my dad wrap last-minute presents, we enjoyed a ham dinner, and we had a gingerbread house decorating contest (I’d pre-made three graham cracker houses and icing, and we broke into teams and went at it, then posted pics of each house on Facebook so our friends could vote on the winner… this Martha wannabe came in last!). Christmas morning I woke after just six hours of sleep, put on my reindeer PJs, and started the prep work before everyone got up – whipped up a loaf of homemade French bread, lit up the tree, brewed the coffee, put on the fireplace channel (lol), lit up the presents (yes, some of them had light-up bows), put the letters from Santa in the tree (he left them in my office), dressed up the dog in his Santa suit, and put on Christmas music. We noshed on homemade cranberry blueberry loaf while we opened the gifts in our stockings first, and then moved onto the bigger stuff, one at a time in an orderly fashion to make present-opening last as long as possible. There were a few gift cards to be had, so I wrapped one for my mom in probably 20 different layers of “things,” from paper to napkins, Christmas socks, gift bags, newspaper, and more. I also made my dad embark on a scavenger hunt through the house, up and down the stairs, till he was led back to the tree and had to find his gift card hidden there. And all the while snow fell outside of our windows, big fat snow-globe flakes that look like they were cut from paper. Breakie was soft-boiled egg cups a la Dad, like every Christmas for the last 31 years, we went to mass, and then we played… Matt and I had Kinnect dart competitions while my dad and husband played actual darts on my husband’s new dartboard. More family came over while the 22-pound bird slowly roasted in the oven, and the ladies gathered in the kitchen to gab and chop veggies- potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and more. Boxing Day even more family came over and we ate, drank, and were merry, and that evening a bunch of my cousins and husband’s friends all got together with my boys (dad and Mike) to play hockey at a local arena, and my mom and I sat in the stands sipping on hot cocoa and visiting with the wives, girlfriends, families, and kiddies of the players.

And then, at 11am yesterday, everyone was gone. There were remnants of the days prior scattered about – pine needles on the floor, a full dishwasher, and piles of bedding in the laundry room (everyone offered to help but I insisted we just relax together right up until they leave and I’d take care of the clean up). And I was tired (exhausted in fact), but my heart swelled. It had been the perfect first Christmas in our new home, full of laughter and good tidings and plain old-fashioned fun. It wasn’t about the presents (even though I got new wine glasses and a new tassimo pod machine- woot!) – this year it really was about the memories and the time spent with one another.

And I can’t wait to do it all again next year!