Since we were spending Christmas in Little Rock with Brad's family this year, we celebrated a few days early with my family.
The Crain Family Christmas carries many traditions with it, and even has its own soundtrack. We had to modify things a bit, since the rest of my family would also be celebrating on the actual Christmas morning, but we all remarked how it actually did feel like Christmas was over after that. We found ourselves getting annoyed at the mall the next day when there were no after-Christmas sales to be found, forgetting that the rest of the world hadn't celebrated yet.
Christmas morning at the Crain house includes a very specific breakfast: mimosas, egg casserole and monkey bread. Brad and I ended up having this breakfast twice, cooking it again when we got to Little Rock. The rest of my family showed some self restraint and just had it once.
We held off on the traditional Christmas Eve pajamas and jewelry gift until the actual day. Same with the stockings - my mom sent mine with me. But we exchanged some gifts and had a nice Christmas dinner later in the day.
As was the case last year, every gift was Charlie's gift. He loves ripping paper. And climbing in boxes. He does not typically care what is in the box... until he realized one of his gifts was a tent! He squealed and climbed inside and had a blast playing with it the rest of the day. So did my sister's dog, Elvis.
Charlie scurried back when he realized more of 'his' gifts were being opened without him. I'm sure we would have all been exhausted if we'd had to unwrap our own presents without him.
A few hours later we took Charlie to downtown McKinney to see Santa Claus and get a picture. In retrospect, that was kind of a funny thing to do right after we opened gifts. Anyways, Charlie figured out what was going on a lot quicker this year and the tears and panic started immediately. I need to scan the pic so I can post it. It's hiiiilarious.
It ended up being a nice, warm 72 degrees that day. We sat out back in the sunshine that afternoon and I tried to remind myself it was, in fact, December. The next day was so warm I had nothing to wear - just sweaters! Since I left Richmond in a snow storm and came back to several inches of snow, my flip flops didn't make the luggage cut.
Charlie had a great time running around the back yard with the dogs, though. There was also a dog next door who had a lot to say.
The next day we went to Northpark to see the trains exhibit. Charlie has been getting more into trains and loved it. He likes to point out cars, trucks, trees and windows. And there were many in the exhibits.
After lunch at the zoo of a food court we hit up Nordstrom. Charlie was not going to sit in his stroller, no sir, and I now realize how easy it is to lose children in department stores. They slip through one rack of clothing and boom, they're gone. Between my dad and me, we could barely keep track of Charlie! He was on fire and thought it was all a very fun game.
My dad asked my mom later how I ever get any shopping done. Umm, the internet. That is probably the only reason I don't already have a story of losing my child in a mall or department store.
It was a really fun trip, full of good food and good times with my family. Charlie took quite a few dips in my mom's big bath tub. We even got to go back unexpectedly and spend one more night when mechanical difficulties in Little Rock meant we would have missed our connection to Richmond in Chicago. We rerouted and got to see my family again. Don't even get me started on the joys of flying in and out of Arkansas. What a nightmare.
I just looked through this post and realized (as usual) there are only Charlie pictures. I guess I know my family well enough that they'd rather not be on the blog in their PJ's and sans shower. I assure you, though, despite the pictures, Charlie did not celebrate Christmas alone! Or with only 2 dogs.
Oh, and just so your jeans can feel as tight as mine have been feeling, I wrote out our Monkey Bread recipe below. There are many different versions of Monkey bread (also called Gorilla bread) if you poke around online, but this is the one we've been using for years.
Crain Family Monkey Bread
Rhodes Rolls, 18 count, frozen (in the freezer section with the bread)
1 box butterscotch pudding mix (cook & serve - NOT instant)
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (we use pecans)
1/2 cup melted butter
Nonstick cooking spray (to grease the pan)
The night before you want to serve, grease a bundt pan with the cooking spray and layer the frozen rolls on the bottom. Sprinkle all the ingredients except the melted butter on top of the rolls. Drizzle butter over it. Cover with a tea towel and leave in a cool spot (inside the oven or microwave works) overnight for the rolls to rise.
In the morning, bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before inverting the pan.
If you really want to go all Crain style with it, serve with mimosas and some kind of ridiculously fattening/spicy egg casserole.