Texan in Norwich

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A (White) Texas Christmas

I’m back in Norwich now playing catch-up now on the Christmas posts… I’m not very good at this, am I?!

On Christmas Eve, my extended family, who all live nearby, came over to have dinner and exchange presents. We do secret santa for the adults, and I had drawn my Uncle Rick. I knitted him an awesome scarf, if I do say so myself. Here he is with it and his silly son, Payson.


I received an amazingly warm coat from my grandma, which has come in really handy in all this snow!

On Christmas Day, we had (gluten free and vegan) pancakes for breakfast, then my sister came over and we exchanged gifts. I am now the proud owner of not one, but TWO animal sweaters (a fox and a panda, thank you very much). We had tamales for lunch, which is a sort of Mexican/Texan and family tradition. Then for only the second time in my life, we had a white Christmas!

Cleo in the snow

Our dog, Cleo, just as it started snowing.

Snow in Grapevine

Christmas Eve is always the party day in my family, so Christmas Day is very relaxed and lazy. We played some board games, watched some movies, and enjoyed being inside during the cozy Christmas snow.

A few days after Christmas, my friends from high school came over and we had our annual Christmas White Elephant Exchange. I know people call this game different things, but this is where everyone brings a cheap/gag/regifted gift and we take turns opening them and stealing them from each other. This year I ended up with Anne Heche’s biography and James got a box of magic tricks. Last year I got some Justin Bieber magnets and a thing you put in your toaster to burn the Virgin Mary into your toast, so this year was an improvement! We’ve been doing this since 2007, our first Christmas in college.

P1020568Not the best picture, but oh well!

The week of Christmas, as you can see, is pretty much the same every year. Pre-Christmas outing with my family, Christmas Eve with my extended family, Christmas Day eating tamales and relaxing with my immediate family, and then a White Elephant Exchange with my high school friends. There’s something very comforting about coming home every year for Christmas and knowing all these events are waiting for me. It’s probably my favorite week of the year.



Grapevine Main Street and Texas Tenors

Every Christmas when I come home, we have a Christmas outing with my parents, sister, and James. Until this year, we’ve gone to ICE, which is basically a huge warehouse with holiday themed ice sculptures. It was pretty neat for a few years, but last year no one really enjoyed it. Once the novelty wears off, it’s just a really cold, sparkly room. So this year, we decided to go see the Texas Tenors at an historic theater on the Main Street of our town. No one really knew what it was or who they were, but it sounded musical and Texan-y, so why not. Also Main Street Grapevine is really lovely this time of year. We arrived early to walk around in the lights and explore the little Christmasy shops.

Main Street GrapevineMain Street GrapevineMain Street Grapevine

After wandering around for a while, we went into the Palace for the show.

Palace Theater

Boy, were we in for it. The Texas Tenors, we learned, were three hat wearing Texas singers who had come 4th on America’s Got Talent a few years ago. They told us about being on America’s Got Talent a few times, but just in case we didn’t understand words, they brought a screen down in the middle of the concert so we could see clips from when they were on the TV show. They weren’t big on subtlety.

During the show, in addition to the America’s Got Talent video, the following things happened: an obscene amount of winking, about 6 costume changes, the audience stood for the singing of Proud to Be an American, a guitar played while one of them read from the Bible, not one but TWO plugs for two unrelated charities, picking older women out of the audience to fawn over them, and a lot of rehearsed fakey banter. It was obnoxious, sanctimonious, and phony, but this also made it hilarious and fun. My family had a great time, but probably not in the way the “tenors” intended.

At Texas Tenors

Now, don’t get me wrong. Most of the things they did aren’t actually bad. Reading from the Bible, supporting charities, being patriotic, all fine and good things. But it’s absolutely offensive when it’s done specifically to manipulate and elicit an emotional response fromĀ  your audience. The whole thing was shameless and exemplified one of my least favorite aspects of American culture. The music was actually really good, so if they had just stopped talking and sang, I would have no complaints!

Also, if you’re going to have a cowboy hat, you’d better wear it, not hold it over your heart for 90min. And real Texas men don’t wear sparkly vests.

I think we’re gonna have to come up with a new family outing next Christmas.

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Back in Texas

Well, here we are! Texas! The weather when we arrived was beautiful (70F / 20C) and sunny. It was like transporting into another season.

Grapevine Lake

The first thing we did when we got here was throw our coats, hats, gloves, and scarves in the closet not to be used for about 2 weeks! We did need them eventually, but really enjoyed a little warm break.

For the past three Christmases, my mom, sister, grandma, and I have all tried to get together for a Christmas baking day. We’ve never actually done it. The first year I couldn’t come, the 2nd year it was just me and my mom, and this year we thought my grandma wouldn’t make it. She ended up being able to drop by for a little bit with my 8 year old cousin, and we had a really nice (and messy) time. We make lots of sweet treats and pack them up to give as gifts to friends and coworkers.

Sister and I baking

Sister and I baking

P1020422My grandma and cousin, Payson on baking day! Also a little cameo from our dog, Cleo, and my sister peeking in the background.

Christmas BuckeyesThese were the big hit of baking day. The recipe is here, and they are gluten free and vegan (I left out the bacon in the recipe). These were SO good! I’m making some more for a party tonight.

I have to say, baking day was a big success this year. We had a few people who received boxes ask for more, and then for the recipes. And it was a lot of fun being silly with the ladies in the family (and James), and making a huge mess of the kitchen.