Sunday, December 30, 2012

A West Coast Christmas

This Christmas we spent the holiday with Joel's family in Northern California. It was the first time we've spent Christmas with his family since we've been married, so their traditions were all new to me. In Brazil, most people celebrate the 24th of December more than Christmas Day. On Christmas Eve everyone came over to Maggie's house for food and games. We ate feijoada, exchanged Secret Santa gifts, talked and enjoyed the night. At midnight we had a special visitor...

and he gave me an extra special present. 

We woke up our niece, Maya, so she could sneak a peek at "Santa." Maggie wants to make this a new tradition for all of the grandchildren so she went all out at bought a Santa suit for Joel to wear. Maya was actually scared of him and hid in the hallway, but the next day she went on and on about how she saw Santa. A few days later she was playing on my phone and saw this picture of Joel and I kissing. She looked at me in complete shock and said, "OOOHH! I'm going to tell Tio Caco (Joel)! What were you thinking?!" Sassy little six year-old. Thank goodness she didn't really understand what she saw, but I fear this may have tainted her idea of Santa Clause. 

Miss Maya on Christmas morning

We got to be a part of a very special gift this Christmas. Joel's dad passed away last December, so Joel was able to do his temple work this month. There is a very special spirit as you go through the temple for a family member. We are so happy.

And, as we seem to always do when we travel, we ate and ate and ate.

Going out to eat is always a fun excuse to get together with family and friends. Unfortunately, I got very sick one night, which ruined our plans to visit more family and friends over in East Bay, but hopefully we will return soon. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oh, Christmas Tree

The Castros got their first Christmas tree! 

We went to a lot to buy a fresh, table-top-sized tree but it was actually much more expensive than this fake one (welcome to New England) we found at Target. We're thrilled to finally have our own tree. Please notice that we did not have anything to hang the ornaments with so they're hung right on the branches. Very classy, indeed.

Our 2012 ornament is in honor of our first Christmas in New York City.
See 2011 & 2010

One of my favorite memories will be walking home from work through the Rockefeller Center and down 5th Ave before the annoying tourists flooded the city. There are more tourists in NYC in the month of December than the entire summer. It's a mad house! We're still looking forward to going into the city during the next few weeks, but there's nothing like the last week of November in Manhattan. All of the Christmas decorations and markets are up, and you get to stroll through the streets like you have the city all to yourself.  It'll make you want to wrap your arms around this twinkle-lit island and give it a hearty squeeze.