Well, first of all, Christmas is over. It’s bittersweet—sadness that it’s over, yet also relief. Because let’s be real, Christmas isn’t just one day. In actuality, it’s a whole month of celebrating.
Christmas is… Friendsgiving.
My Christmas started at the beginning of the month for us with our annual Friendsgiving/Christmas dinner with my college friends, which consists of lots of delicious food, ugly Christmas sweaters (see below) and a fun little game of Rob Your Neighbor, which can get quite ruthless with my friends. We also played a fun new game Tyler found called Utter Nonsense, which is like Cards Against Humanity but you have to use accents, it’s hilarious! Also, I discovered to my dismay that I’m terrible at accents.
Christmas is… holiday concerts.
The next day I attended my little sister Seika’s first show choir concert at her new school, Villa Duchesne. They may only be teenagers, but man those Villa girls can sing.
Dubbed the “FRYsco Melt,” a double cheeseburger topped with spicy fries, 1000 island sauce and American and Swiss cheese. No, I did not have a heart attack while eating it but I think I died and went to heaven.
Unfortunately, traffic on the way to the concert was horrendous and parking was even worse so we ended up missing the first half of the concert, which happened to be For King and County’s segment and the whole reason we wanted to go to the concert in the first place. We were bummed, but we had never seen Casting Crowns in concert before and they were pretty good.
Our last holiday concert was the St. Louis Symphony’s John Williams Tribute at one of my favorite and most beautiful St. Louis concert venues, Powell Hall.
Yes, there were Star Wars characters in attendance. Yes, they played the Star Wars theme song and it was awesome.
Christmas is… much-needed girl time.
The holidays continued throughout the month with three girls-only events in one week… it was amazing! First up was my annual wrap party with my Hallmark girls, a tradition we started six years ago and I’m so glad we’ve continued to do it every year!
The girls week continued with a happy hour with my former ACS co-workers at my favorite—Mission Taco, followed by a chill girls night with my college friends. We were going to be super festive/adorable and make Christmas ornaments… but we decided to just relax and order pizza instead. It was PERFECT.
Christmas is… no time for the gym.
This was also around the time my diet and exercise routine flew out the window. No joke, until last night, the last time I had actually ran and worked out at the gym was Dec. 13.
I went once last week and all I had the energy for was the elliptical, no weights or running. I’ve somehow managed to keep off the weight I’ve lost over the past two months though, so I’m pretty excited about that. We are planning to go to Louisville this weekend for New Year’s though, which means lots of beer, bourbon and hopefully good food so we’ll see where I’m at after that.
Christmas is… stout season.
The weekend before Christmas was all about beer. Our friends Zach and Anna, who are actually heading to the frozen tundra of New Hampshire this week, were in town so we had a jam-packed weekend full of delicious beer planned with them. Saturday was Nightmare Before Christmas, an annual event at iTap featuring “big and scary beers” AKA dark, boozy stout beers full of flavor.
They had special tappings of CBS and Vanilla Abraxas (my favorite of the day), and quite the selection, including my second favorite of the day, Parabajava.
Afterwards we went to Shake Shack for the first time, which was totally worth the hype and the wait. I got a single Shake Shack burger and I regretted not getting a shake, but I got to try some of Tyler’s coffee shake and it was quite tasty.
Pro tip: If you don’t feel like waiting for a table to open up (the place is busy 24/7), get your food to go and walk down to the iTap in CWE. You can also download their app and order your food ahead of time!
The next day we had all planned on going to 4 Hands for their release of Volume 1, Bona Fide and BA Bona Fide. Our friends ended up bailing on us, but Tyler still wanted to go so I bucked up and braved the cold (wasn’t too bad that day) and waiting in line with him for an hour and a half. We regret nothing.
Afterwards we met our friends Zach and Anna for even more beer (and food) at Cugino’s. Then we decided to go to our third iTap of the weekend, the one in Chesterfield this time, for the tapping of Zach’s award-winning home brew, Galaxy Gravy, before seeing the new Star Wars movie for the first time. I don’t care what anyone says, I thought it was great. Were there some flaws? Yes. Was it still entertaining? Yes.
Christmas is… eating LOTS of good food.
I’ve already mentioned lots of yummy food in this post, but by far our best meal this month was at Reed’s American Table. We went for the first time a month ago for my friend’s birthday, and we all loved it so much we decided to do it again for a Christmas get together.
The first time I went we all shared an immaculate spread of cheese, Tyler and split the brussel sprouts, and I had the fried octopus for my main entree, complete with chorizo and garbanzo beans. The second time we repeated the first two steps again, but this time I got a strip steak with fingerling potatoes and a creamed spinach. Both times were phenomenal, and both times I wondered if the brussel sprouts were indeed laced with crack because they were so damn good.
From left to right: Tyler’s fancy Busch beer at Reed’s, my friend Lauren adorning an ornament she pulled off a wreath behind us at Boogaloo, a delicious Manhattan my friend Mook made for us at his house in Maplewood before dinner.
Our friend Lauren also made these adorable ornaments for us, a bear for Tyler and an owl for me with our names and the year on the back:
It was so adorable! That talented lady/artist/fashionista friend of mine is also making me not one, but TWO DRESSES for our trip to Louisville this weekend! I had originally asked her to make me this dress for New Year’s Eve, since I have never actually been out for NYE EVER IN MY LIFE, I wanted to wear something fancy:
And not only is she making that beautiful dress for me, but she just texted me today saying she is also going to make me one with a red and black buffalo plaid print on it, because she figured I could use another outfit for Kentucky. (!!!) I love having talented friends!
Christmas is… sadness, too.
As much as I love sharing all the joy and happiness of Christmas, I’d be remiss if I did not mention the sadness that comes with it for me. Dec. 20 marked six years since my dad passed away.
That might not seem like a long time, but in that time I’ve gotten married, bought a new house and changed my job twice, while my sister has been even busier and graduated college, got married, bought a house and had her first daughter.
That’s a lot of major milestones in our lives he’s missed, and it’s why with every happy moment I have, there’s always a trace of sadness that comes with it because I know my dad doesn’t get to be a part of it.
This year has been particularly hard because Tyler’s uncle Jimmie, who was the pastor of our wedding, is also battling cancer, and it is all too familiar. He retired this year after pastoring his church for 19 years, and while I only got to hear a few of his sermons, I knew God had given him a gift.
We attended the Christmas Eve service at Jimmie’s church with him and other members of Tyler’s family, and as we sat in the last pew in the back of the church, I kept staring out the window at the beautiful snow falling on the ground, coming down in big, fluffy flakes. It was all I could do to not burst into tears right then and there.
And if I told you I was brave and didn’t shed any tears, I would be a liar.
Any and all prayers/good vibes/positive thoughts for Jimmie and his family would be much appreciated at this time.
Christmas is… Festivus for the rest of us.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in the past six years since my dad has passed away, my dad’s side of the family has gotten together twice on Festivus, which, if you don’t know what that is, watch this. It couldn’t be more fitting for our family, though. With this sarcastic bunch, the “airing of grievances” part of Festivus comes very naturally to most of us. But all jokes aside, it’s amazing to see how much our small little family, which used to consist of just seven people, including my sister and I, our dad, my cousins, aunt and grandma, to now nearly triple that number, and how it continues to grow every year.
From left to right: Tyler’s secret Santa did well with his new Star Wars toys (that went to his office); my sister enacting her best RBF (a family trait); my cousin Rachel holding the newest member of our family, little Dawson, and simultaneously yelling at my dog while her other son hides in the corner from a family photo. Unfortunately, these are the only pics I took of the Taylor Family Christmas, but don’t worry, my cousin took some professional group shots. 🙂
Christmas is… being with friends and family.
After my family’s Christmas, I went to my friend Andy’s house in Soulard to see his sister and one of my old college pals, Mallory, and her husband Matt who were in town from Albuquerque. Another one of my favorite things about the holidays: Getting to see friends who are in from out of town! It was so great catching up with her, and tonight I get to see my friend Mark and his wife Jade who are in town from Seattle!
And, as I mentioned before, our friends Zach and Anna are our soon-to-be newest out-of-town friends, since they are heading to New Hampshire for the next stint in Anna’s traveling nurse gig. They spent the last six months in Springfield, Mo., which was close so we still got to see them quite a bit. But New Hampshire is a bit farther away, so we might not get to see them as much anymore. They were in town one last time for Christmas before heading out, so we invited them over on Christmas Eve, after we went and saw Star Wars for the second time for our annual Christmas Eve movie with Tyler’s family—and yes, it was still awesome the second time.
Tyler and I also decided to open our gifts to each other, since we typically go over to his mom’s first thing Christmas morning. He got me a new pair of riding boots that I have not stopped wearing since it’s so dang cold out, another pair of adorable gray booties, plus some sweaters from Banana Republic… he does such a great job of picking out gifts for me, especially when it comes to clothes! I’m one lucky gal.
I got him some BCS glasses made out of some of his BCS bottles, which were specially made by new favorite company, Twinkle Brews. It was his idea, I just surprised him by following through with it. I also got one of his Madagascar bottles turned into a delicious smelling candle, which is Twinkle Brews’ specialty. The owner, Mollie, who is awesome, posted the photo of the glasses she made for me, saying how she wanted to keep them for herself:
Above all else, Christmas is… about Jesus, duh!
How could I have a whole post about Christmas and not mention the reason for the season, our Lord and Savior, the one I lean on the most to get me through the stress and sadness of the holidays, and the one who lifts me up to remember the joy and happiness of Christmas, the birthday boy himself: JESUS! Thank you Lord for all of my blessings, to remind myself the reason I’m “stressed” is because I have so many amazing friends and family in my life to share my time with, and for giving us all the gift of you.
And that’s a wrap on my month of Christmas festivities! We’re ending the year with a bang… I can’t wait for our trip to Louisville this weekend with our cousins for my first time on the bourbon trail! I also kind of can’t wait for my social life to calm down a little bit in January. 🙂 Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!