Glimpes of our Christmas Season

Merry Christmas season! Our Christmas traditions are a little bit different this year. Daniel and I are preparing to head to New Zealand! We leave tomorrow, and it's my first international trip!! Some close friends of ours moved to Christchurch a year ago, and we thought what better excuse to travel. I am not looking forward to the long flight (14 hours, yeesh), but I am so eager to explore a new country that seems a world away, and spend time with our friends. So you can expect posts about our outdoor and food adventures, and my struggle to create a capsule wardrobe that works for travels from 35 degree Pacific Northwest to summertime in the southern hemisphere... I'm hoping I packed what I need!
In the mean time I thought I'd share some of our Christmas festivities (and food) before we depart.

It's our fourth married Christmas, but our first year with a real Christmas tree! We went to a sweet tree farm nearby and Daniel had too much fun cutting down our tree.
We went to the tree lighting in Canby, where we live. It seemed like a good chunk of the town was there and it was delightful. Tree lightings are always special to us because Daniel proposed to me under the giant Christmas tree on our college campus. 
We had a raclatte night at my in-laws. If you've never done raclette, you absolutely must check it out. It's this great social meal where you gather around a grill and melt cheese and warm fancy meats. We failed to take family pictures, (although I did get this one of Scooter) but we had a great time. 
My sister and I went to JJ Heller's Christmas tour. JJ has been one of my favorite musicians for about 7 years. She sings really sweet and gentle songs full of truth and encouragement. Last year she released a Christmas album that I just loved, so Taylor and I jumped at the chance to see her live. We had amazing seats and I am so glad to add JJ to the list of my favorite musicians I've seen live. 
We had Christmas at my mom's, and I kept forgetting it wasn't actually Christmas day! The fire was going, the kids played with new toys, there were snuggles, a Christmas Story and Elf played, and the fire was going. It was a great day. I made this roasted veggie dish, a cinnamon pie, and Taylor and I prepared this vegan  gluten free chocolate pretzel pie (YUM).
And of course there's cookie day, our annual tradition at my Grandma's. It's one of the best days of the year. 
All the cookies were scrumptious. Mel's baclava is always one of my favorites. I made the dark chocolate cookies with the candy cane kisses and white chocolate drizzle (recipe)
We got together with the Tews to exchange gifts and enjoy chinese food and watched Muppet's Family Christmas. We are Muppet people. Here's Daniel and I in front of their Christmas tree. 
 The next day we had Christmas with my dad at my sister's place. It was a lovely time and it is so fun to see little ones open up presents. I get pretty excited about checking out their new toys with them, too.
Daniel had to work two more days than me (his school district is hardcore!) so I spent a couple more days with my sister and her family. It was lovely to spend some time making play-dough gingerbread, fighting lego x-wings and walkers, going Christmas shopping with my sister, and watching festive movies. 
It's been an amazing US Christmas season, and I can't wait to experience a Kiwi Christmas! 
I hope this holiday season blesses you! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 

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