Christmas in Minnesnowta

Christmas! This year we were far from family during the Christmas-New Years stretch but had a wonderful time with our Rochester family. My workplace threw a Christmas party in early December and it was really fun to see everyone – doctors, nurses, desk staff, and secretaries –  mingling in holiday garb.

The next week our friend Nicole came all the way from San Fran and we had a great time with her (hanging out at the Chateau Barnes & Noble before it closed, eating gelato at Stam, and dragging her to the residency Christmas party). It got even MORE fun when our friend Abby came from the East Coast to hang out. We had a mini-Mayo med school reunion. Of course all the family med residents enjoyed discussing their programs.

Alas, Nicole did have to go back to work eventually, and we… had to go to more Christmas parties! My wonderful Bible study group had a great Christmas party where we played 5 favorite things. Everybody brings 5 of the same thing under $5 and then we all draw numbers and work it out so that everybody gets 5 different things. Gifts this year ranged from fuzzy socks to lip gloss.

Last but not least we had our choir and handbell Christmas party. Chris successfully guessed the number of lights on the Christmas tree and won a set of coasters, and we enjoyed all a manner of tasty treats and good company. Here is a picture of the choir – as you can tell, they have a good time!

On Christmas Eve the clinics closed at 3 so Chris and I got to go home early. But not to bed… we played at the 11:00 service and tolled the hour (really at 12:25!) The next morning we Facetimed while we opened presents with family far away. Here is a Facetime selfie (may actually be from New Year’s):

Then we went to our friends Meni and Mario’s for lunch. We had steaks, DELICIOUS quinoa salad, asparagus, and many other delicacies – and cheesecake and flan for dessert.

The next week we again got off on New Year’s Eve early but I’m afraid we didn’t stay up very late. I fell asleep on the couch before the ball dropped in New York, so there ya go.  But on New Year’s Day we got together with our friends, some of whom share a Scandinavian history and others who don’t, for a real Scandinavian feast. On the menu: lutefisk, lefse, lingonberries, corned beef hash, Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, fruit and cookies!

Mario and Meni, who are from Chile, wisely asked, “Why do you get a piece of slimy fish and sing a song to it and then not eat it?” (Yes, we sing to the fish; here are the lyrics, if you must have them – http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/o_lutefisk_o_lutefisk.htm)

I didn’t have a good answer in the moment besides, “Traditioooon! Tradition!”. But if I had a chance to re-explain – I have to say that it is a chance to remember our history. Once our people had to eat nasty lye-treated codfish because they didn’t have enough salt or a refrigerator and they needed a way to preserve it so they would have something to eat when they were very, very hungry. And then they came to America, and now even people in Sweden don’t eat Lutefisk, because, thankfully, we live in an enlightened age when we can eat cod frozen right after it was caught and shipped to us (or better yet, fresh fish!)

We eat a spoonful of lutefisk to remember the starving times, because we are thankful for what we have – good, healthy food, warm houses, and loving families, both genetic and adopted.

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Fall Adventures Part 2 – Thanksgiving!

At the end of November we did something crazy. We packed up the dogs without their crates and took off on an epic cross-country road trip to Colorado. We stayed the night at a cheap motel in Des Moines… it was pretty dog-proof but it was also extreeeeemely sketchy. Thankfully nobody broke into our car and we made it safely to Colorado for lots of food, family, and fur.

On Sunday, we reunited with our Minnesota family (ironically) for some homemade Swedish meatballs. Here are the chefs doing the honors:

Chris whipped up three recipes worth of Alton Brown’s Swedish meatball recipe and that proved to be just enough for our hungry horde. We also played a lot of games and watched the snow fall. And took fun group pictures:

The next day, we headed to Denver to visit my dad’s parents and they took us to lunch at Lucile’s Cajun Cafe. Po’ boys, beignets, amazing pancakes, homemade relishes and jellies – this place is awesome!!! In the evening, we went out to eat at an awesome Greek place to celebrate my mom’s birthday.

The next day my grandparents came up and we did a tasty roast. On Wednesday, we had our “Denver Day” – we headed to an Air & Space museum in Denver and then an Avalanche game. I’ll confess, I was a little apprehensive about both being a little too much testosterone. But I was pleasantly surprised… I learned a ton at the museum about how airplane cockpits are set up… and how another Amelia Earheart completed the original Amelia’s flight just last year…. and how cool airplanes look when they are suspended from a hangar ceiling… And the Avalanche game was a rush!! It was hard to take my eyes off the ice!! It was a close game against the Black Hawks. I can see the appeal of hockey!

Thanksgiving. Granny and Uncle Dave made their way to us through a ridiculous amount of traffic, and we had a brined turkey and all the fixins. As we went around the table and talked about how thankful we were, I couldn’t help tearing up… I am so blessed by my wonderful family and being able to be with them this holiday season.

It took a long time to digest that Thanksgiving meal but we did manage to force ourselves and 3 dogs on a nice hike the next day up to the Devil’s Head fire look out. Yes, our dogs came up the stairs with us. Yes, it was hard to get them down safely.

We got to see some long-lost friends from Roch that night. They were kind enough to drive all the way to our Red Robin in Castle Rock when we got stuck in a nasty random hour long traffic jam on I-25. Ah, le traffic, I don’t know how to do it!

Our dogs had a great time in Colorado. They really enjoyed seeing their dog-uncle and aunt, Shad and Sofie, and running all over the national park. Everybody got along and there were no incidents (besides a few shredded Santa toys).

On Sunday we headed back and drove straight through… and we survived! Praise God for no lost dogs, illnesses, or car issues on this trip. We had a FANTASTIC time in Colorado. Up next… our holiday adventures!