Wednesday, December 26, 2012

First Christmas

This Christmas was one of many firsts for us: the first Christmas we've been away from our families, the first Christmas in Nunavut and the first Christmas we've shared as husband and wife. A lot of pressure for one day - but it was one that was filled with love and the creation of new memories.

It was really hard being away from home for the holidays - much, much harder than I anticipated it would be. We kept busy and as Jeff says, as long as we have each other, Christmas is always going to be a good one. :)

Christmas Eve was supposed to be work days for both of us, but a blizzard blew into town the night before and everything was closed (yay!). Looks like Mother Nature gave us her own gift of an extra day off work. We lounged around the house for a while and then bundled up and walked to the house next to ours and we watched Arthur Christmas (great Christmas movie for the family) with the neighbours and their kids. A lot of hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies were also consumed! A cozy afternoon while the blizzard blew all around us.

We made the trek home (it was much easier going than coming because the wind was against us - and it's hard to walk in 80 km/hr winds!) and made a Christmas Eve vegetarian feast for dinner - such good Catholics, aren't we? A tofu roast with cranberry and hazelnut stuffing wrapped in puff pastry, roasted rosemary sweet potatoes, spicy green beans, buttery mushrooms and roasted red peppers. I had tried my hand at Jeff's grandma's no-knead dinner rolls for our dinner party the following night, but we stole a couple for our dinner because they were so good.
In my family, we normally do all of our Christmas activities on Christmas Eve - generally a big dinner, church and then presents afterwards. So, to recreate this year's Christmas Eve, after our dinner we turned on the Christmas music channel and Skyped with my family while opening gifts/watching them open their gifts from us. It was almost like we were there - and we tried to drag it out as long as possible but they had to leave because they were going to church. We always join them for Christmas Eve mass, so that was another pang of homesickness to the heart - especially since it's the church we got married in just a mere 10 months ago, and we haven't been back since.

Since we were already on a gift opening kick and I was feeling pretty down, Jeff said we could open more presents and save the big ones from his family and Santa for Christmas morning. Even though we had said numerous times that we weren't getting each other gifts, a few still managed to sneak through and ended up under our tree. Jeff had asked one of the ladies in town to knit me a traditional winter hat when he saw someone wear one he liked a couple months ago. It's kind of like a knitted toque in black with a pink trim a big pink rose in the middle. It's very cute, and very warm! I had won an iPod at my company Christmas dinner but I wouldn't let Jeff have it until Christmas, so he got to open it and load it up before we went to bed. I also got him a game called Cards Against Humanity - an offensive, adult version of Apples to Apples (his favourite game). It was crass and horrible...and right up his alley. We ended up playing it right then and there and that cheered us both up!

Christmas morning came bright and early and I wanted to make it special for Jeff, so I asked his mom to send recipes for the Christmas dish they have every Christmas morning (called the Wifesaver!) so we could feel like we were at his parents' house. So I prepped some monkey bread for two and popped a Wifesaver in the oven, and Christmas morning started off with the house smelling sooooo good! Of course, with the blizzard for a few days, I didn't have all the ingredients on hand so we made a Nunavut version of it - translation: substitute what was in our pantry/fridge for the things we didn't have in the original recipe. It's the thought that counts, right? :) Thankfully it tasted close enough that Jeff said it was just like being at home on Christmas morning. 

We fired up Skype again (what would we do without Skype??) and shared Christmas morning with Jeff's family - watching everyone open the presents we sent, and opening all the presents we received. Our favourite gift by far was a recordable storybook that we were sent - where each member of the family (including the dog!) recorded a message for us on each page. It was SUCH a great gift and of course, made me cry. Jeff won't admit it, but I'm pretty sure he got sniffly after we went through it! We stayed on Skype as long as we could just to feel like we were closer than we actually are, but eventually we had to sign off so the rest of the day could happen. It's a bittersweet thing to Skype - on the one hand it's so good to see and hear everyone and it makes us feel so close, but oh the other hand it invokes such a strong feeling of homesickness afterwards because we miss everyone so much more when we sign off.

As the morning went on, we prepped for our Orphan Christmas and there was a lot of baking, chopping, cleaning, cooking...I feel like I spent the whole day on my feet! We took a quick break in the afternoon to drop off some baked goods/presents to the neighbours and stayed for a quick game of Kerplunk (fun!) with their 4 year old. Then we Skyped with Jeff's cousin and her family because they were hosting Christmas dinner and we got to see more of his family and even his grandma! It was a needed break before we came back to the hustle of more party prepping!

There was some worry that people wouldn't be able to come because not all the roads had been plowed and trucks were snowed in, but shortly after 5pm, we had a full house and most of the food was ready/plated. Baker Lake even gave us a gift - and that was in the form of a water truck in the middle of the afternoon (I was shocked because I didn't think they'd be running on Christmas), so we didn't run out of water all day!! There was a slight concern that the sewer truck didn't come/hadn't come since last week, but we figured if the water stopped running we'd just go next door! Benefits of knowing your neighbours really well. :)

I was still trying to finish up a couple of things so I didn't get a chance to take pictures of the incredible spread we had, but here's the menu: turkey with stuffing, honey dijon glazed ham, mashed potatoes, cheesy potato casserole, brussel sprouts, glazed carrots, a mountain of dinner rolls, lots of gravy and cranberry sauce. Not to mention appetizers: prosciutto, cheese, pate and goat cheese with a variety of crackers and sweet gherkins, and desserts: peppermint chocolate cupcakes and gingerbread cake with cream cheese icing and cranberries. Needless to say, we have so much food left over that even after I begged people to take food with them, our fridge is still overflowing. We'll be eating leftovers for weeks...Jeff decided to start helping with the leftovers by having a cupcake for breakfast today!
All in all, we had an action-packed Christmas full of laughs and good times. We may not have been at home with our families, but we are so appreciative of everyone trying their hardest (and succeeding) to include us in everything that was going on and making us feel like we were right there too. We're also so happy to have made such wonderful friendships in the few short months that we've been here and were glad to have been able to share our Christmas with such great friends. It's hard being far away from home during a time when you should be with your family and loved ones, but we're thankful for our new family that we've made and hope everyone had as enjoyable a Christmas as we did.

Love to everyone, for making our first Christmas such a memorable one.

Lily & Jeff

1 comment:

  1. I was in the same boat Lily all I can say is Skype is such a life saver! It helped me feel as if I was right at home with my family even though I wasnt there