By K.J. Cardinal
Anna's first Christmas didn't disappoint, that's for sure. Her "holiday" really spanned from the 22nd to the 27th and she got to enjoy several parties, lots of family and tons of cool presents along the way.
On Saturday, we had the Cardinal side of my family down to our house in Hudson for a holiday get together. It was the first time nearly all of them had made their way down to visit us at our "new" house and the first time some of them met Anna so it was a momentous occasion on several fronts. Anyway, the party was a blast. We had TONS of food, lots of kids and countless laughs.
Getting together with the Cardinal side of my family is definitely one of my favorite things to do each and every year and I was glad that Anna got to experience her first one in the comfort of her own home. I'd really like to thank Ethan (and Billy & Kathy) for missing his hockey game on Saturday night so they could come down for the party. I was so psyched they came and got to stay late because it's not that often that we get together and it's always great when we do.
For that shindig, Meme, Papa, Auntie Tiff, Uncle Pete, Andrew, Aunt Kate, Auntie Sheila, Auntie Carol, Uncle Bill, Billy, Kathy, Samantha, Ethan, Kaeleigh (pictured w/ Anna above), Missy, Pat, Marissa, Jackson, Vicky and Emma were all here. When you throw in Angie, Anna and I, that made for 23 people...what a party!
On Sunday, Angie, Anna and I headed out to Ludlow to spend a few days with the Malaquias clan. We stayed at Angie's sister's house that night and it was great to hang out with Lisa, Ray, Ryan and JuJu. For those of you who haven't met JuJu, she has to be the cutest little girl I've ever seen. And, I'm so lucky that she likes me. After sleeping over on Sunday night, she woke up on Monday morning and the first thing she said was "Where's K.J.?" She's the best.
Anyway, on Monday (Christmas Eve) I went and took Angie's nephew Jaden sledding. We attempted to go to one hill, which was all ice, so we eventually ended up at the Ludlow Country Club. It was a lot of fun. Jaden's really turning into a great kid. He's super polite, funny and fearless on a sled. We had a blast.
Angie's family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve, so their big gathering was on Monday night. We usually wait until midnight to open presents, but her family was kind enough to agree to break from tradition slightly so Angie, Anna and I could get back home to Hudson at a reasonable hour.
Like usual, Vo Nezzie made tons of food for everyone to eat and we had lots of fun. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one unfortunate event of the evening. Everyone was getting ready to open presents and all the kids were sitting in the living room when all of the sudden, Jaden proceeds to projectile vomit all over the living room. He cleaned out the couch and the area rug. It wasn't necessarily funny, but once he was OK we all shared a good laugh.
We headed back to our house around midnight and got to take our time waking up on Christmas morning. Anna had a good night's sleep and we got up in the morning when Sammy's Dad dropped her off at our house. We all opened our gifts and then we got the best Christmas gift of all.
I was upstairs changing Anna when she proceeded to go into a giggling fit. It was so hilarious. I was able to call for Angie and Sammy and they came in to witness it too. Definitely the highlight of the day for us.
Once Anna stopped laughing, we headed up to Farmington to visit my family. It was great to have Sammy along for the trip up to N.H. She only comes up to Farmington every other year for the holiday, so it's always great when it's "our turn" to have her for Christmas.
I was really excited to give my parents their gifts. Pack Network got my parents a video iPod for all their help, Angie and I got them a sweet remote controlled dock for it and I also got my dad a membership at Farmington Country Club. Needless to say they loved everything.
As we've come to expect, Andrew was ridiculously cute when he showed up with Tiffany and Pete. He loved the Red Sox Mr. Potato head and the toy tractor (just like Papa's) that we got him, but his favorite toy was definitely the tent that my parents got him and the toy guitar that my dad got him. We had so much fun.
I got a bunch of great gifts too, but I really want to thank Katie for her gifts, they were definitely my favorite. Both gifts really came from a Counting Crows and Live concert we went to over the summer. The first was a guitar pick from David Immergluck (the Counting Crows lead guitarist) that Katie caught at the concert. She put it in a cool shadow box and fixed up an apparatus so it looks like it's floating in there. Her other gift was this picture frame that has pictures of me and Anna and it says "I don't need no one to tell me about heaven, I look at my daughter and I believe." It's the lyrics from Live's song Heaven. Both gifts Kater made and she definitely put a lot of time and thought into both. Thanks so much!
We stayed over three nights and last night Anna had another one of her giggle fits...this time for Meme. It was so cute. I have some great footage of it that I'll post soon, but this is by far the longest post that I've made, so I'll check out for now.
Be sure to check back soon for that video along with a new feature that I'll be launching on the blog soon called "The Cardinal Vault."