The week before Christmas, we were fully in festive spirit.
Dusty's family was coming into town soon, and we had decked the halls for Winter Wonderland!
We were bursting at the seams with holly jolly, so we just had to do something to celebrate all the joy that is christmastime.
What better than gingerbread houses?
Oh, the art of gingerbread house building. It's fickle, it's delicate, it's tasty!
Dusty and I were shopping at Target one night, and suddenly we found ourselves being led to the Christmas aisles like a dog on a leash. Only there was no leash, there was just pretty colors and ribbons and candies.
We saw this big gingerbread-house-making kit, and our eyes lit up.
Instead of buying the kit, though, we decided to just grab our own fixings! Graham crackers, frosting, candies, etc.
(Of course, it wasn't that easy -- at first I suggested making gingerbread, which confused Dusty, because he had only made gingerbread houses with graham crackers. Why do you think they're called gingerbread houses, Schanaker? I asked, incredulously. But, I mean, what can I say. He's a jimmy jon.)
In the end we stuck with the graham crackers for convenience and easier wall-building, and with our arms full of faux-gingerbread construction materials, we texted Colinoria and basically said, we have the goods to be architectural geniuses with frosting. you're coming over.
It's no mystery that this was a ridiculously fun time. The one surprise, though, was that gingerbread house-making is hard. It's not for the impatient or the faint of heart. You have to be precise, and earnest, and really focused. And you must have ample frosting. Otherwise (like Colin found out many times) your gingerbread masterpiece will cave in on itself, causing utter heartbreak and devastation.
I spent a lot of time dipping broken graham cracker pieces into the frosting for a mid-build snack.
We also had hot coffee with plenty of cream, which always goes well with sweets!
I put on a DVD of cartoon Christmas classics to play in the background (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman...and some super weird and creepy cartoon called Cricket on the Hearth that none of us ever want to think about again.)
Actually there were two surprises about this process: the boys were way more into it than us girls were.
I mean, Victoria and I were done probably a full hour before the boys were. Haha. Not that we were impatient or bored, because there was still plenty of candy and frosting on that table.
Dusty's house practically had a history to it, a storyline, with plot twists and character developments and all kinds of nonsense. His was the Father Christmas of gingerbread houses.
I mean, seriously, he made a sled for the front yard. And an ice rink. And walking stones. And Christmas lights. And a licorice log pile. And a candy cane doorway.
Colin ended up creating a rather convincing safe house for the elves, complete with "SOS" on the top.
It was the best.
Call me crazy, but I absolutely love a super messy fun table after a night of crafting or eating or whatnot. It makes me feel really happy and accomplished.
A few days later, Dusty and I decided to have our own Christmas morning tradition.
Dusty's family was coming in that Saturday, so we had to improvise and have our Christmas on a Friday! December 20th. I went into work late that day, so we could open presents together and, as always, go to IHOP.
We had a basement growing up as kids, which is where my brothers lived -- but our Christmas tree and the Christmas morning experience was always on the main floor, so we never had that tiptoeing downstairs to see Santa type of experience. The boys would occasionally sneak upstairs, but for me all I had to do was crack my door open, because my room had a full view of the living room!
I do remember one year though, when we decided to have Christmas in the basement. I don't remember why, but I remember it being so strange and fun.
Every year when we do our own little Christmas, I have gone downstairs, turned on all the lights, cleaned everything up and lit some Christmas candles, and then gone to wake up Dusty and have this kind of glowing moment at the top of the stairs.
Ah, what a lovely sight.
One of my favorites in the world. Christmas in apartment 813.
(Speaking of 813 -- Victoria gave us a little Christmas ornament of a key, with a cardstock tag on it with our address on it, to always remember this home. Tears).
We plop down in our pajamas, and always take turns opening presents.
We always get each other all kinds of little things, so we have lots to open and it's fun!
This year, Dusty wrote different "to"s and "from"s on every single package. Things like "To: Mac", "From: Cheese" and other pairings that are cute or romantic in some way.
Like Mary and Francis from Reign.
But then he threw in the worst one ever, because he knows how much I hate it.
Evangeline Lily and Fili the Dwarf....or in other words, the bogus elf and dwarf love story from the new Hobbit movie. I'm sorry, but no no no no no no no.
I think I ranted about this for a good hour after we saw that movie in theaters with Colinoria.
I still don't like to talk or think about it.
It infuriates me.
Luckily the wrapping contained the Jurassic Park trilogy, so all was forgiven!
He also got me my favorite book, The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, in hardcover -- and some really fun glitter OPI polishes (which inspired me to stop biting my nails).
We then got dressed up in some comfy sweaters to take goofy photos and head over to IHOP for breakfast!
Normally we'd go in our pajamas, but I had to work that day, so no pajamas for me!
I kept calling this his reindeer sweater, because I bought it for him for Christmas, and even though I know it's not a reindeer, it's still a reindeer sweater to me.
A very merry little Christmas indeed.