Christmas – A celebration of traditions

Technically I’m Jewish so growing up I never celebrated Christmas. At the core, I don’t follow organized religion, but I think everyone is allowed to have faith in whatever they want. However, for the past decade or so, maybe even longer, I’ve celebrated the holiday either with Tony’s family (4 years) or one of my amazing friend’s families who take me into their own for the day. I’ve always had fond memories of the holiday because for one there is never any school or work on Christmas. Also, I there’s presents and the surprise of giving and receiving. And most of all the food is awesome. Every family that I visited does Christmas a little different and I have never been disappointed. I love Christmas food! I’m partial on Thanksgiving (not a big turkey fan) but Christmas food no matter what people cook is always delicious!

Regret nothing

And don’t worry, I still celebrate Hanukkah, but that was a while ago and I was on vacation so I missed it this year. Although sweets and latkas can be eaten daily if you ask me.

On Christmas Eve, Tony and I spent it with his nephews and family. They all wear PJs and of course I had to bring my own. There was lots of great food and of course I was too busy eating to take photos. I also don’t really post photos of other people, unless I know they’re okay with being put on the blog, so lots of photos of me you’ll get instead!

Pjs and cats

The cats were definitely plotting something against me on Christmas Eve after this photo shoot.

Coffe

We started Christmas day with a nice blend of Coffee from Tony’s nephew and wife in our new Le Creuset mugs we got for ourselves when we visited the outlet last week. Visiting the Le Creuset store made me want to get rid of all our kitchen items and transfer our house into a beautiful red stoneware and cast iron heaven. But I decided I should not break my piggy bank yet. I do have the Dutch oven thanks to Tony’s parents and I love love it.

Table

While drinking up my coffee, I set the table. Tony’s mom does all the cooking, but we host so lay out, drinks and other easy tasks we take care of.

And then it was time for what I do best:

Christmas Run

It was 16 degrees outside and no one else would bear the cold but I loved it. I ended up running on a lot of roads since the sidewalks are frozen in parts and it can get exhausting hopping and sliding around. The sun was shining and the streets were empty. It was peaceful and a nice way to sink in a few quiet moments to myself before filling up my belly with food and laughs.

Christmas Meal

Tony’s mom serves up amazing food. We started with Italian soup, followed by home made manicotti, and then the finale beef bourguignon (I dare you to try to say that 5 times).

Jack Sleeping

While everyone ate, Jack took a little nap on the couch next to us all. Our other cat Oliver was hiding.

Cat Gifts

Tony’s mom cooked some of the meats (no spices) for the cats as well, so they had a mini feast of their own all week.

Liana and Jack

The star of the night was of course Jack.

My favorite elf. We opened up some great gifts. Things for the house we really needed. Other highlights include a road ID my brother got for both me and Tony. And an amazing weekend in Vermont, including the Vermont City Marathon from Tony!

Family Photo Tony, me, his parents, sister, my brother and father

Dad and Oliver

And just like that, before I knew it, the day was over and I found my dad and our other cat Oliver, that’s always hiding upstairs and never ever comes downstairs, napping with my dad! Maybe they’re kindred spirits?

Cat Cuddle

So of course, after everyone left, and was sleeping, I cuddled with the cats as well, my first and only time I got Oliver onto the first floor. He’s very skittish!

 

Do you celebrate Christmas either with friends or family?

What’s your favorite gift that you gave or received? I gave Tony a soda stream and I’m excited cause I’ll get to use it too =).

What mankind stole, nature took back until both learned to work together

This is what the High Line in NYC reminds me off. B I find the history and the creativity of this park one of my favorite parts of NYC or at least Manhattan. B Others, between locals and tourists agree as we all walk, sit and bask in the sun.

What is the high line? It is a 1-mile linear parkB on a 1.45-mileB section of the former elevated NYC subway tracks that ran along the lower west side.

Basically it went from this:

To this:

This is where my family and I spent a Sunday afternoon before my luxury Chinatown bus ride back to Boston.

But first Rocky and I had a walk once we both left the couch

We strolled for 1.5 miles before both our tongues were hanging from thirst.

B

We came prepared with snacks of course. B Walking 1.5 miles there and back is hard work.

We looks down upon the city

and forward

After conquering the 3 mile round trip walk, we made our way down to Chelsea Market. B I was originally set on finding Fro-Yo but got distracted by a bakery.

What started with a taste of the olive bread roll, ended with 4 more rolls including a rosemary yellow raisin fennel roll, a pumpernickel roll and a walnut oat roll. B I guess I started the carb-loading process a week early. B If you’re interested in more carb porn, I got the photo fromB this blog. B Needless to say I never found my froyo place.

A day of family and Azerbaijan food…

That was how I spent myB Saturday. However today was Monday and boy was that rough. B After a weekend of friends and family, sleep was hard to come by Sunday night. B I almost dosedB off at my desk today knocking my coffee over.

I’ve fully went into taper mode so no running today. B Instead after dragging my sleepy self off my desk, I did 10.5 Miles on the hands-less elliptical (crossramp?) for 55 minutes instead. B I was going to skip working out all together but I’ve become so used to this marathon training routine that not working out now feels foreign.

But back to Saturday. B We celebrated this guy’s birthday.

We went toB Caucasus Gadens, a AzerbaijanB restaurant. B Although a former member of the Soviet Union, the cuisine is closer to Middle Eastern/Turkish style than to eastern European.

We started with some salads.

Objor Salad – In case you’re curious beef tongue, carrots, horse radish with fried onions on top.

I passed on the beef tongue and opted for a Shepherd salad

Kharcho – Traditional Georgian soup made with pieces of lamb, rise, dill, garlic, tomatoes, and celery. B Tony and IB splitB the soup until he dripped some into my eyeball, I got cranky and that was the end of that.

The entrees came and we all got busy with eating of our own and each other’s plate.

My brother and his beefB stroganoff

I sat on the boys’ side of the table. My brother, me, some smelly kid I’m dating (JK) and my uncle.

Although we both live in Boston now, I don’t see this guy often enough <3.

I got the Lamb kabobs

Tony got the chicken kabobs and we had a glorious plan of sharing. B I then took all the leftovers and had a great second meal on the bus, but that’s a different story.

After our lunch we took a walk and played with the duckies in Prospect park. B It what cool New Yorkers do.

It was 60 degrees but my mom didn’t get the memo and I guess in her mind and jacket was still in Siberia.

I found some sleepy duckies that I later woke up

They were a little camera shy and ran away from me. However, Tony and I love photos!

We wrapped up family day by having some pastries from a random Italian bakery at my Grandmother’s house and coffee.

Yes the tiramisu cup was amazing. B However, the other pastries were nothing to write home about.

Overall a perfect day of Family dining, walking and more eating. B Afterwards Tony and I went out to visit some of my high school friends. B I found myself somehow staying up til 3AM which is way past my Boston/Marathon training bedtime but well worth it. B I am quite a lucky gal 🙂

How do you spend time with your family? B Do you live close to your parents? B Mine are a 5 hour drive away so I don’t see them often enough. B Tony’s are upstairs of our apartment and once we move to our new hour will be a mile away.