Oh Christmas – It’s our favourite time of the year!
Justin and I didn’t have much time to preparation for this special season, mostly because my first trimester was exhausting for both of us. I was always sick, and Justin – being the incredible husband that he is – covered for me, cooked, cleaned, and took care of all the other errands. We didn’t have time or energy to think about decorations, gifts, or plans. All we were trying to do up until December 17th was make it to the second trimester. At the time, nothing else meant more to us than that. Just like I had read, I started to feel more normal as soon as the first trimester ended. It was then that we looked around a realised that we wanted to make our home festive! We immediately went online and bought a tree, some decor, snow spray, and lights.
At about the same time we got word of two Christmas Markets in Qingdao. We had to work during the bigger one, but we made it to the smaller one. It was there that we bought three cute stockings and Christmas wall decor. I was so surprised at just how excited Justin was in the above stall at the market. He wanted to buy EVERYTHING, and his enthusiasm was encouraging. It made me feel excited about Christmas for the first time this year. We may not have been able to return to either of our homes, but at least we could make the home that we have here as festive as possible.
Also at the Christmas Market was a huge gingerbread house… Justin tried to take a bite of it. Smaller gingerbread houses were on display to be bought. This reminded us of how we made these last year while we were still in Texas – Gingerbread Houses (2012). That was fun!
Decorating the house was fun, especially after the tree arrived in the mail. It’s so easy to order just about anything online here. We have our parcels delivered to school, and it’s really exciting when they call us down to collect our goods! We made snowflakes for some of our glass sliding doors, and used snow spray to edge them off. They really do look pretty now, and I doubt we will want to clean them for quite a while! We figure that since we put up everything so late, we will just leave it up for an extra few weeks.
Our church services are held in a big fancy hotel, and going there on Sundays is like stepping back into the Western world. Clean, shiny, and oh so lovely smelling! We were thrilled to see a huge Christmas Tree in the lobby area of the hotel, so we posed to take pictures next to it.
We put the Christmas presents that we had received in the mail under the tree, and then started making plans to do our own Christmas shopping. As we have been on the road for most of the last four years, we haven’t really had the opportunity to buy each other loads of gifts. This year was not too different since buying gifts in China is pretty tough, but we finally had the chance to buy freely and make each other feel special. Again, Justin was especially excited about this, and it warmed my heart!
Even Baby Esser had tons of gifts under the tree this year. We may not have bought really expensive gifts, but we went ahead and wrapped them all separately and uniquely. It was kind of hard doing this as Justin and I practically inseparable… we went shopping together and had to make sure to stay in different areas by using text messages to monitor our movement. It was hilarious!
This year we decided to open our presents on Christmas Eve. Considering the time differences between Dallas, Florida, South Africa and China, we had to plan Skype-dates with all our close family members to ensure that we got to talk to all of them. Justin’s parents called us on our Christmas Eve, late in the evening. We opened two gifts before they called, and then all of them afterwards. We were like excited little kids!!! Enthusiastically we also opened baby’s presents, while we “awwww-ed” at all the cuteness that each gift contained. It was a very special evening for both of us, and our hearts were filled with love and gratitude!
In the morning we got up prepare a couple things for our brunch-date with The Mosby’s. I made fruit salad and scones. Thanks to my sweet friend Lanie, preparing the scones was pretty easy!
Our brunch turned more into a lunch, and to start things off we dug into the scones and sampled five kinds of South African jams made by Hillcrest Wine Estate. Pretty soon not a single scone remained, and we hadn’t even thought about the fact that there was still bacon, eggs with steak, fried potatoes, quiche, fruit salad and yogurt. We had to take a break between the scones and the next round of breakfast foods… but it didn’t help because immediately after eating we all had to move to the lounge to rest of full bodies while we watched “Elf”. This was the beginning of our food-induced coma!
Zach and Heather are like our family over here – they have been with us almost completely since March of 2011. It was lovely to spend Christmas with them – laughing, eating, and sharing this special day.
We have been so blessed this year. We are married and we got to have all of our closest family members with us, in a beautiful location, when we exchanged our vows. Next year we will have something that we have wanted for quite some time – a child. This was our last Christmas as Justin and Catherine. How beautiful that next year there will be three of us!! We’re excited to be adding a new member to this team in 2014.
We trust that you all had a wonderful Christmas!
We trust that you all had a wonderful Christmas!
Thank you for all of your support and love.