Christmas is one of our biggest holidays in our house. Trying to organize Christmas between two sides of a family is challenging enough, but throw in a few golden retrievers and a photographer and the hectic nature of our holiday preparations becomes quite an undertaking. With my grandmother finally moved in to her new community, we were very thankful for the flexibility of shuttling her to and from North Versailles compared to the familiar rigor of transit between Cumberland and home. As usual, we decorated our tree in conjunction with some Captain and Cokes and cookie baking:

Another famous Smarto tradition is our Christmas Eve Surf’n’Turf (or as I affectionately describe as the Glutton MegaFest), where we load up on shrimp, crab legs, and filet, and cook a massive but simple dinner on Christmas Eve before opening gifts. I think this was our 5th year of the tradition or so, and we are starting to incorporate the Strip District in our food procurement odyssey. I love having access to Pittsburgh, and the seafood at Wholey’s always seem fresh (trying to forget that the nearest ocean port is about 5 hours away). Three cheers for infrastructure, I suppose. 🙂

I got to spend some time with my mom’s side of the family, my dad’s side, and my cronies. I seemed to pack a whole lot of moving, eating, drinking, and giving/receiving gifts in to a short 5 day window. I also attended the funeral of a friend of the family from back home in Cumberland, which was bittersweet in how it marked the end of a long battle with cancer. But in a bit of a dual blessing in disguise, the trip to the cemetery gave me a chance to visit the grave of my grandfather, as well as gave us a chance to spend some time with Joann and family after the services.

Christmas seems more different with every passing year. Decorations and shopping seem more troublesome, but time with family and friends seems more valuable, so despite how adult I felt this week, I still enjoyed the child-like appreciation of Christmas, complete with cookies, fireplaces, and family. New Years is around the corner 🙂