As far as I know, neither Andreas nor I have Irish roots but we cannot deny our indisputable fascination with the country. Our family has yet to visit the Emerald Isle but given the chance, we would be on a plane headed over the Atlantic in a heartbeat. Is there any sound more lovely than the lilting melody of an Irish accent? Oh, to spend the day traipsing around crumbling castle ruins and soaking up the breathtaking beauty of a lush, green, countryside or craggy, windblown coast. And truthfully, a good part of our fascination probably centers around the music. On road trips, we spend hours blasting this song on repeat and when Alistair is in his jolly jumper, there’s nothing like some good Irish music to get him bouncing. My research on an Ireland trip has officially commenced. Now if only our bank account would agree with my plans…
The other day, I took Alistair out for a walk in his jogging stroller. Usually, the instant his five point harness snaps shut, his eyes close with equal ferocity and he’s out for the duration of the stroll. But this time, his baby blues were open wide in amazement. Birds, trees, cars and tall buildings – these are pretty spectacular sights for someone who has previously only been able to see as far as his feet.
This time last year, my husband was standing on a rocky beach in White Rock, waiting to dash into the freezing Pacific Ocean for an annual “Polar Bear Swim.” My family and I stood a few feet away from a swimsuit clad crowd who were busy dancing around, trying to stay warm while waiting for the signal to dive in. A horn sounded without warning and confusion reigned as towels and sweatpants were tossed aside. Leading the way was a tall, red headed, Swede (he prefers to be called Viking Warrior). A couple hundred thrill seekers splashed in after him, paramedics on the standby, and my family giggled from the warmth of our winter coats as everyone scrambled to get back out of the ocean.
Every year, for as far back as I can remember, we’ve spent Christmas Eve at my grandparents home. While I thoroughly enjoyed stuffing myself with baby onions, mini pickles and tiny quiches, the highlight of the evening was always Grandad’s Shrimp Dip. Upon arriving at my grandparents house, I’d kick my shoes off and race – socks slipping and hair flying – into the living room, where a glass bowl heaped with dip sat on the coffee table. I would dig through the bowl for shrimp and shove salty, dip laden chips into my little mouth as fast as I could.
This year, our tiny apartment was the place of honour for the Smith family Christmas Eve gathering. Sadly, Grandad passed a couple days before Christmas, which makes me all the more thankful for holiday traditions that are passed from one generation to the next. I will proudly carry on the shrimp dip tradition and, in the process, share this delectable recipe with you.
‘Tis the season of Christmas Cards. Unfortunately, this Christmas your fridge will sadly be lacking a picture from the three of us. Perhaps next year we’ll get our act together soon enough to create a holiday photo (complete with colour coordinated outfits and a smiling Alistair wrapped up in Christmas lights.) But we did manage to put together a little something special. What’s better than a super adorable picture of Alistair? That’s right. A super adorable Christmas video of Alistair (and his parents of course.)
Merry Christmas from Andreas, Liz & Alistair!
Our Christmas tree doesn’t have a particular theme beyond the mismatched assortment of ornaments that I have collected over the years. Perched on the branches are half a dozen of my baby ornaments, a couple miniature figure skates, and two, brightly bedecked snowmen sitting on the words, “Our First Christmas Together.” I love the jumble of gold and silver beads, tiny chips on plastic apples and the paper Swedish flags purchased from this year’s Christmas market. Each ornament brings me back to a specific time, a certain memory. They’re mini snapshots of a Christmas past.
This year, my Christmas decorations started going up mid-November – way earlier than they ever have before. With our newly renovated apartment, I wanted to make the place look really festive. We were going to do more than just a plastic tree and string of lights. This year we were going to go big! (So big in fact that I had to take down a wall of decorations as Andreas and I felt that Christmas had thrown up all over our apartment. Okay… not that big…)
It’s that time of year again. There’s something about Christmas that just feels different from the rest of the year; a tangible change in the atmosphere that marks the beginning of the festive season.