Christmas 2009

Weeks of planning and it is over in a whirlwind! Of course, the tree and decorations are still up and will be for another week – and I am still wading through the ream of photos taken, and there is left over ham in the frig. So it isn’t completely a memory! Yet before the Christmas delight fades into a blur and I turn my attentions to the launch of My Dearest Mr. Darcy, I must share the highlights with all of you.

If you read my post on Dec. 19 (scroll down) you know that the prime Lathan holiday extravaganza was the purchase of annual passes to Disneyland with a trip to the Magic Kingdom for three whole days. Whoot! Of the numerous times we have been to Disneyland over the decades, this was the first ever during the holiday season. It was everything I dreamed it would be! The entire place was decked out in lights and Christmassy decorations galore. Between the 3 of us bearing cameras, we have some 500 photos! It is tough to pick a reasonable number, but I’ll share a few as this essay goes along.

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Let me just say that we Lathans LOVE Disneyland! It truly is our favorite vacation destination. This year, as a Christmas treat and reward for a very hectic year, we went all out. First splurge was the Holiday Tour – a guided affair that took us all over the park. Our guide, Anna, was lovely as she shared insider info on Disneyland holiday traditions as well as general Christmas history. We also got to walk right on to the Haunted Mansion and Small World! That was uber-cool. Then we had reserved seating for the Holiday Parade with hot cocoa in souvenir mugs and the best gingerbread cookie men I have ever eaten in my life. I highly recommend going on any of the tours.

Fun Fact: The Haunted Mansion is completely redone in The Nightmare Before Christmas motif. Now, I confess that I did not like that movie, and I really love the Haunted Mansion as it normally is, but it was so fun to see it different and fantastically revamped. We rode it twice! Anna said there are over a hundred pumpkin jack-o-lanterns decorating the grounds and the gingerbread house in the ballroom is real and baked by the Disney bakers!

Fun Fact: A Small World is also completely Christmas inside and out. Along with the classic “It’s a Small World” song, the children of the world sing “Jingle Bells” and “Deck the Halls” in their languages.

Fun Fact: The number of lights and decorations throughout the park is staggering. Anna gave us figures, but I can’t remember as the numbers are overwhelmingly huge. The tree alone is awe-inspiring. Yet, she told us that it takes only 50 workers one day to totally deck the entire place! I still can’t believe that.

Fun Fact: For the past several years the Presidential-pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys are given sanctuary at Disneyland! Courage and Carolina have a wonderful pen in Big Thunder Ranch, right alongside all 8 of Santa’s reindeer and are cared for by Santa and Mrs. Claus. How lucky are they?

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Our second splurge was getting into the whole pin craze. We bought lanyards to hold our passes and then, of course, had to add the bling (or flair, if you are an Office Space fan and know what I am talking about – LOL!) along the neckstrap. It became a borderline obsession to scan every shop selling pins for something unique. We each managed to find several special pins to start our collection that will continue as we put those passes to good use this year!

Disneyland has great food and we have our favorite places to eat. But I have always wanted to dine fancy at the Blue Bayou restaurant inside The Pirates of the Caribbean. This year I made advance reservations and am here to tell you that it was fantastic! The atmosphere is divine with lapping bayou water, soft jazz music, and faux nighttime lighting. Even better, the food was delicious. Pricey, yes, but no more so than a really top-notch restaurant would be.

Lastly, in the splurge department, we reserved riverside seating for Fantasmic. I love that show and have seen it numerous times, but always with an obstructed view and perched uncomfortably in some manner. It was well worth the cost to have nice chairs set front-and-center AND to be served a tray of yummy treats and warm drinks. Adding to the pleasure, we were able to stay in our spots and enjoy the holiday fireworks display immediately following Fantasmic. Then we were snowed on!

Naturally we visited a bunch of our favorite attractions – Pirates, Star Tours, Indiana Jones, Screamin’, Tower of Terror, Soaring over California, Mark Twain Riverboat, Tiki Room – but most often we simply wandered through the streets and stores, absorbing the holiday atmosphere and taking a ton of pictures. We had so much fun using my iPhone to tweet and take snapshots. At the recommendation of our pastor and his wife (serious Disneyland junkies) we had silhouettes made. This was great as a memento and it was cool to discuss the history of silhouettes with the artist – Connie – a topic I know a bit about from research for a scene in My Dearest Mr. Darcy. *hint* As an added, wonderful bonus, I was fortunate to meet up with two longtime fans/friends of the Saga. Kerry and Sheila took the time out of their lives and family fun to visit with me and have me sign their books! Isn’t that awesome? I wrote about both events here on my blog, so scroll down.

I could go on forever with entertaining tidbits, but will bring that portion to a close. All good things come to an end and we did have to pack up and return home. Disneyland was our main gift, but that certainly does not mean that Santa did not show up! I was scheduled to work on Christmas Eve, but thanks to a low census in the NICU and the hand of fate that drew my name in the lottery dock, I ended up being off. Yeah! The pre-Christmas days were lazy since all preparations had been made prior to our trip, all the presents wrapped except for a few last minute deliveries, so we hung out as a family watching a Star Wars marathon (the original movies, naturally) on Christmas Eve. Not exactly Christmassy, but it IS Star Wars and that is always good! The morning dawned with blue skies, no one rising too early, and leisurely sipping our espresso as the gifts were doled out and opened one at a time. The pile of wrapping pleased the cat, as did the now vacant tree that he insists is his spot. Steve was truly surprised for once with a new flat-screen TV for the bedroom. I was surprised by a Kindle – very cool, although I am still a bit prejudiced toward “real” books – and the biggest surprise: a throw blanket from my daughter with woven images of our family.  Unbelievable! A treasure to be sure, and almost too pretty to use. See for yourself:

The day was spent in relaxation, back-to-back episodes of How I Met Your Mother (a gift for my daughter), talking with family far away, writing this blog, and a wonderful ham feast. Another legendary Lathan Christmas is over but the memories will live on. As will the pine needles that are burrowed into the carpet to be vacuumed in the weeks to come. LOL!

I hope everyone’s Christmas celebration was fabulous and memorable. I would love to hear your stories if you wish to share. Come back tomorrow for news on the My Dearest Mr. Darcy Launch Fete. Party time!!

11 Comments for Christmas 2009

  1. Hi Sharon,

    thanks for your nice words regarding Serena. She already is doing quite fine. It is really a wonder what can be done nowadays. We are happy and thankful for it.

    I really liked Enid. It was interesting. Although Matthew’s role wasn’t that big, he played his part very well like always. You even can hear him sing "run rabbit run" for a very short while. About Enid itself, it’s shocking what kind of person she was. Especially towards her children and also her first husband (Matthew’s role).

    I am so excited that I can see Matthew in the Theater in March! I really look forward to it. I will tell you how it was 🙂

  2. Oh Martina, I am so glad little Serena is doing well. 11 weeks premature is frightening, as I well know, but we can do wonders with such early premies. Don’t fear, she will catch up! How was "Enid"? I know Matthew has a fairly short part, but of course he is always worth watching! I am a wee bit jealous that you get to see him in London. You must report back!

    Emily got the blanket at: http://www.personalthrows.com

    It is so nice. I am already putting it to good use, even though it isn’t very cold here.

    Susanne, I do pray you manage your trip to Finland someday. That sounds fantastic! I have never heard of a Santa place in Finland! How awesome.

    Esther, small get togethers are nice too. Our families are very far away, so our holidays are always intimate. Of course, I do love when we all gather. It gets wild, let me tell you!

  3. Hi Sharon!

    Thanks for sharing your fantastic trip to Disneyland with us. I’m glad you had the chance to do and see all the things you wanted to.

    The throw Emily gave you is just beautiful! I have seen throws similar to yours in the past. They are really a wonderful keepsake!

    So glad you all had a great Christmas and were happy with your gifts.

    We had a nice Christmas, albeit much smaller than we usually have. Just four of us this year but it was nice and quiet and relaxing.

    Enjoy the rest of the holidays and Happy New Year!

    Take care and God Bless.

    Esther

  4. Dear Sharon!

    Christmas and Disneyland, that sounds so wonderful. Thank you for sharing it all with us.
    The blanket from Emily is amazing. I can´t imagine how to do it. But I have to confess that after the end of school I stopped all kind of needleworks. I never was good in it.
    My big Christmas dream is this: one day I´d like to go to Northern Finland and meet Santa. There you can visit his post office. his toy workshops and can speak to the elves working there. But it is just a dream as through all of December we are very busy at work. But maybe one day.
    Well, that´s my dream!
    Sharon, lots of love to you and your family,
    Susanne

  5. Dear Sharon

    Thanks for sharing your "holiday story" with us. It’s great to hear that you had a good time in Disneyland. I was in Disneyland in Paris once, I think about 15 years ago maybe. We also went in the winter season and it was really lovely.

    This year I spent christmas eve and the first holiday (yesterday) with my parents, my sister, her boyfriend and their baby. Serena is about 7 1/2 months old -although she "should" be only about 5 months old as she was born 11 weeks earlier – and it was her first christmas. I always enjoyed christmas during the last years, but with young children it’s even nicer. Althoug she didn’t really realize what happened it was nice to see her reaction to the christmas tree and all the presents she got. And of course we all ate way too much during the last 3 days. And I got great presents like the film "Enid" with "Matthew MacFadyen" and the book "Private Lives". So I can read it before I go to London to see Matthew in the play in March.

  6. Isn’t the quilt awesome! I am so happy with it. Plus, it keeps my feeties toasty!

    Sheila, It was great to meet with you. I am glad you got Loving Mr. Darcy. Enjoy! Next time I am down your way I can sign it for you. 🙂

    Hi Becky! So great to hear from you! Going to the beach again? I’ll keep my previous dream/wish for you alive while you are reading My dearest Mr. Darcy. 🙂

    Vee, I am so glad all your family was around. I know how important they all are to you. I am jealous about the Wicked tickets, but will submerge my envy in joy for you. LOL! Have fun and be sure to tell me all about it.

    Best wishes to you and Roberto, Seli! I can imagine the amazing food you got to eat and my mouth is watering.

  7. WOW great pictures and what a great quilt!! Beautiful and so different. I am so glad you and your family had such a great holiday! We had a great time, still full from all the eating!! LOL

    Thank you for your woderful cards.

    Robert and I wish you all the very best always

  8. TOTALLY AWESOME SHARON!!!!!!

    Disneyland sounds magical during the Christmas period! I LOVE the throw what a wonderful gift to treasure. The Lathans certainly know how to have a great time and celebrate!!

    I spent Christmas day with my closest family. The day started with a call from my younger brother currently working and living in the UK. That was a special treat! Lunch was spent at my handsome and gorgeous son and beautiful daughter in laws place. Loads of food and drink and desserts, couldn’t walk by the end of the day!
    We played some games outdoors and my son played a very cool Santa that had us all in stitches. He was hilarious! Got lots of wonderful pressies. Including tix to see "Wicked" next week.
    Hope everyone had a lovely day. God Bless
    TSBO devotee
    Vee

  9. What great memories and fun times! Thanks for sharing pictures with us here. Now that life has slowed down for these lovely holidays, I’m SO excited to dive into your book!!! Sharon, that is like the gift that you have given to me. 🙂 I can’t wait to read it, and have my stretch of beach ready to head out, relax, and read to my heart’s content.

    Thanks again for sharing your wonderful holiday fun with us. Enjoy the rest!

  10. that is an awesome quilt!

    I went on the Nightmared HM twice this season. Once during Halloween TIme and once during Christmas. A real gingerbread house? WOW! I did not know that. My friend Jim did comment after that he had a craving for gingerbread.

    oh and as promised… I bought book two!

I love to hear from you!