A Harper Family Christmas

So, I’m a little behind on posting so bear with me as I do Christmas first then follow up with New Years (Happy 2012 everyone!).  That being said, Christmas is absolutely one of my favorite holidays.  I love the meaning, the smells, the celebration, the food, the fun and of course, spending it with family.  This year Michael and I celebrated Christmas with his family in Arizona.  The Harpers are an incredible family and have loads of fun traditions.  Here is a look at what we’ve been up to the past week…

1) Christmas Eve:  Christmas Eve started with a beautiful outdoor mass at 5pm (only in Arizona can you do an outdoor mass on Christmas Eve!).  Then, the Christmas Eve tradition is to have a big dinner with their long-time friends and neighbors, the Griego family.  The Harpers and Griegos alternate who hosts on Christmas Eve, and this year it was the Harpers’ turn.

The entire Harper/Griego clan

The night starts with drinks and appetizers

Michael & Joe -- resident mixologists

Next up is dinner.  To fit everyone, the Harpers rented a tent to put out on their patio with the table and chairs all around.

The beautiful tented table area! Set with the famous oyster soup.

The meal always starts with oyster soup that everyone complains about (but I think it’s good!), followed by tamales, enchiladas and salad.  Dessert is rice pudding and there are always hidden whole almonds in some of the bowls. Whoever finds an almond gets to open a gift, however these “gifts” are always a little… unique.  🙂  This year there were almonds in all of the kid’s bowls!

After dinner the gambling commences with the legendary dice game!  🙂  The great thing about this is that the Harpers and Griegos supply the money, so for all of the kids, it’s pure fun.  This year Michael’s dad Ollie really mixed things up by bringing out the $2 bills!  It was an exciting game but in the end, Kelly Griego came out on top this year!  Finally, the hats always make an appearance before the night is over.

All the "kids"

2.) Presents!  Since we were leaving early the next morning to head to Sedona, we decided to open gifts before bed on Christmas Eve.  One of the great traditions for gifts is that each Harper sibling (spouses and fiances included) are assigned a Secret Santa.  This year Joe was assigned to me which is great luck because Joe is known for being a fantastic Secret Santa.  He totally delivered this year by getting me an awesome, hot pink Lulu Lemon zippie and my very own yoga mat!  Thanks Joe!

Joe is a great Secret Santa!

Shannon (in her new fur vest), Lise and Mocha during gifts

The other major highlight of the night was when Christy and TJ (newly engaged!) asked all of the siblings to be in their wedding!  I will be a bridesmaid – yay!!!!!  Can’t wait to celebrate with them!

I'm a bridesmaid! Lise & Shannon are co-maids of honor, Joe is a groomsman/musician and Michael is a groomsman/THE OFFICIANT!!!

3.) Christmas Day: We spent Christmas day this year at the Harpers’ cabin in Sedona.  It is absolutely magical out there and we had a blast celebrating with the whole McCain crew (minus Jack – we missed you!).

All of the Harpers in front of the cabin

4.) Day After Christmas: The day after Christmas we headed back from the cabin and had another party in Phoenix.  The Harpers had lots of their family visit so we got to utilize the tent again for another fabulous meal.

Whew!  It’s been a lot but a LOT of FUN!  I hope you’ve had lovely holidays!!


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