Traditions

This year feels a little different already.

As you know, a very VERY big thing is happening in my life this year. I’m getting married! That fact has sparked a lot of reflection, including on – the idea? the concept? the amazing wonderful foundation? – of family.

Here’s a throwback:Image

(I grew up on a cattle ranch, in case you are wondering.)

Unfortunately, my family hasn’t always been the closest of families. We’ve had a fair share of devastating events, and that was something that I used to resent.  But slowly, as I’ve grown up little by little, I’ve started to realize that those times led me to learn a lot about myself and my values and my dreams, which are all things that I will be bringing to my marriage to Bill. The holiday season and the New Year are notorious for things such as traditions, and with the idea of embarking on my the incredibly exciting slash terrifying journey of starting my own (when did I get old enough for THAT to happen?), the time I got to spend at home with the family I grew up in seemed to take on a much more meaningful, emotional, and well, almost sad air. But happy-sad. Sad-happy? You know what I mean.

A marriage is really a starting of your own family unit, if a very different one. One of your own choosing. And despite the sad memories that I have often focused on in the recent-ish past, the last couple weeks brought to light some of the great things that have come from that past. Traditions, for instance.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is with my mom. Every year on Christmas Eve, we make the same butter cookies, with the same recipe and the same cookie cutters that we’ve been using for as long as I can remember. They also come with the same whining and complaining that happens every Christmas Eve at around 9 o’clock when we are STILL frosting all 30,000 cookies that the recipe makes. We never cut the recipe in half. We never decide to skip it all together. We just sit there and sigh and grumble and eat frosting until we get sick and yell at the boys who come and steal cookies but don’t help. And we secretly love it, because it leads to this:

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Which is great, because even though at that point we huff and puff about eating too many and getting fat and having slightly angry tummies, it leads to another holiday tradition (my favorite one):

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Cookies for breakfast!

And we never complain about that.

Even though my mom and I aren’t usually together while eating our Christmas breakfast, we both know that the other is doing it. Every year. And that is something I will definitely bring to my new family, when the time comes.

I’m beginning to realize that even though traditions may sound silly to someone else, they are something that we hold on too for life. Through the good times and the bad. Through big changes and little every-days. And sometimes what gets you through the bad times and the changes and the every-days are those little, seemingly insignificant happy memories that dot the trail of dark or cloudy days.

Kind of like eating cookies for breakfast.

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Happy New Year!

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This year is going to be a big year, and we have so much to look forward to and be thankful for. Wishing you a fabulous year filled with hot messes and haphazard happiness, as that’s the kind that makes for the best stories.

Look out, 2013. Here we come!

xo

Ashleigh

California Through and Through

As part of our holiday festivities, Bill and I got the opportunity to head to his home town to spend some time with his family. Where is his hometown? Um, here.

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It is not this cold in California. Not in Northern California where I grew up. And definitely not on the beautiful, sunny, just-about-70-degrees-year-round Central Coast where we live now. Anybody who has experienced a Minnesota winter was skeptical when I told them we were going. Bill asked me which cold weather clothes I was bringing, and when, on a 60 degree night, I pointed to the one I was wearing, his only response was laughter. And even though I spent part of my time packing laying in the fetal position on my closet floor, I was DETERMINED to be tough, to be a champion, to not let it get to me. That’s just my fighting nature.

But then we got there, and it was effing COLD. Like lungs-turn-to-ice-when-you-breathe-in cold. Like I-can’t-open-the-car-door-because-it’s-frozen-shut cold. Like constantly-falling-on-my-ass-because-the-ground-is-pure-ice cold. Yeah, it was kind of like that. But the weirdest thing is that people still do whatever it is they would normally do, like go to the movies (This Is 40 is hilarious), or shop at the Mall of America (omigod LOVE), or walk from their apartments to lunch (um, hold on… I didn’t do so well with that one).

I got over it (on the outside), and we had an amazing time. Here are a few snapshots.

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Flying over the states at sunset!

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I found a little peace on the plane in a good book and the kindness of strangers. Thanks for the healthy organic snack, Ernest! I hope you had a good journey to Chile.

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Our first morning there included venturing outside. Snow angels were made, and sled rides were had.

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Huh. That’s something you don’t see every day. (Well, at least I don’t!) I carted this little puppy around with me for the better part of 20 minutes. An icicle!

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The Timberwolves *cough*marrymerickyrubio*cough* put on one heck of a show, breaking the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 12-game winning streak.

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College basketball teammates came together at a St. Paul pub to catch up about engagements (us!), weddings (Eric!), and babies (Jeff!). Even though I wasn’t around in the glory days, you could tell that times they are a-changing (as is the definition of “glory days” it seems).

Not pictured: the amazing Christmas celebration we had with Bill’s family, the timeout we took for beers at Wild Bill’s Saloon, meeting Bill’s best man and family over appetizers at TGI Fridays, or the bonding time I spent addressing our save-the-dates with Bill’s mom and sister. Even though I was nervous about the cold, the trip was incredible. Bill introduced me to another little piece of himself, and the more time we spent in Minnesota, the closer I felt to him. It was so nice to spend part of the holidays…

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…with the new side of my family.

(But I am glad to be back in California. It’s much warmer here.)

You Can Never Go Back

Once you give a man a man cave, that is. Those were the words of coworkers, friends, family – everyone of the female gender, really – who I told about Bill’s Christmas present. I didn’t feel an ounce of doubt then, and I don’t feel an ounce of doubt now. You wouldn’t either if you saw Bill’s face when I let him open the door. I’ve turned my guest room over to the dark side… It’s a MAN CAVE!

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Since he couldn’t really open it, I wrapped the door of course.

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A new comforter and a throw repping the Timberwolves…

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A panoramic canvas of Target Field, home of the Twins…

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Heritage banners of his favorite pro teams… He might be from Minnesota.

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A grown-up version of an over-the-door basketball hoop reminiscent of childhood days…

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And don’t forget a stash of Bill’s favorite MAN FOODS aka PROTEIN.

Of course, there was also a stocking filled with things like A1 Steak Sauce, an NBA sweatband, an microwaveable Egg McMuffin maker, and ball pump needles. Overall, I couldn’t wait to give him everything, and the smile on his face was worth it.

And of course, the next week of hearing him brag to his guy friends about his present from his girl wasn’t such a bad thing either.