WRITTEN ON December 3rd, 2010 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Uncategorized

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are undoubtedly my favorite time of the year. Sadly, I’ve felt some trepidation about the holidays this year, as this same time last year I was pregnant and buying little baby ornaments for our tree. Any of my loyal readers know how that worked out, four days before Christmas no less. So I’ve been hesitant, even scared, to unpack our decorations, knowing what was packed away with them: little glass baby bottle ornaments, and a sliver framed picture of our first ultra-sound.  It was as if I had allowed these things to haunt our own house, terrified of seeing them again.

A week before Thanksgiving, I’d had enough. I put on my favorite new girl-power song, Little Miss, by Sugarland (check it out – you will never be the same,) mustered up some courage, and headed up to the attic to dig out and discard the last vestiges of a nightmare. I wasn’t going to let mere objects scare me away from my favorite time of year in our new home. Full of purpose I walked them, ultrasound image included, out to the trash. I have enough memories of that time.  I don’t need physical reminders. It felt oddly freeing to finally just let it go.  Onward and upward, and ready for Santa.

Last Saturday, about a week after my mental “cleanse,” we attended the first ever Huntington Christmas Parade. Since we live in the village of Huntington, we invited a few friends to stop by for some impromptu holiday cheer and park their cars in front of our house, so as to avoid the mayhem that would surely ensue in town once the festivities picked up. We ended up with several of my favorite kids, even more of my favorite adults, and two vats of hot chocolate: one kid friendly and one categorically not. We poured the sweet molten goodness into to-go cups and walked en masse, bellies stuffed with cocktail franks (or teeny wienies, as I like to call them), into town to line the streets.

Bundled against the cold, drinking in our very strong Hot Choc-tails, we waited excitedly for Santa to roll into town on his sleigh and officially light the town Christmas tree, declaring it time to deck the halls and make merry.  Local firefighters had decorated their engines to the nines, and walked alongside to hand out candy canes to onlooking kids, big and small. And, look, the Hess truck’s here! We all cheered as the Girl Scouts marched past with their banner. Floats carrying local bands playing Christmas songs kept everyone in tune. Every lamp post in town was adorned with a lighted wreath.

Finally, finally!  Here comes Santa Claus, ho ho ho-ing into town on a sleigh pulled by a huge local firetruck. We followed Old St. Nick to the center of town to see the Mayor light the tree (ok, maybe we just missed that part), toasty in our hats and coats and warmed from within by sweetened brandy and good cheer. It was the perfect way to ring in the season, a night filled with laughter and love and a strong sense of place.  I grinned from ear to ear as I felt my roots growing deeper into this sandy-soiled earth.

Cheers!

Grown Up Hot Chocolate (makes 6-8 servings)
6 cups whole milk
10 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup brandy
1/2 cup Kahlua
In a medium sized saucepan, warm the milk. Melt the chocolate chips into milk, the add coffee and liqueurs. Do not boil.  Serve hot and do not drive!

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