Christmas in Pittsburgh 2017 Part I
Pittsburgh, PA - Events of Tuesday, December 19 to Saturday, December 30, 2017
On the morning of Tuesday, December 19, we piled into the truck and headed north to spend the Christmas holiday in Pittsburgh with Lora, J. Michael, and Lydia. We made an overnight stop at the Hampton Inn in Rock Hill, South Carolina, as we have done in recent years. Rock Hill used to be about half way, but now that we moved two hours farther south to the SKP Florida Co-op, the first day's drive is a little longer.
After we got settled into the motel in Rock Hill, we went to the Texas Roadhouse located a few minutes away for dinner. We arrived before 6 p.m. in time for the early bird special, which consists of 10 or 11 entrees with two sides for $8.99. As usual, we both had 6-ounce sirloin steaks, which were delish!
After enjoying Hampton Inn's complimentary hot breakfast on Wednesday morning, we were on the road shortly after 8 a.m. We arrived at Lora and J. Michael's house around 4 p.m.
Every time we see Lydia, she seems to have grown a couple of inches. We spent the evening relaxing and getting settled.
On Thursday, Paul met several of his former co-workers from MSA for lunch. Paul misses his buddies, but he doesn't miss work one bit.
We spent Friday and part of Saturday wrapping gifts, cooking, and making other holiday preparations. Later on Saturday, we went the Christmas Eve Eve church service. The services on Christmas Eve Eve are much less crowded than on Christmas Eve so it makes things easier with Lydia. Attending services on Christmas Eve Eve also makes things easier because we always go to J. Michael's brother's house on Christmas Eve for a buffet dinner. J. Michael's brother smokes several beef briskets, and everyone brings a side dish or an appetizer. It was great visiting with everyone, and the food was delicious!
It's not unusual to have snow during our stay in Pittsburgh over Christmas, but this is the first year in many years that we truly had a white Christmas. The ground was bare and there were only a few snow flurries on Christmas Eve; but when we awoke on Christmas Morning, there were a couple of inches of fresh snow on the ground.
Fresh snowfall on Christmas morning
Along with the snow came colder weather. The cold, and along with it the snow, persisted the entire remainder of our stay with lows in the single digits and highs in the teens.
Last year, Lydia was old enough to be aware of what was going on with all the gifts and festivities. This year at 3½, she was even more aware and was able to anticipate things with even more excitement. It was great seeing her wide-eyed look when she first came downstairs and saw all the gifts. After taking a good look around, she started opening the gifts in her stocking.
From the stocking, it was on to more gifts. Lydia cuddled up on the sofa next to Mommy to open some of her presents.
One of Lydia's favorite gifts was a new shopping cart. Fortunately, the assembly was easy, and we were able to get it put together quickly so Lydia could try it out.
Of course, the dogs got their turns as well. Lora and J. Michael's boxers, Gunnar and Java, got new toys and snacks, and so did Freeway.
After the gifts were opened and all the boxes and wrapping paper were cleaned up, we had a delicious breakfast of scratch-made cinnamon rolls, which is a tradition we started when Lora was a kid. Margery's mother, who was Swiss, always followed the European tradition of accompanying sweet rolls with cheese, and that is something we also continue. The cheese provides protein and also adds a savory counterpoint to the sugary rolls.
Another tradition we started when Lora was a kid was to not have a big dinner on Christmas, but instead to snack our way through the day with various appetizers. That gave us time to relax, watch movies, and play with our new gifts. With all the shopping, wrapping, baking, and other preparations leading up to Christmas, it was a good way for everyone to enjoy a more relaxing day without the added work of preparing a big dinner. Lora and J. Michael frequently follow that tradition, and we enjoyed the rest of Christmas day snacking, relaxing, and playing with Lydia.
Lydia is old enough to begin to learn to follow rules to play games. She got several games this year, and one of them was Sneaky Snacky Squirrel. The object is to fill the 5 holes in your tree stump game piece with different colored acorns. A spinner determines how many and what color acorns a player gets on each turn. The spinner also has a "wind storm" on it where a player can lose all their acorns and a "sneaky snacky" space where the player can steal an acorn from an opponent. The next photo shows Lydia and Da (Daddy) playing Sneaky Snacky Squirrel while Mommy watches.
Unfortunately, J. Michael had to work the day after Christmas, but the rest of us went off on an adventure. Stay tuned.