Saturday, January 15, 2011

Christmas in Carolina

Holidays are certainly never dull, are they? I changed my flight at the last minute so that I could come down early for a little R&R before Christmas. It ended up not being so relaxing, but I was certainly glad to be there. Dad started having serious trouble with his foot, but still had loads of Christmas cookie orders to get out of the door. Between shifts of nurse and chef, the relatives came down from Pennsylvania to start the party. Dad went into the hospital on the 23rd and proceeded to have surgeries on Christmas Eve and Day, followed by a long recovery that's still in progress. So we brought Christmas to the hospital and it really didn't feel to be that out-of-the-normal!

Then, the day after Christmas, Soeren swooped in from Germany and joined the madness. Fortunately for me, it was too expensive for him to change the ticket and run the other way. Christmas #2 in the Carolinas for him- and it only increased on the scale of madness. But he was a sport with the never ending sitting-around-catching-up-time and daily hospital visits.

After Christmas the serious competitions begin. Brown family traditions: Cookie decorating contest and photography contest. The cookie contest is my mom's sugar cookies and amazing wedding cake frosting plus every type of sprinkle and food coloring in the grocery store. We all sat around the table at Ned's river house and decorated for what seemed like HOURS! The fruits of our labors:

Then there's a very serious judging process:

And finally the winners are announced! (Note: Despite the pleas of some, they still let foreigner boyfriends enter AND win the family cash prizes. So not cool.) Seriously though, aren't they cute? Soeren's sailboat in the river won First place, Kelsey's reindeer won Second, and Sheldon's intricate snowflake got Third.

Now we come to the second, more intense, week-long photo contest. We have a limited number of days to run around and take pictures for three competition categories. This year they were: Local Landscapes, Humor, and People/Animals. Only the most professional eyes are allowed to judge, so the process had to take place in the hospital to include my Dad. Another very serious judging process:

And of course the judges have to do the memorable Ned Brown pose before coming back to announce the winners:

The Cunninghams racked up the winnings big-time, with Patrick winning the $50 grand prize and both Katie and Patrick winning Starbucks gift cards!

Soeren and I got a couple of restful days away in Charleston, but he's holding those pictures captive. All in all it was great to see everyone, enjoy the warmer weather, and to be able to be there for Dad's surgery and hospital stay. Holidays are never normal...but that's why we love them!

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