Christmas has always been a pretty big deal in my family. My mom always said that once we were married off and had families of our own, it didn't matter what we did for every other holiday, as long as we spent Christmas Eve together. Well, the whole family moved around, and with everybody kind of all over the place, Christmas Eve didn't happen for a couple of years. I mean, it happened, because Christmas is very much a thing that happens annually, but rather our Christmas Eve didn't happen. However, somehow, everything worked out so that everyone could get to my parents' new house in Myrtle Beach, SC for Christmas, and 2015 was the first time in three years we all spent Christmas together.
My parents just moved to Myrtle Beach, and even though they've been spending winters there for over a decade, it felt very weird to not be spending Christmas in Upstate New York. Like, high school friends would post something on Facebook, and I'd think "oh wow, that sounds neat", then remember I was actually nowhere near them. In any event, Christmas spent with the family was most excellent, here are some of the highlights:
- I talked about finding comfort in the familiarity of holiday traditions in my post about making pizzelles with Casey's family. In the same vein, being at my parents' house (even if it wasn't what I personally identify as my parents' house... yet) with all the decorations I knew growing up helped to get me in the holiday spirit.
According to my mom, this is her favorite Christmas ornament. It is literally a coffee canister lid with a picture of me and a piece of tinsel glued to it. My mom has good taste.
There was a lot of food. Chinese food on Christmas Eve, brunch Christmas day, family dinner, pizza, epic snackery, and nachos. There were also cookies and a cake (yes, my mom bought a cake in case we ran out of cookies). I'd like to say I showed significant restraint and didn't overindulge, but then I'd be lying. Maybe 2016 will be the year our family doesn't overdo it at Christmas.
There was also a lot of beer. I had fun introducing my family to some more adventurous beers– fun IPAs, sours, and bretty beers to name a few. We also learned that for some reason, the Piggly Wiggly in Market Common has an insane beer selection.
Unfortunately, there was also Fireball. My father is an interesting man. A former scotch drinker, about a year ago my father switched it up and started drinking raspberry vodka with lemonade, and now he is an avid fan of sipping Fireball from a shot glass (i.e. he enjoys taking shots of Fireball in slow motion). I write a lot about beer, because it is what I like to drink. That's not to say I don't enjoy the occasional glass of wine or cocktail, but I do generally make a rule of avoiding shots. If I'm out with friends and someone orders a round of Jameson, I will do my best to bow out gracefully or hide in the bathroom until it's over. Nothing good happens after shots. One night after dinner, we went back to my parents' house for drinks and more cookies. We were enjoying beer and conversation, when my dad suggested the group take a shot of Fireball. Again, I try to avoid shots, but when my dad is (literally) calling the shots, it's kind of hard to say no. Five fireballs and a dance party later, I somehow made it into pajamas and bed. The next day, I threw up in the backseat of my parents' car and subsequently gave up Fireball for life.
More like "Christmas naieve", amirite?
- In what I'm hoping may become a new Christmas tradition, my sister and I got tattoos! She got the same "meow" tattoo I have in memory of our Grandmother, GG. I got a palmetto tree with a Christmas ornament to commemorate our first family Christmas in Myrtle Beach.
- Spending Christmas somewhere other than Upstate New York may always feel a little off, but spending Christmas at the beach will never not be awesome.
- My nieces and nephews are getting older, and it's super weird, but also pretty great. I'm almost certain my oldest nephew's relationship with his girlfriend has been going on longer than mine and Casey's, his brother is starting to think about college, and I'm able to have real conversations with my youngest niece and nephew. I don't know when all these little weirdos got so grown up and smart, but I'm pretty amazed by all of them. My youngest nephew is currently really into making stop motion Lego movies, and he taught me how to use the Stop Motion App. It's no "Robocop", but I did manage to make a little movie.
We were initially planning to head to Charleston, SC to ring in the New Year, but a lack of planning on our part and a severe holiday-related price hike on hotels put a damper on those plans, and we instead headed to Wilmington, NC.
We stayed at The Wilmingtonian, which was situated right in downtown Historic Wilmington. The rates were reasonable, the room was fine (save for the angry, drunk couple staying next to us on New Year's Eve, threatening to divorce each other at 3am), and the location was unbeatable.
Our first night there, we enjoyed dinner at The Copper Penny, a local pub owned by Philadelphians (or at least I assumed so based on the decor and food options). Casey had a hot roast pork sandwich, asked for a second side of au jus, and was incredibly sad once his sandwich was gone. I ordered the adult grilled cheese, which wasn't so much a grilled sandwich as it was melted cheese on ciabatta, but it was tasty nonetheless.
The following morning, we grabbed breakfast at Dixie Grill. Service was slow (maybe they were short staffed, or didn't expect to be so busy? Also, they have patrons seat themselves upon arrival, which seems strange for a place with such a high volume of tables.), but the food was awesome.
I was glad we both had decided to order light, because by the time breakfast was over, we only had about an hour before we were supposed to meet up with my friend, Sarah, and her husband for lunch at Front Street Brewery.
Front Street prides itself on being Wilmington's only restaurant and brewery. Their beers are a mix of straightforward styles along with some fun barrel aged stuff. I thought the Port City IPA was light and drinkable, with enough hops to make it interesting. Given that I am a lover of both DIPAs and wordplay, I also gave the Hoppleganger black DIPA a whirl. It was a little boozier than I'd normally drink, and the 8.2% ABV necessitated a post-lunch nap.
Post-nap, we rallied and walked to the bridge from the opening credits of One Tree Hill.
I couldn't convince Casey to walk across the bridge while I sang Gavin Degraw's "I dont want to be".
From there, we checked out Flytrap Brewing and Ironclad Brewery, both of which have been open for about a year. Flytrap, located in a smaller space, specializes in American and Belgian style beers. As I've mentioned before, Belgians aren't my favorite, but their beers seemed technically sound, and we did enjoy their red ale. Conversely, Ironclad's space is huge, and gorgeously appointed. I was surprised to see a small handful of 10 barrel fermenters sort of lost among the massive amounts of bar space. I will almost never say anything bad about a brewery, but the IPA helped me understand what people mean when they use butter as a descriptor for diacetyl, and the DIPA wasn't much better. Our bartender was incredibly sweet, and offered to exchange our drinks. We very much enjoyed our replacement beers (Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale).
Flights at Flytrap
After some brewery hopping, we went to Slice of Life Pizzeria and Pub for New Year's Eve dinner. You read that correctly, friends. Our New Year's Eve consisted of pizza, nachos, beer, and being back at our hotel and in bed before 9pm. And it was perfect.
On New Year's Day, we woke up and grabbed breakfast at The Basics. At first, I was a little put off because the price point for breakfast items seemed a little high. However, once they brought out our food, it made sense, because there was a lot of food on those plates. Also, they have migas on their menu, which will never not bring a smile to my face. From there, we walked back to our car, and headed back to Asheville to begin the next chapter of our lives.
The End of the Road(trip)
It seems somewhat anticlimactic for what felt like such an epic undertaking when we decided to do this road trip. There were no major revelatory experiences or transcendental moments. It's just that time Casey and I hopped in a car and spent two months driving around the country, eating and drinking. That said, it was mostly a very fun couple of months, and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to see so many wonderful places and people, with someone I happen to love kind of a lot, and to have had the chance to share this experience with all of you. Thanks!
Now, onto the next adventure!
“The only question in life is whether or not you are going to answer a hearty ‘YES!’ to your adventure.” – Joseph Campell