Showing Marius a Diaz-family Christmas

It meant a lot to me that Marius came with me to Michigan for Christmas this year! Our bags were stuffed with presents when we departed Bergen/Oslo on the 13th at 6am bound for Detroit. When we arrived Marius greeted everyone working at the airport with a Merry Christmas, which spread a lot of smiles. Unfortunately, some of our gifts were confiscated...apparently all meat is prohibited from entering the US unless it has been boiled and sealed in a metal container. Sounded a lot like spam. So our gift of Norwegian smoked ham and lam sausage was given in spirit. At least the other gifts made it through!

[Upon arrival at DTW]

[Marius cutting down the tree]
Mom and Dad picked us up on time and we were tired. We had a hard time adjusting to the time zone since our flight just made us awake for the day, but after three days we were adjusted. We picked out our tree the day after arriving and Marius was given the task to cut it down after a fair amount of time of comparing several trees in opposite corners of the tree farm, which, in retrospect, we probably would have been satisfied with any of the trees we compared. Marius got to hear the usual frustration and arguing that comes with putting up the tree, and that gave him a good laugh. We also set up some lights outside. Marius loved that project and added a few more strands the following days, including dripping icicle lights. 

We drove up to Shanty Creek/Schuss Mtn to hang out with Katie and Justin. We stopped at the cross country ski shop and Marius bought himself a new pair of ski pants; however, when we arrived at the condo it was 50 degrees F and no snow! The bar next door (Ivan's), the outdoor and indoor pools and hot tub were also closed. But we had plenty of games and got to catch up. At least on the day we were leaving there was a bit of snow coming down. Dad's tip to bring the saucer sleds was great! We hiked up the slalom hill to sled down a few times and finally just before driving back south there was just enough snow for Marius and I to try the pine cone loop (a little 5km flat loop around the golf course). Unfortunately, we did not come back home to snow.

[The tree looks smaller than it was here]
[a little snow at Schuss!]

Carolyn got in a week after us. She did not get much rest at home before we all shoved in the car to drive up to Frankenmuth. Naturally, we ate an early dinner at the Bavarian Inn in the Edelweiss room; followed by viewing the glockenspiel, Bronner's and the Silent Night Chapel. It was a long day, but could not be passed up if I was going to give Marius a true Michigan Christmas experience. 

[So many choices! I brought home a cardinal ornament]
[A little overwhelming?]

Aunt Janine and Uncle Jerry came in to spend Christmas with us as well. Christmas Eve we drove down to St. Paul's cathedral in Detroit for midnight mass. Marius really enjoyed it! Christmas morning was a real treat as well. We all talked about only getting each other "little remembrances", but everyone went beyond expectations. My big gift from Marius is a trip to Madrid at the end of March and a spot in the half marathon there. 

[It's a Christmas Eve miracle!]
[Aunt Janine snapped a picture inside the cathedral]
[Looks like Santa found us this year!]
On the 26th we drove over to spend time with Mom's side of the family. This was the first year in a very long time that the whole family was all together, which made it extra special. The "Drunkles" took us skeet shooting, and Marius did the best out of all of us.

A visit home is not complete without visiting my group of friends from high school! Even though it is always a long time since we had last seen each other, it always feels like no time has passed. They are a great group of friends and I'm so thankful that they take time out of their busy schedules to come visit me. 

Now I'm in the Munich airport waiting for the flight to Oslo. We're sitting in the Lufthansa lounge thanks to Marius' gold card and we had a glass of champagne to toast to the new year. We have another 5 hours to go before we have to board our plane. Things are pretty closed down since it's New Year's Day...

Hope everyone had as nice of a holiday as I did! Thank you, family, for being such great company and hosts this holiday season. Love you all! Happy New Year!

Happy New Year / Godt Nyttår

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