We rounded out the year with a lot of awesome celebrations in December! I always find this time of year very satisfying as friends and family are constantly gathering and you really feel the love of everyone that you surround yourself with. On the flip side, though, all the indulgence can be a bit over the top, but we roll with it. Brayden took the SAT for the first time and did an amazing job! We are so proud of her. Of course, because she is so determined and driven, she has already signed up to take it again to improve her score. To celebrate her taking the test, we all went to Topgolf, to which the girls had never been. We had such a great time and they were convinced they had mad skills with the clubs. We laughed a lot and it was awesome. That evening, we celebrated our neighbor’s 40th birthday at a brewery, which was a surprise that his wife organized. Trent and I had to skip out on that party early so we could attend yet another party at my friend Koh’s house. She prepared us a traditional Korean dinner and it was absolutely delicious! The next day, I met up with a friend of mine from college, Courtney, that I hadn’t seen in a few years and we hope to make it more of a regular occurrence since she lives in the area.
Later in the week, I attended Phyllis’s annual ladies-only ornament exchange and they really raise the bar each year. This time, we decorated gingerbread houses and took Jell-O shots from an ornately decorated glass that resembled the Grinch. These women know how to embrace a theme. As always, the ornament exchange itself is quite comical with people stealing gifts left and right. Hanleigh went to see The Nutcracker ballet with her best friend, Mila, and we hosted the annual family Christmas dinner, which is always two weeks before the actual holiday since everyone is so busy. This tradition started years ago once we all started having kids. Since Mimi is almost 95 years old, she finally decided she was done hosting, and I do not blame her. So we decided to be the host and it was such a great time. Kids running everywhere, and we even had an impromptu dance session to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas”, to which Mimi got up and danced. I’m pretty sure that was the highlight of the day!!! It really warmed my heart and will always be such an amazing memory! Later that evening, we stopped by the Whitcomb’s house to help celebrate Rob’s 50th birthday. Everyone there had been brewery-hopping throughout the day, so we met up with them once they got home.
We began the process of painting Hanleigh’s room. She had been requesting a redesign for a couple years, so we let her pick out all of her bedding and color scheme, and then started taping everything down and working on the edging. Trent had been making the point that we could have just hired someone to do it and it would have been done by now, which is 100% true and I do like to see a project get complete, but I also feel like there is a good balance in teaching your kids responsibility and life skills so that when they are adults they know how to do basic things in life like paint a room and other handy tasks. Is the room done yet? No, but it’s getting there. Kendall and I had our monthly dinner date at Ilios, which was delicious and of course we had a blast together (we always do!). A few nights later, we had the Farrells and Bartleys over for a delicious dinner and played the awesome game, Telestrations, which usually results in endless laughter and me trying not to pee my pants!
Kyle, Trent, Cammy, and I all went to Dad’s office for a few hours one day to go through the storage area and rehash some fun memories while determining what items we could take back home. We found some gems up there, including the toy chest that Dadaw built that has Kyle’s name on one side and my name on the other side. Growing up, there was an ongoing, unspoken battle where both of us would rotate the toy chest around so that our name was facing outward. The game will never end. Now, I have it at my house and it will always face the Becca side. Ha! I had dinner with Mom at The Garrison in downtown Pineville and we had such an awesome time laughing and catching up. She’s the best! The next day, I hosted the annual cookie bake/exchange for all my neighborhood friends and I’m pretty sure this was the the largest amount of cookies we have ever made. It’s a blessing and a curse, especially this time of year when everyone is eating and drinking way more than they typically do. Julie and I had dinner at Bonnie & Clyde, which was delicious. It’s a new restaurant near us and the food is pretty awesome. It was great to catch up with her as well. A couple nights later, I had dinner with all of Hanleigh’s friend’s moms (basically all the moms that we went to the beach with in November) and we had an awesome time as well. In keeping with the craziness of the holidays, the next night, we went to a holiday party at Mary’s, and the night after that we had dinner with Jackie and AJ at Suffolk Punch.
On Christmas Eve, we went to Rob Staley’s party and then headed to church for the service. It was beautiful as always and we had this awesome idea to do a repeat of what we did last year, which entailed getting Chinese takeout for dinner and then coming back to the house to watch Christmas movies. Best laid plans, though. The restaurant we went to told us that it would be about an hour wait, so we placed our order ahead of time in an effort to be prepared. When we got there, I asked when our food would be ready and they seemed to have no idea. Also, there were about 20 people waiting around the hostess stand wondering the same thing. There were multiple people that had been waiting for their food for over two hours. That’s ridiculous! So, after waiting for 45 minutes, we decided this is dumb and left. Not the best customer service, but we ended up just heading home and each making our own dinner. The cuddling on the couch and Christmas movie-watching took place and it was a great evening regardless.
On Christmas morning, in typical Jones-family tradition, we opened our stockings first, then made our tasty orange rolls and other items for breakfast, and then sat down to open the rest of our gifts. Everyone enjoyed opening their presents like bathing suits, beach wavers, shoes, a soccer goal, customize Taylor Swift concert cups from when we went in May…but, the best gift of all was the most sweet letter EVER that the girls wrote to both Trent and me. There is a picture of it in the post, so you can read it, but the gist is that they told us how much they appreciate us and how lucky they are to have us as parents. It made me start crying as evident by the video. Even though they don’t tell us this often, it’s so touching and heartwarming that they did this. They also even booked dinner reservations at one of our favorite places and gave us money to order the things that we love there. So thoughtful! They also planned a surprise family fun day! I’m a big proponent of “collect stories, not stuff” and this was the perfect example. It’s nice to see that we are instilling this in our children. Later that day, we had Trent’s parents and my mom over for chili and we played some fun games. It was a nice way to round out Christmas.
Later that week, we went to see the Willy Wonka movie with Erin and Cooper, and then made our way up on the 27th to Wintergreen, Virginia where Carol and Craven had purchased a beautiful mountain home. Trent had visited that resort in college, but the girls and I had never been before. It was beautiful! The Mazzolas came up from Chapel Hill (they had been visiting her family during the holidays) and stayed up there for two nights. We had the most amazing time! We all went tubing the first evening we were there and then came back to the house and had takeout. The next day, all the kids stayed at the house while we hired a driver to take us to a few wineries, distilleries, and cideries. The weather was a bit brisk, but we had an amazing time cutting up and laughing like we all do when we are together. Craven, we missed you dearly, but you were with us in spirit! The Mazzolas headed home, and our family along with Carol and Susu went to the indoor pool (their gym and that entire facility is really nice!) to hang out for a little bit. It even started snowing while we were there! We went back to the house for a little bit to chill out and the snow just continued to accumulate, so Trent, Carol, and I went into prevention mode by shoveling and salting the driveway. Once we knew it was safe, we went to The Devil’s Backbone Basecamp Brewpub for dinner. It was absolutely delicious and so cool! They even had a little bourbon-tasting cottage, which was super cute. The next day, we headed back home and did some things around the house. Then, on New Year’s Eve, we had dinner at Juniper Grill with the Whitcombs and their friends Corri and Rich, and then head over to the Farrell’s house to ring in the new year with everyone. It was a great end to a fabulous year and we are looking forward to seeing what 2024 brings. Happy New Year, friends and family!!!