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My First White Christmas

To start off the Christmas season, I had the privilege of witnessing the gloriousness of Mitch's Light Show. Every year the house is adorned in Christmas lights which are synchronised to various songs using computer software and many hours of dedication pairing each song with a section of lights note by note to create a spectacular display of exterior illumination. Spanning 50 minutes or so, people may use a set radio frequency in their vehicles to sit out the front and watch as the lights fade in and out perfectly to the music coming out of their own speakers. Mitch and I got our hot chocolate ready and after hearing about this wonderful show from his stream for a few years now and watching some of the many songs he had synchronised on his YouTube channel, I actually got to see it with my own eyes. It was every bit as amazing as I imagined it would be. 'Christmas at Hogwarts', and 'The Polar Express' were my favourite ones!

Next on the agenda was sledding down a snow slope! It was so much fun even though we fell off many times and the handles on the sled broke due to it being so old and not used in 20 years. This was very much a kid's sled, but Mitch and I managed to go down the slope in tandem regardless, and subsequently wrecked the sled by the end of the day. Walking back up the hill over and over was certainly the least fun, after being winded with exhilaration from flying down the slope and coming to a tumbling stop, covered in cold, wet snow every time made that walk much more difficult, but oh so worth it! The drive home with pants soaked through to our skin was also somewhat uncomfortable, but knowing that I'd soon be by a fire sipping on hot chocolate helped a bunch!

At one point we revisited the Mall of America, although this time we were able to go on one of the rides and visit the Aquarium too. The ride we chose was one of the more thrilling coasters. We had a choice of that one or a longer but more tame one, but opted for the one with loops and drops. It was hard to believe that I was inside of a mall riding a whole roller coaster! Once we settled our adrenaline rush and had lunch, we went to visit the aquarium underneath the mall. We stayed there for over an hour and a half, just watching the fish swim above our heads - it was very peaceful and relaxing, although we felt a little guilty knowing we had just eaten sushi for lunch... Since we had spent an entire day here previously, we only did a little bit of shopping before heading home.

We did many fun holiday activities, including visiting a light installation at the Arboretum. Unfortunately for me it was one of the coldest days of the season, and at -25° C my Australian feet did not fair well. I didn't make it even halfway through the installation before losing feeling in my feet and subsequently crying to Mitch at how uncomfortable I was and needing to go inside to warm up. I'm sure it looked lovely though!! I just couldn't bear to be outside longer than five minutes!!

On a less cold day, but still below freezing, we were able to visit the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train. We waited in the cold for the train to come past which was donned with Christmas lights and put on a show after it stopped. We didn't stay for the show as we were very cold at this point, but it was quite a sight to see a train covered in lights!

As a special treat, however not holiday related, we went to a dinner theatre to see Footloose. Having never been to one of these before, I really enjoyed the experience of having dinner served at our own little booth and then were able to watch a performance on stage.

About a week or so before Christmas, we had snowfall good enough to make my first snowman!! It was surprising how heavy the snow becomes after pushing it around to make a ball of snow. Mitch's snowman was much larger than mine, yet I still struggled to lift the head onto my own snowman, his was damn near impossible! It began to snow sometime during the creation of the snowmen and I was excited to see my first proper snowflakes land on my gloves with all the pretty geometrical shapes. They were so fascinating! Mitch had a fancy camera so we could get some beautiful close up photos of them.

The snowfall continued through Christmas week, forcing road closures and causing Mitch's brother Alex to need to make the 4 hour drive from his home in Iowa to where we were in Minnesota a few days early to avoid the blizzard conditions. Mitch and I were still finishing off his Christmas gift at this point, we painted a bunch of Dark Souls miniatures, and had to do our best to hide them from him! Everything was feeling so Christmassy, the snow, the cold, the hot chocolate, the fire blazing, and a Lord of the Rings marathon, but the family festivities started on Christmas Eve where we had a feast of appetisers. I made my contribution by cooking some Aussie sausage rolls, but we also had pigs in a blanket, sliders, taco pastry rolls for which the name escapes me, rubens which are a concoction of bread, sauerkraut, meat, and cheese, and a whole lot of tasty desserts like muffins, jelly in wine glasses, and my attempt at my Baba's Baklava recipe which got a little lost in translation so I didn't quite do it justice, but it was a hit with Mitch's dad nonetheless. This is a tradition usually done on New Year's Eve, but since Alex moved away it had been changed to Christmas during the time he's in town. Christmas Day saw the continuation of the bounteous feasting but first up was the giving of gifts. Mitch and I finally got to reveal the miniatures we spent over 30 hours painting to Alex, I had painted some wooden ornaments for Mitch's parents, and I had bought Mitch an amber fossil that was 30 million years old as well as a compass engraved with our initials and a quote from a song that holds meaning to us both. I was also very generously showered in gifts from everyone. I received a Vincent Van Gogh Pop Vinyl, a sweater with the phrase 'Always Cold' printed on the front, my very first Lego set, a bunch of socks, a Hogwarts pop up map book, some photo ornaments of my kitties at home sent by Mum, and my very own Alexa to ask for dumb jokes and silly things that Mitch and I would spend hours laughing over each night before bed. We also had a scavenger hunt around the house set up by Alex using quotes from the Lord of the Rings to give us clues as to where each subsequent clue was hidden. At the end we had to crack a code which took us a fair amount of time, but I found the whole process to be really fun and was definitely added to my core memories of my first White Christmas.

The feasting followed the gift giving and included so many tasty foods. We had two types of roast meat, my favourite dish from Thanksgiving - the sweet potato casserole, all sorts of roast vegetables, baked potatoes, cranberry sauce, and crescent rolls which I took quite a liking to (we don't have these in Australia!). Dessert followed shortly after with a beautiful strawberry pie. Australia doesn't commonly do different flavours of pie beyond your average apple, so I was excited to try something different and I very much enjoyed it! After we ate, we had a visit from our friend Cody who I was delighted to see once more before I left.

To finish off the day we were blessed with the most beautiful sight of snow falling on Christmas Night. It couldn't have been more perfect! I made Mitch follow me out to the lamp post nearby which was glowing yellow in the quickly darkening night, casting blue shadows everywhere that the light couldn't reach, and had him take photos of me in my red tartan dress and Santa hat. It looked like a scene from Narnia, I felt as if I had walked through a portal and happened upon some magical land. I couldn't have ever dreamed of a more perfect Christmas sight to behold and it is something I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. This moment was every bit as magical as I imagined it to be as a little girl wishing for snow on Christmas Day and I am so thankful for the opportunity to experience it and all the other wonderful things I was able to do in America. From TwitchCon to Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas, I never thought I would be able to do any of these things, and am so grateful to the generosity and love that enabled me to live this dream.

New Years approached faster than I would have liked, but it was quaint and quiet and we enjoyed cuddles, movies, and dancing to one of our favourite songs at the stroke of midnight. I knew my time here was coming to an end but I was determined to soak up every moment I had with Mitch and was very glad to start the New Year with him. We had achieved so much in 2022 and the experiences I had were all thanks to him. Raiding him on Twitch in 2020 was the best decision I made, and I could have never guessed the things I'd see because of that decision. I could not thank him enough for such a wonderful time.

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