Last week, as I wrote about, Leon and I found ourselves preparing for our first Christmas as an engaged couple with two sets of families (in two different states) to visit.  I’m happy to report that, besides being delayed en route from Denver to Colorado Springs due to ice, things overall went pretty smoothly.

We knew heading out that spending Christmas together with each of our families would be new territory for not only us, but our families as well, and to be honest we didn’t really know what to expect.  We prepared to the best of our ability, i.e. trying to get everyone gifts that would travel easily, confirming flight information, and just not having expectations over how things “should be.”

The week absolutely flew by, as holiday times tend to, and it felt like we were arriving back in D.C. right after waving goodbye.

Our first stop was McKinney, where we spent some time with my family.  It was a good visit, and I’m glad that we were able to have face-to-face time (as everyone who lives far away from family knows, it often feels like you inhabit a separate world from your loved ones and it’s difficult to figure out a way to merge the two).  We exchanged presents, and my heart melted when my parents gave Leon a gift for the first time, as it symbolized that soon he would officially be a part of the family.  We enjoyed some Tex Mex, saw a movie as a family, and just hung out.

After spending Christmas morning in Texas, we caught our flight to Colorado and made our way to Pueblo to visit Leon’s family Christmas evening.  Since the ice delayed our trip by a couple of hours, by the time we got to Leon’s parents’ house it was pretty late and I don’t think either of us really knew where we were.

We had a great visit with Leon’s family in Pueblo, and enjoyed catching up with neighbors and friends that Leon had known since childhood.  Being in small town Texas and small town Colorado is so different from D.C., and it’s easy to forget amidst the hectic pace of Washington that we both grew up in places where things just didn’t move so frantically.  It was a nice change of scenery, to say the least.  I was also reminded of how blessed I am to have great in-laws–they welcomed me into the family from the beginning, and Christmas was no exception.

It’s also fascinating to observe your fiancé in his hometown.  I knew early on that Leon had grown up playing the organ, but I actually had the chance to hear him play at his parents’ house.  It was amazing to peek into that part of his life, long before we ever met, when he would diligently practice hymns and other songs.  (I’m also glad that one of us is musical–my parents kindly paid for seven years of piano lessons that didn’t really yield much besides a few piano recitals where people had to clap because it was polite).

Before leaving Colorado, we were able to meet up with Abby and Brian, friends of mine way back from Baylor days.  We grabbed some fondue in Colorado Springs and caught up in person for the first time since their wedding six years ago, and like it always goes with good friends, it seemed like no time had passed.

Then, in the blink of an eye, our plane jolted down on the runway in D.C. and our first Christmas as an engaged couple running around the country was over.  As we celebrated New Year’s with Rose, Chris, and Adam in D.C., Texas and Colorado seemed eons away.  I found myself, as I often do after visiting family, torn between two feelings:  happy to be “home” but sad to have left loved ones behind.  (I also found myself at the gym–who can resist either Texas pecan pie or Pueblo green chile gravy?)