It is hard to believe that 2019 is almost over. We have spent the last three weeks traveling to visit friends and family. Our adventure started with a flight from Phoenix to Philadelphia. Every year Kathy's Philly Phamily gets together before Christmas to bake cookies. Her sister, Eileen, is the Captain of the Cookie Baking Team.
Dave and brother-in-law, Tom, are the chief cookie testers!
A trip back to Philly would not be complete without scrapple! Thank you Tom for making a special trip so we could enjoy this specialy treat.
The baking started bright and early on Saturday, December 7th. Kathy and Eileen were joined by nieces Vicki and Jen, along with sisters, Barb and Sue.
Niece Michelle arived later with the youngest cookie baker, Holly. Jen and Michelle get busy showing Holly the best way to ice the cut out cookies.
After hours of mixing, baking and decorating, it was time for the great cookie draft. Each member of the cookie team gets to fill their tins with their favorite cookies.
After cookie baking, we joined our daughter, Katie, at her apartment in Center City Philadelphia. The following week we puppy sat our two grandpuppies, Ruthie and Maggie, while Katie attended a work conference in Vancouver, BC. Here are the "two good bears" sporting their new Christmas bandanas.
While Katie was away, we had time to visit with more friends and family. We had lunch with an old work friend, John Zoller, at The Dandelion pub. John is getting ready for another trip to New Zealand where he hopes to catch up with Dave's sister, Lizzy.
We also drove out to Saint Joseph's Villa in Flourtown to have lunch with Kathy's Aunt, Sister Jane Hill. After working in various parishes in New Jersey, Aunt Jane is living the retired life with her fellow sisters at the Villa. We had a great time catching up on all the family adventures.
Katie won't be joining us this year in Yangon, so we had a pseudo-Christmas on Saturday, December 14th. While Katie was away, we finished up some Christmas shopping at the new and improved Christmas Village in Love Park. Nothing improves the holiday shopping experience like a warm mug of mulled wine!
In preparing for our trip to Philadelphia, we learned that the Philadelphia Zoo created a holiday light show called LumiNature. We were able to buy tickets ahead of time. We arrived at the Zoo just in time for sunset.
While the animals were sleeping, the grounds were transformed with attractions featuring lit-up sculptures, trees decked out in LED lights and other luminescent phenomena. There was even a giant talking polar bear at the center of a laser light show. As we made our way around the zoo, we met live performers dressed up like they were on Broadway. While technically a one-way walk, we sneaked back for soft pretzels and hot chocolate -- and did it twice!
Upon Katie's return, we prepared a wonderful Christmas dinner of roast beast and scalloped potatoes. Unfortunately, we had such a good time eating, drinking and opening presents that we forgot to take photos.
On Sunday, December 15th, we all got together for the Annual Paxon Hollow Pollyanna Party. For those not from the Philadelphia area, it is like a Secret Santa Gift Exchange. Michelle, Katie, Jen and Drew hung out on the porch entertaining little Holly and Adam --
-- while Kathy's sisters (and niece) shared in some holiday cheer. Merry Christmas Barb, Eileen, Vicki and Sue!
Three generations of Miller Men (Adam, Tom and Tom) settle in to watch some football.
Kathy's Brother, Steve, his wife Lea Ann and son Ryan relax after their drive up from Frederick, Maryland.
A new highlight of the party is the Pirate Beverage Pillage. Folks bring a mixed six-pack of their favorite craft beverages - soda, wine collers, mixed drinks and craft beers. You pick a beverage or steal one from your neighbor. However, a bottle (or can) can only be stolen three times. The game ends when everyone has their six pack filled.
At the end of the Pollyanna Party each year, the Miller Family takes their annual holiday photo. Each person is holding a different family photo from prior years.