Carolina Christmas

***written while stuffing my face with the most incredible white mac and cheese in the SLC Delta Sky lounge…how is this stuff so good?***

It’s only appropriate to start this post with a Hey Y’all!

Christmas was amazing…minus the fact Lizz was starting a new job in Vegas (so proud but missed her). My parents came to Columbia for the first time. It was awesome. The weather was perfect and we had a ton of fun.

They landed and the first thing I got them was some Midlands BBQ with yellow Sauce (I love it)…I figure this was the best way to immerse them in Southern Living.

The next day we were off bright and early to enlist a cop I met when I was playing op for in the woods (she is on the inspector general team). My only stipulation was it had to be somewhere cool. Reenlisting is a big deal that is often played down. Committing more time to your country is huge 🇺🇸. She chose roof of the Wing building at sunrise.

My parents climbed up to the roof to watch. We toasted her career with mimosas and she swore to protect and defend for five more years.

We climbed down and it was bring your parents to work day. They even sat through staff meeting. We went to the flightline and watched four F-16s take off right in front of is then I dropped them off at the adult daycare…i.e. the golf course….where Dad got to see four pairs of F-16s roar around. He was in heaven with his free air show. Because of them I got off work early and got home in time to meet Auntie Judy (here for the promo).

Next day was my promotion. We killed time walking around Memorial Lake in the perfect 65 degree weather. Next thing I knew I was a Major (see previous post). For dinner we went oit for shrimp and grits at Cola’s, which are only second to anything in Charleston (ie bomb). We also got to check out the tree in front of the Statehouse to get in the Christmas spirit.

Saturday Auntie Judy went home and I looked up how to see the Biltmore at Christmas. Apparently others had done this too because they had been sold out of tickets for months (flashback to HI where everyone has the same ideas you do and everything is always crowded). Even Amex concierge couldn’t get them, but they did find out that they still had some at the desk and although it was a risk, we could still go. I started mentally planning for a relaxing weekend at home…knocking out grocery shopping and chilling…but then I made the mistake of googling what the Biltmore looked like during Christmas, pouted for two minutes then decided we were at least going to try. Worst case, we would drink some craft beer in Asheville (recommend actually planning ahead to see the candlelight tour at the biltmore).

We drove two hours, stood in line and it must have been a sad look I gave, but we got tickets!!!! The people next to us did not. We hung out in the village, ate at Cedric’s and went to the house at 7. It was magical. Christmas trees everywhere. Fires in the massive bigger than cars fireplaces! Live Christmas music. Gorgeous flowers. I will let the pictures do it justice instead of me.

We walked through and drove the two hours home. Mom was feeling super shitty so she slept and Dad and I sang the Beatles all the way home to stay awake.

Christmas Eve started stressful. My last minute adventure cause us to not go to the german market for polish sausage and pierogis (tradition for our little family). I was panicky. We went to four stores before we found some (lest we forget The Pierogi Incident of 2012). We went to candlelight services at the old church down the road then facetimed Lizz in for Christmas presents. Watched Die Hard with wine. Crashed hard.

Christmas Day was chill. We slept. Walked the boardwalk at Congaree. Had dinner at Tracy’s house, where I had low country BBQ for the first time with red gravy (new favorite how did I not know this existed?). And an excessive amount of coconut cake (I can’t even think about sweets right now I had so many).

The 26th…just as chill. Thank God. I needed rest. Main event? Eating at Cafe Strudel. People wait in line hours for this brunch (we didn’t) and it is that good.

Please note the over the top photo bomb.

Next day I dropped my parents off at the airport and tried to get ready for my Montana and Canada adventures. With the coldest winter in decades. I am ready. Adventure calls. Let’s do this.

Cheers, AJ

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