Christmas 2021!

Just a little post to look back on Christmas 2021—the boyfriend and I’s first Christmas since we moved back to Vancouver!

I was excited to be able to spend our holidays with all our loved ones. Christmas is all about big family gatherings, and it was refreshing to be properly back in our home city to celebrate with everyone. And then the December 17th’s new BC COVID restrictions came into place.

I totally agree with the restrictions. And honestly, it was a little concerning that we hadn’t heard news on new protocols given we were inching closer and closer to Christmas. Nevertheless, the disappointment I felt upon the announcement hit pretty hard. Our mom was already unable to join us for the 2nd Christmas in a row given she’s in another country and their vaccines were not recognized by Canada. December 17th was literally the day my sister was flying in to stay with us for the holidays too. As I received cancellations the same day from many of my friends and family’s upcoming social gatherings, I then had to pass the bad news on to my sister.

My sister’s boyfriend was also flying into Vancouver! It was the first time we’d meet him. His family is traditionally Jewish and we had instructions from my sister to amp up our Christmas celebrations so that he’d get to fully experience the holiday season! (Not to say that we did it against our will. We fully did want to go all out for our first Christmas back anyway!) That was a little hard given everything was cancelled. But we did what we could!

The boyfriend and I were exhausted setting up our apartment a week prior to my sister and her boyfriend landing. We had just gotten the keys to our new place, so it was a mad dash to make sure it was semi visitor-ready. This also meant that the tree was not yet decorated by the time they got here… oops! But it made for a fun activity: everyone helped to properly put up our first Christmas tree at our new apartment!

We had pre-bought tickets to the Vancouver Christmas Market back in October, which was luckily not cancelled! So we took her and her boyfriend down to Jack Poole Plaza and ended up eating a bunch of foods from the market together. We first got some savory items including cheese raclette, a whole pork hock, a bratwurst hot dog, and a hurricane potato. Then we shared a variety of desserts consisting of churros, a chimney cake, a croffle, and an inside-out cinnamon bun. All of this cost a pretty penny, but it was delicious nonetheless!

During my sister’s visit, we also went to watch Spider-Man: No Way Home together! We went to the VIP Cineplex theaters, since that provided spaced-out seats and was overall just a nicer experience. It was really hard for all of us to collectively avoid spoilers given we were watching the movie a good while after its initial release, but we managed it somehow.

There were some things on my sister’s boyfriend’s list that we went to check out for his first visit to Vancouver/Canada. This included visiting Floata Seafood Restaurant and seeing Granville Island—both places his uncle/family had been and he’d heard lots of great things about. It’s always nice to visit Granville Island! The Public Market is one of my favorite places in Vancouver—even if I can’t afford anything there :’ ) Floata in Chinatown though (while the food was decent) required us to go through one of the rougher neighborhoods in Vancouver: the Downtown Eastside. Not exactly a place Vancouverites are proud of, but it was a good learning experience to take him through the historical issues in our city.

On Christmas Day, the boyfriend and I hitched a ride from his brother-in-law and we headed over to his parent’s place for a Secret Santa gift exchange. BC regulations required that “Personal indoor gatherings will be limited to one household plus another household or 10 other people, if everyone is vaccinated.” So we made sure to stay within those guidelines and the sister and her boyfriend did not come to this event. This year’s Secret Santa theme was food, and I got delicious homemade poke from my boyfriend’s dad. I always rave about how he makes salmon so this was a very nice surprise to get my own tub of marinated fish!

We then headed home after lunch to make our own Christmas dinner. At first, we were probably going to spend Christmas day at some relative’s place at a large family gathering. But given the circumstances, we ended up grocery shopping and cooking our own feast. This was probably the most dishes the boyfriend and I had ever prepared for one meal and I’m pretty proud of what we accomplished! On the menu was:

  1. Mushroom soup (We bought a kit from this one place we love at the Vancouver Christmas Market!)
  2. Honeyed ham (I made this in our air fryer! Came out a bit drier than I would’ve liked, but I guess you live and learn.)
  3. Prime rib roast (It was the boyfriend’s first time making this and it turned out amazing!!!)
  4. Tomato bocconcini salad (We always substitute the “basil” with spinach since I don’t particularly like basil.)
  5. Roasted asparagus (This was easy as we air fried it!)
  6. Air fried Brussels sprouts (Love our air fryer.)
  7. Mashed potatoes (I cheated for this. But it still tasted good!)
  8. Carbonara (The boyfriend’s specialty! Although this time we tried a different parmesan cheese and it came out sharper than we would’ve liked.)
  9. Pineapple jello (My sister’s creation. She had this at her boyfriend’s family dinner and loved it. It was yummy but definitely strange).
  10. Black Sesame Christmas Cake from St. Germain bakery (I had wanted to buy a Christmas log…but I couldn’t find one anywhere 😦 )

We ended up with enough leftovers for the next 2 days, but that’s just a part of Christmas dinners I guess. We also assembled some gingerbread houses!

At our apartment, we actually opened presents on Christmas Eve and I hid the pickle ornament on the tree so that whoever found it first would get to open their present first! I did a pretty good job given I had all of like 20 seconds to hide it. Among the presents included an Exit escape room game: Dead Man on the Orient Express. We ended up doing it together one night and we were so sleepy. But at around 2 AM, we managed to solve the mystery!

On Boxing Day, we ate a lunch of leftovers, and then my sister and I (who are chronic nappers) ended up falling asleep on the couch next to my dad who was staying over. The boyfriend and the sister’s boyfriend was kind of like “??!?!?!?” when they realized we were all passed out, but they let us take a quick break :’ D

The last Christmas event of 2021 for us was a get-together to meet a few of our cousins on December 27th! They made us the coasters shown in the blog banner for this post! We had a lovely dinner with them and had a lot of fun opening the gifts for our cousin’s little girl. There was a hilarious moment where we played hide and seek with her and she closed the door with all of us inside a dark room. We asked her if she can open the door to let us out and she said “I cannot. I can’t see.” We bursted out laughing at how comical that was! She’s almost 3 years old and super cute :3

And that’s it for our second pandemic Christmas! It was disappointing that COVID seemed to be taking a turn for the better, only for the Omicron variant to flare things up again. Nevertheless, it was a Christmas to remember. Wishing everyone and their families managed to have a lovely holiday season as well!

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