The holidays are always over too soon.

Christmas day has always been my least favorite part of Christmas. Well, okay, when I was younger, the whole Santa and presents thing was pretty exciting, but upon waking in the wee hours of the morning and waiting for the sun to rise (my parents refused to get out of bed until there was light in the sky), my excitement was always mixed with a tinge of melancholy. Such a large part of this time of year is the anticipation; the existing in the midst of twinkling lights and festive music everywhere you go. Just like in life, the holiday season is really all about the journey rather than the destination.

This year I went home for Christmas - like, really went home. This wasn't the break between semesters or a triumphant return from studying abroad. This was me on a plane with six days' worth of clothing and way too many Christmas presents, knowing that I'd be leaving on a plane again in less than a week. I was pre-nostalgic and homesick before the trip even began because I knew the end would illicit those feelings, and I must say, I know myself well.

Also, lesson learned: next year, I will take more time off and go home for at least a week. Because friends, six days (four, really, because the two were travel days) just ain't enough time to catch up with every single person you've ever known. Toby and I split time up between our families and friends, and our schedule didn't really allow for much relaxing or partaking in zoning out and letting the holiday spirit flow, which to me is vital part of the season. You know, those hours you get to spend in front of the fireplace with Bing crooning in the background, a mug of tea, and a good book your eyes closed in blissful nap time peacefulness. That kind of holiday spirit.

The busy hours were necessary, though. The short amount of time we got to spend with each group of people was precious, and they left me with tears in my eyes and the realization that I miss being known. I have fantastic friends here in Los Angeles, but our relationships are still lacking in history, and oh, how I love inside jokes and shared memories. I've been subconsciously exploring a whole new Rachel since I moved, which has been incredibly fun, but also, I realized this past week, kind of draining. It's worth it, and I will continue to push myself and learn more about who I want to be and where I stand in relation to all of the new people in my life, but it was so wonderful to be able to sink into myself and fully relax and just be. I was also reminded of parts of my personality that I appreciate but haven't used as much as I would like thus far in this new life of mine. Through the haste and bustle, I was able to do a lot of introspection, and I think I came back to California a little wiser (which is usually the sign of a worthwhile experience, don't you think?).

Anyway, it was *insert positive adjective here* (sometimes - most of the time - I don't feel like there are enough of those to fully express my emotions, so I end up getting repetitive. I'll let you fill in the blank with your own vocabulary this time) to be home, and I shed a few tears upon leaving and upon arriving back at our apartment in Los Angeles, because as much as I love this city (ughIloveitsomuch), it was epically wonderrific to be home where the lovelight gleams; to hug my parents and sleep in my bedroom and be surrounded by all of the people who know me well and love me anyway.

Okay, enough mushy, corny (two words that I just realized gross me out when they are placed next to each other like that) stuff. Picture time*.

We actually had a dusting of snow, and it actually lasted almost all the way to Christmas day

Ping pong at Toby's parents' house - every time we go over there, I lose Toby to this room for hours at a time

My hometown from across the river
Trixie bell

Kezia and Harry at Brit's

Friend gathering at Brit's
Elenalove and I, unfortunately blurry as a result of my dirty camera sensor

The table at my parents' house, all set for our annual Christmas Eve oyster stew feast (aka: Rachel drinks all of the creamy milk and eats and oyster crackers and avoids the oysters)

The opening of the Christmas Eve presents

Uncle Mark & Aunt Lisa

Grandma Cindi

Papa J
Mama J

Fashionable brosef

My Christmas village, which my mom graciously set up for me this year, and which I will eventually relieve her of once I have the space (I promise, Mom)
My brother received an Xbox 360 for Christmas and Toby helped him set it up...and we never saw them again. 
Luxuriously loungin'
Fun with time lapse and light, courtesy of my brand new tripod, an excellent gift from Toby's parents

A tradition: the men singing We Three Kings at my grandparents' house (they love it, as you can see from the looks of pure excitement on their faces)

Christmas treat feast

My brother made these all by himself - no small feat

Alexis (the center of attention, being the only baby present on Christmas), and auntie Jessica

Grandma and Grandpa A
Present-opening time on Christmas Day

Alexis going for one of the many wrapping paper balls strewn across the floor after the presents were opened - another beloved tradition that is not limited to Christmas, and was started by my (ever mature) father

Handsome facial expression courtesy of my father's (ever mature) younger brother Mark

*It should be noted that I didn't take any photos of our time spent with Toby's family, and that makes me sad, because I had such a wonderful time and am now kicking myself for not documenting it. I've found that I have to be in the right mood to really enjoy taking photos, and as I've mentioned before, I'm not the best at documenting family get-togethers. Something to work on in the future.

A few things I'm diggin' right now, Christmas edition:

:: Drunk History Christmas, starring Ryan Gosling (and others, but let's be real, they don't matter as much)

:: Rare photos from the set of It's A Wonderful Life

:: "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" played on a glass harp. Seriously amazing.

:: And, of course, the song containing the lyrics that are the namesake of this post (Perry Como style, because this is the version I grew up with and immediately sing in my head whenever I think of this song - I also enjoy the Michael Bublé and She & Him versions):

Happy Chrismukkah (I love you, Seth Cohen, forever and always), Festivus, etc. etc.

making an animated gif

***One last thing: if you enjoy reading this blog (and I hope you do), but you find yourself either not on Facebook (bless you) or never remember to check blogs for updates (which is an affliction I happen to suffer from as well), I just added a fun little gadget over on the column on the right-hand side of this page (under the "about me" links and above the Blog Archive) where you can enter your email address and subscribe to this blog (which means that you'll receive an email alert letting you know whenever I post something new - one less thing to remember!). After you enter your email address, you'll get a confirmation email; simply click on the link provided, and shazam, you're subscribed!