Christmas in Lake Tahoe

This was the first year Chase and I were able to spend Christmas with his side of the family. We have gone to California plenty of times in the last three years, but getting time off for a major holiday has never been on the radar for us. Each year he works most holidays, but this was the first year he was able to get not only Christmas off, but Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve! That has never happened in our three years of marriage, so to say I was excited is an understatement. When we contacted my in-laws to tell them we would be coming for Christmas, we threw out the idea of going to the mountains. Everyone was game, so we made plans to go up to Tahoe and all pile into a cozy cabin for Christmas. Picture this: Twelve adults and five dogs. It was a madhouse – in a good way. The week was full of snow, games, delicious meals, and lasting memories. Oh, and an engagement. This was the first Williams Christmas with all “original” Williams kids and their spouses/fiances – Jenny and Ben, Kurt and Hanna, Chase and me, Garrett and Rae, Alicia and Lucas, and the leaders of the pack, Rick and Dee. Can’t forget man’s best friends: Wally, Luna, Bowie, Jak, and Gemma. This will be a vacation we tell our kids about one day.

We flew into Southern California, and started our long, nine hour drive to Tahoe with Rick and Dee the Thursday before Christmas. We packed everyone’s luggage, all the snow clothes, presents, three of the five dogs (Kurt and Hanna live in Tahoe), and the food. At one point during the drive, Luna was sitting in Chase’s lap. We took that day to get to Tahoe and settle in the cabin.

Friday was skiing day! Lucas, Rae, and I had never skied before. I spent the majority of my day on the bunny slopes, fell more times than I’d like to admit, and definitely cried when I tried to go down the green from the top of the mountain.¬†Honestly, I didn’t want to go down the green. I only went down because I wanted to be with family. So I suffered in silence while my husband was telling me how good of a job I was doing.¬† Aside from the bruises and moment of tears and frustration, I still had fun. I would do it again, but maybe only half a day instead, to get my legs under me. I still have the battle scars a week later. After a long day of skiing and watching the boys go down the black diamond at the end, we headed back to the cabin. I needed to thaw.

Saturday was spent out in the meadow, playing in the snow with the dogs and sledding. It was a nice day outside, and the blanket of snow made for some beautiful photos. I love the “winter wonderland” look. The dogs (and Lucas) were able to run around and get their energy out before we headed to the hillside to sled. Lucas was still going like the energizer bunny; I should’ve counted how many times he went down that hill. I sled twice with Chase just for the fun of it, but I wanted to spend my time getting shots of family. For the record, if you ever go sledding, DO NOT walk back up the hill right in the middle. You’ll become a human bowling pin. Don’t do it.

Anyway, there are some great shots. I think my favorite is Jack and Rose on the Titanic…wait, I mean Chase and Lucas on the sled.

On Christmas Eve, Kurt took us on a mild hike with a gorgeous view of Donner Lake. We walked through old train tunnels out to the edge and enjoyed the view and the snow. Along the top of the train tunnels were small openings that were just big enough to fit a purse. I don’t remember how this got started, but the boys were throwing snowballs seeing who could clear the small openings without the snowball hitting edges. Soon, Alicia and I both joined in…the result of growing up with three older brothers. It became a competition (not surprising), and we spent probably thirty to forty five minutes throwing snowballs into holes. I think Kurt won with a grand total of five snowballs.

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and getting ready for the evening activities. We headed to Sand Harbor to take some family photos, which we did…but the real reason we went down there was so Garrett could propose to Rae (which we all knew was happening). It was so sweet, and yes I have photos that I will be sharing in a separate post. I won’t share too much in this post, but all you need to know is that she said yes! After the engagement, we headed off to celebrate and spend the evening together as a family. Chase and I challenged Lucas and Alicia to a foosball match where we each won a game. Now, leaving it as a tie is not something Williamses do – even my side of the family wouldn’t allow such heresy – so we decided on a tie-breaker of darts. With a big sigh, I am disappointed to inform you that Lucas and Alicia kicked our butts. Consider it a wedding gift, you two.

We had dinner reservations that evening, so we made our way to the restaurant and waited for them to get our table ready. The age gaps within the siblings is not that much, so having siblings who are in similar life stages is so much fun. We spent time talking about weddings (three of the Williams kids are engaged!), marriage, the future, and everything in between. A toast to Garrett and Rae’s engagement was the cherry on top, and we continued our evening together, chatting and laughing until the end.

One thing I will never forget from this trip is playing games at night. We are competitive, but we are just as loud. Lucas introduced us to a game called Spot It, which got really loud considering you have to shout something every time you make a play. Just imagine hearing “cheese!’ shouted over and over. And then there’s that family member that makes up things during the game – but when that happens you can’t help but laugh so hard you might cry. Black Fish? Where did that come from? No one will ever know…

Then came Guesstures. This time the entire family was involved. We were desperately guessing the words on the card and we had the best player in the family: Chase’s dad. “LINT!!” No. “POCKET!” No. Next card. “ICE SKATING!” No. All four cards went by and none of us got a single one right. Rick said he was acting out Zamboni for one of the cards. We looked at the card and it said ZOMBIE. An uproar of laughter ensued – I got my ab workout in for the month. He had been acting out something totally different from the card. He always makes the games more fun.

Christmas morning finally came! We woke up and had breakfast first (a first for me), and then opened presents. It was a slow paced morning, with no major agenda. We went and saw the new Star Wars movie, and had prime rib for dinner. Ben is an amazing chef and he loves cooking for people who like to eat. The Williams have no problem putting down a thirteen pound prime rib. Lucas, would you like some more prime rib? “You can bet your bottom dollar!” I don’t know how many times he said that phrase in the span of six days.

We would be feeling it the next day. And the next.¬† Christmas in Tahoe couldn’t have been any better. Being with family is the most enjoyable thing around the Christmas season, especially when it’s a big family. I have known the Williams since I was nineteen. I remember when Alicia got her braces on AND off. I remember when Garrett first came to CBU. I remember when Jenny got her own place, and when Kurt left for Chico. My first three or four dinner meals at their house all consisted of pork chops (we laugh at that now). Chase and I don’t live close to them, and haven’t had a chance to spend a single holiday with them since we’ve been married…until now. That’s what made this Christmas so special. It was a first. Mom and dad were happy, and I know everyone else was too. It will always be a fond memory when we look back at the Christmas that was spent together in Lake Tahoe. Rick’s “Zamboni,” or Lucas’ famous phrase “bet your bottom dollar!” And the sweetest addition of another engagement in the family! This Christmas was one for the books.

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