Friday Five · Living in Alaska

Friday Five: Five Things About Our First Christmas in Alaska

Hi everyone!  Merry Christmas!  Despite the fact that most people have off Friday, I’m back to work for one more day (seriously?!).  And honestly, I’m probably leaving early because I’m not really in the mood to deal with people and pretend to work (I’m not teaching for another week so I have nothing to do but watch webinars and organize my office!).  And Christmas was…interesting.  I think it was the worst Christmas I’ve ever had based on how I felt all day, but if you take away all of my emotions it was probably the best Christmas based on all the great stuff that happened.  So yeah, it was pretty weird.  Now that it’s over I’m trying to focus on all the good stuff.  Since this week’s Friday Five Linkup with Courtney, Cynthia, and Mar is a free choice, I’m going to write about the 5 parts of this Christmas – our first Christmas in Alaska!  It’s kind of long FYI.

1.  Christmas Eve celebrations:  I left work early and since I had lots of extra time, I went to the DMV and got my Alaska state license!  Woohoo!

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It was so weird giving over my PA license – it feels so official!  I went for a run to celebrate, and then Andrew and I started our new Christmas Eve tradition of pizza, old school Christmas shows, and driving around with hot cocoa looking for Christmas lights!  We used to do the Christmas lights thing in Philly, so it was nice to do it here too.  And pizza is better than cooking for both of our families!  I managed to stay happy and excited all night despite the fact that I was missing my family.

2.  Hunting for Christmas lights:  They are pretty weak here compared to Philly.  Usually in Philly I could drive around my neighborhood for 10 minutes and see tons of crazy lights.  Here, we drove for 2 hours up and down almost every street and didn’t see that many impressive ones.

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Anchorage has barely any Christmas lights, but there are a lot of huge trees in people’s yards which are decorated!  It’s really cool to see and so many houses do it!

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This house had a choreographed show to music!  We originally drove to a place in south Anchorage that everyone talks about and it was pretty weak.  This one was much better – it’s right off the Seward highway near the Dowling Rd. exit.  You can see it from the highway!

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These lights were in Russian Jack Springs Park and I’m not sure what they are?  Monsters?  So weird!

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We drove by this house near the base.  Now this looks more like Philly!  Best house in Anchorage for sure!

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And this is something I’ve wanted to check out for a while – the big Christmas tree on the radio tower across the port!

3.  Christmas Morning:  Our tradition is to wake up, make cinnamon rolls, and open our stockings while they’re baking.  This year, we also opened our presents too!  We were impatient  🙂

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Andrew got me a shirt that says “Will run for donuts”, a Brooks Infiniti headband that says “run happy” all over it, really hardcore 3-in-1 mittens, and a headlamp!  Yay!

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I bought him a Ninja Master Prep blender/food processor and a deep fryer since he’s all about frying his own chicken wings.  And hey, if we start making our own donuts too that’s fine with me  🙂  At this point I realized it was snowing and we were officially having our first white Christmas ever!!!!!  It has only snowed 4 times this year and I couldn’t believe it was happening on Christmas morning!

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Then we Skyped my family while opening all the presents they sent us.  We were so lucky to have so many presents from them under our tree and it was fun opening them “together”.  After we were done we started talking about how much fun past Christmases have been…and we all started to cry.  I must have cried 4 times during the call, but the worst was when my parents and my sister all stood together holding each other and crying and I could see me crying in the corner…one sad family all together through Skype.  It was rough.  After we hung up I sobbed for a good half hour.  It’s like I couldn’t bring back that happiness I had earlier that morning at all.

4.  The Christmas hike:  After the snow stopped it warmed up to 40 degrees and the sun came out, so we went for a sunset hike on the coastal trail.  I liked this new tradition and want to do this every year!

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Andrew tried to cheer me up by building a cute little snowman along the trail.  We’re hoping someone will see it while they’re out running and will smile!

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5.  Christmas dinner:  We decided to do a turkey dinner for just the two of us on Christmas.  Unfortunately I spent most of the prep time curled up in a ball sobbing.  I haven’t cried this hard since we left Philly and it was terrible.  We tried to turn it around by watching Elf and walking around downtown.  But yeah, it was a pretty rough end to this Christmas.

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So this Christmas started out pretty well:  I got my AK license, got some awesome presents, watched all my favorite shows, and had my first white Christmas ever!  That’s one of the reasons why we moved here and I’m so excited it actually happened!  It was fun trying out new traditions and exploring more of our new city.  But I was so sad all day and missed my family so much that it really overshadowed everything.  I don’t know if I can do this again next year.  Andrew’s not sure if he wants to go home next Christmas, but I’m pretty sure I want to, no matter what it costs.  Moving was so hard and no matter how much we love it here, I feel like there are some things I’ll never get over.  For now, we’ll focus on getting through next year and see if we can make it home for Christmas.  And one of my friends is coming on Saturday (the one from Bethel) so I’m looking forward to having her around during New Years!  Thanks for sticking around to read this long, rambling post.  I hope you all had a merry Christmas and got all the things on your running wish list!

Have you ever spent Christmas away from home?  What did you get for Christmas this year?

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25 thoughts on “Friday Five: Five Things About Our First Christmas in Alaska

  1. XOXOXO It will always be hard when we can’t be with and see all out loved ones (I know it is for me too as our family has changed in the last few years). But just think….you were thinking about them and I bet they were thinking about you non-stop too….so you were both connected somewhat all during the day 😉 Not physically, but in the heart and mind which is more important! Merry merry merry Christmas my friend! XOXOXOXOXOXO
    (P.S. I was creepin’ and I see you’re a June baby! Yay! June babies rock 😉 6/6)

  2. Kristen, I can only imagine what you’ve gone through over the past few days; thanks for sharing it here on the blog. I don’t imagine there’s much that can make it better, but I’m glad to hear you enjoyed your gifts and that you (finally!) found some cool Christmas lights! I’m still waiting for my Christmas pizza, since I’m running my first marathon tomorrow and did not want to indulge…I’m ready, though! HA! Hope you have a blast with your friend and Happy New Year!!

    1. Well thanks for reading! I hate when I have to be homesick on the blog, it’s annoying but I want to look back on this next year and feel stronger for getting through it. Good luck with your marathon and have fun eating that pizza! After my last half I ate an entire one throughout the course of the day!

  3. I’m so sorry that you had to be away from your family this Christmas! You and your husband were able to start some new Alaskan Christmas traditions, though, and you should be proud of yourself for being able to move beyond the sadness of not being with your family right now. (Oh–and great driver’s license photo. How often does THAT happen?!)

  4. That’s such an awesome tradition to go on a Christmas hike! :] I’m gonna have to start that up with my family!

    That’s awesome that you got to have a white Christmas! It’s definitely hard to be away from family, but I’m glad you had a good time despite missing them! ❤

    Congrats on your new license! 😛 I'm still refusing to give my CA one up. 😡

    1. The hike was so awesome! We’ve been trying to find the best traditions to start together ever since we got engaged a few years ago, and this is the best one yet 🙂 I totally recommend it! And I wasn’t going to give up my PA license but once I get an AK license I can file for a PFD for the next year, which is a check that Alaskans get each year from the government from oil profits. It’s usually around $1,000 so I want to start getting that as soon as possible since I’m already living here!

    1. Haha I was so excited and I had to get it out somehow! Plus if I didn’t go right afterwards it would have gotten too dark out. Alaska problems 🙂 And yes, I’m so glad I got through it! Now I can focus on being happy in Alaska again!

  5. Hugs for the sad part, but your new traditions sound great! I’m sure next year will be even better 🙂 I feel you no the mixed emotions this Christmas, we had one of those too, but where able to salvage it with some awesome traditional Venezuelan food and fun watching the kiddos open and play with their presents.

    1. Yeah I cried writing that part…it was so sad. My husband said that they were probably just crying because I was crying, but I think they really miss me and are sad that I’m gone. My mom kept talking about all the traditions we used to do together and I could tell she wished I was home. I just felt so guilty for moving (again – I seem to feel this way a lot) and wished I had enough money to come home. I really hope I can do it next year! And having my friend here has helped a lot because I can’t be sad when she’s around!

  6. I’m sorry that your Christmas was so hard. It does get easier I promise. Holidays are when the distance really hits. But I can’t tell you how appreciative of the person who came up with Skype!

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