Our first Christmas in Charlotte 2021

Hello, my friends! I hope you’re doing well, and I hope you’ve had a nice holiday, if you celebrated. We’re finishing up our first Christmas in Charlotte, and it was a good one. My mom came up from Florida to join us for the festivities, and she’ll be here with us through New Year’s too.

We’ve had a great week doing all the holiday things. And while we were hoping for a chilly Christmas, it was actually pretty warm, and on Christmas Day, we went for a walk on the trail, and it was 70 and sunny. The extra good news for the holiday is that we were all healthy and well. I had been a little tired and not operating at 100 percent earlier in December, and I felt like I was back to normal this week, thank goodness. It always helps to feel like yourself to fully enjoy your activities. Health is wealth.

Overall, we didn’t fit in everything I had hoped to this holiday season, but we still sure did a lot this month (more holiday stuff than we ever did in California, for some reason). And today, I’m going to share a little recap of the last week of activities.

By the way: I’ll be back with some fresh content for you the first week of January, but will be taking the rest of this week off from the blog. As always, if you have any post requests, please let me know. Also, I was blown away by the super-sweet messages and comments from you all on my year-in-review post for 2021. I truly appreciate your support, and more to come next year! 🙂

Let’s do a little overview of some of the holiday fun we had in the last week …

Our first Christmas in Charlotte 2021

Seeing the “The Nutcracker” ballet

At the start of the week of Christmas, I felt like I wanted just one more fun and festive activity to look forward to before the actual holiday. I mentioned this to Dave, and then I did a little online research, and I quickly found tickets to a daytime showing of “The Nutcracker” show at the Belk Theater in Uptown Charlotte. I immediately texted one of our sitters to make arrangements for Brady, and then bought two tickets for Dave and for me. Plans made. (We have three sitters to call from, and we can usually find one when we need, which is so nice.)

Ashley at Nutcracker 2021 by A Lady Goes West

Ashley at Nutcracker 2021 by A Lady Goes West

We made a little day-date out of it and went to a nice lunch right across from the theater before the show, at a place called Essex. Our food was excellent. Also, the theater was very nice, and everyone was all dressed up in their holiday finery — so it made for very good people watching. I saw some killer outfits. And, Dave and I will be going back to the theater in May to see “Hamilton” — which is one of the gifts Dave got me for Christmas this year. Yay!

Essex lunch 2021 by A Lady Goes West

Essex lunch in Uptown 2021 by A Lady Goes West

While we did like the production, Dave and I laughed to each other a few times that the storyline of the “The Nutcracker” is very loose, but it was totally enjoyable to take in.

By the way, we did have to show our vaccination cards to get into the theater, and we had to wear our masks the whole time. It was a small price to pay to get out for a Christmas show. I think Brady may be ready to go to a show with us this time next year, but we’ll see. There were actually a lot of little kids in the audience who were so well behaved, and we were impressed that we hardly heard them at all. He’s not quite there yet, and he definitely would have talked the whole time.

Nutcracker 2021 by A Lady Goes West

(Here’s my dress. I’m wearing a size 4, and it’s super comfortable.)

Celebrating my 38th birthday

My birthday was December 23rd. And now, I’m another year older, and I can say for sure that I’m so much better off on this birthday than I was on my last one, which I celebrated in California. On my birthday this year, I taught a totally packed Shred class in the morning, which made my day.

Then, after a quick shower, I went out to lunch with my mom, Brady and Dave to The Lights Cafe, which was so good and we had been to once before. It’s a local spot, with the most creative healthy food options. Here’s my lunch bowl …

Birthday lunch 2021 by A Lady Goes West

Later that afternoon, during Brady’s nap, my mom and I went to Starbucks for holiday lattes, then we did a little shopping, and I bought some new boots at DSW (these ones) and some Christmas jammies for Brady at Old Navy. (Side note: I tried to get matching jammies for us all this day, but both Target and Old Navy were nearly sold out of jammies, so next year I really need to get my act together sooner on this.)

Birthday puppy 2021 by A Lady Goes West

That evening, we took a family walk, then we all went out to dinner together. Dave got me cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory as my cake, and well — that was a highlight.

Birthday cheesecake 2021 by A Lady Goes West

Birthday dinner 2021 by A Lady Goes West

(Wearing the boots I bought that day and an older dress from Lululemon.)

It was super low-key birthday, but it included so much of my favorite stuff — which is just what I wanted. I loved spending my birthday with my little fam and my mom too.

A chill but sweet Christmas Eve

Believe it or not, we’ve never made Christmas cookies together before. And on Christmas Eve, we decided it was the perfect time to do it. My mom and I went to Publix for some cookie mix and frosting (premade, of course). And we had such a fun time decorating the cookies with Brady.

Christmas Eve making cookies 2021 by A Lady Goes West

Christmas Eve Brady making cookies 2021 by A Lady Goes West

Brady was a bit heavy handed with the frosting, but it was a good time for him and for us. He also chose the perfect cookies to put on the plate for Santa, once we let them dry. 

That evening, I was planning for us to go check out the holiday lights at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, but when I went to buy our tickets in the morning, they were all sold out. I’m seeing a pattern of last-minute holiday decisions that need to be made earlier. Mental note made for 2022!

Christmas Eve at Blakeney 2021 by A Lady Goes West

Christmas Eve Blakeney 2021 by A Lady Goes West

(Wearing my favorite shoes of the season.)

Because we were at home instead of out, like I had planned, that night for our dinner, Dave bought some nice steaks from a local meat market, so we had those with baked potatoes and Brussels sprouts. It was an excellent meal. Once again, I missed the boat on a holiday activity for this day, but it was alright in the end, because we made do.

Christmas Eve steak dinner 2021 by A Lady Goes West

A sunny and festive Christmas Day

This is truly the first Christmas season where Brady got excited about Christmas and was totally into it — down to Santa, the presents and even our Scout Elf, Elfer, who had been hanging out in new places in our house all month long. And it warmed my heart to share the Christmas spirit with him, and it made it extra special for us too.

We told Brady ahead of time to make sure he stayed in his room until we told him he could come out on Christmas morning. And surprisingly, he listened. I went in to get him just before 7 a.m., and then we went downstairs to see that Santa had come. Brady loved seeing that Santa had eaten the cookies we left out for him, and the reindeer at the carrots too.

All Brady asked Santa for Christmas was a garbage truck, and Santa brought that. Then, between family and friends sending Brady too much, he had so many gifts to open. He loved everything, and now I need to figure out where to put it all. He’s been having a great time getting into all his new toys.

Christmas jammies 2021 by A Lady Goes West

We spent a little over an hour slowly opening all our presents, then Dave made us pancakes and bacon for breakfast, which was delicious. The rest of the day was pretty chill, and we went on a nice long sunny walk on the McAlpine Creek Greenway, we took naps, we did some FaceTimes with family, and then we had a delicious Christmas dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, made by our resident chef, Dave.

Christmas breakfast 2021 by A Lady Goes West

Trail hike on Christmas 2021 by A Lady Goes West

(Wearing this oversized sweatshirt, which I have in two colors. I’m wearing a size 8.)

Overall, it was a perfect Christmas and a perfect Christmas season. Not too much activity. Not too little activity. Lots of family time. Lots of chilling. And all the great food.

There are a few holiday activities in the Charlotte area we didn’t fit in (like a trip to The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, and the NASCAR holiday lights), but we’ve always got next year for those.

Christmas 2021 by A Lady Goes West

Family Christmas card 2021 by A Lady Goes West

We’re looking forward to a fun New Year’s Eve too, because not only will my mom be around, but my brother, Matthew, and his wife, Stephanie, and some other friends will be coming to Charlotte to hang out with us too. 

And one more thing before I go: I posted this to Instagram yesterday, and I feel like I want to post it here too. Don’t beat yourself up, my friends. 🙂 

Holiday week by A Lady Goes West

Thanks for stopping by the blog today! Enjoy the rest of your week, and I’ll see you back here next week for some fresh content. Be well! That’ll do it for 2021!

Questions of the day

How was your holiday week?18

What’s something you’re looking forward to in 2022?

Do you have any plans for New Year’s Eve?

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