Happy New Year everyone! I hope the holidays have treated you well… they sure did for me! Ben and I spent a week and a half in New Jersey and then brought in the new year in beautiful Hawaii! (If the saying is true that the way you bring in the new year is what sets the pace for the 12 months to come, then we’re doing pretty good!) But let’s back up a little, shall we?
Since the motorcoach we call home was parked in Oregon, Ben and I flew from Portland to Philly to spend the holidays with my family in New Jersey. Christmas is the best time of year at the Nace house, and I think the whole family agrees on that. Everyone is home, the atmosphere is warm, and we have a lot of fun holiday traditions. Even though it’s cold, I would never miss a Christmas with my family.
This year it was a little bitter sweet, since my grandmother just passed away in August. She was always a major part of the holidays, so things really didn’t feel the same without her. For decades, she would always prepare Christmas Eve dinner, which was a feast consisting of at least seven different kinds of fish and an irresistible array of side dishes. This year, the whole family chipped in to continue that tradition, and I think we would have made her proud.
Christmas morning is always a crazy gift-giving marathon. It takes hours to open gifts as everyone takes turns, going one at a time. We usually have a break for breakfast, and another for happy hour! What I love about Christmas morning is that everyone puts so much time and thought into their gifts. There aren’t really any “average” gifts. Lots of love goes into each one. My favorite gift of the day was what I got my dad. For decades, he’s had these 8mm film reels hidden up in a closet somewhere, containing memories of my parents’ wedding, me and my sister as babies, family that is no longer with us, etc. I had all that film sent away and converted to DVD format and made customs cases for each one. It was a great surprise for him, and we watched the videos that very night.
While we were in NJ, we paid a visit to our good friend Carl, whom I met years ago at Heritage Vineyards, where he serves as assistant winemaker. Carl has an amazing wine cellar in his home and since he will be moving back to Texas this year, we wanted to do a photo shoot in his cellar so he’ll have some nice memories to take with him to his next house. Ben specializes in a unique form of photography called lightpainting, and that’s what he did for this shoot. Lightpainting is where you take a completely dark scene and light it with flashlights and other light sources while the camera shutter stays open. I took some non-lightpainted shots to complement Ben’s image.
One more pre-Hawaii shot:
Before we left for Hawaii, and not one week before our wedding day, the guys took Ben out for a boys-only Philly craft beer crawl. They all piled into a stretch limo and had a field day! The “Groom” shirt was a gift from my sister, Laura.
I know you were probably wondering when I was going to get around to the Hawaii part of this post. On New Year’s Eve, at 4 in the morning, we all headed to the airport, bound for Honolulu. (When I say “all,” I mean my parents, my sister and her fiancee Rich, Rich’s parents Bill and Penni, my brother David and his girlfriend Cindy and of course me and Ben.) It was hard to believe this trip had actually arrived! Not only were we ready to be in paradise, but that meant our wedding was only days away!
We brought in the new year in Waikiki on Oahu. Stepping off the plane, I felt like Dorothy having just stepped into the land of Oz. NJ was so overcast, cold and colorless and Hawaii is, well… Hawaii. It’s beautiful, lush and colorful. We had dinner that night at the Hula Grill, which was open on one side to the beach and the ocean. At midnight, all we had to do was walk out onto the restaurant’s balcony and watch the fireworks show over the Pacific Ocean.
On New Years Day, we spent time wandering around downtown Waikiki, shopping and walking. My family had never been to the island of Oahu before, so they enjoyed exploring. While New Years Eve in Waikiki was great, Oahu is actually my least favorite of the Hawaiian islands. There’s just too much city for me, and while the North Shore is great to see for the waves and such, there are much more spectacular beaches elsewhere. This is certainly not a complaint though! Heck, it’s Hawaii… in January! Plus, we were definitely saving the best for last, as the Big Island was our next stop. While were in Oahu, we met up with our wonderful friends Eddie and Judy, who would be at our wedding and had also decided to visit Oahu first. I just love meeting up with our friends all over the globe, especially in a place as special as Hawaii!
On Jan 2., Ben and I made the short plane ride to the Big Island, where we would check in at the Hilton Waikaloa Village resort. This is where we would spend the larger part of our trip and we would be getting married (!!!) in the beautiful little chapel on the hotel grounds. But that, my friends, is a post on its own. More (lots, lots more) to come!