It was a “grown up” feeling hosting Christmas for my family for the first time. Especially since for the first time, we have a home that can sleep everyone. But, with hosting a holiday, also comes creating new traditions and cooking a Christmas dinner that can stand up to your mother’s Christmas dinner…

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My family always has a standing rib roast, twice baked potatoes and my mom’s caesar salad. It’s the quintessential holiday meal, and it’s perfect. However, this year I changed it up and no one complained. We live right near a butcher who specializes in lamb, so I thought leg of lamb was a nice alternative to standing rib roast (and a lot easier for me to get!). I found this recipe, and it turned out pretty good! I also made my favorite brussels sprouts salad, and converted my dad into a brussels sprouts believer. I have to say the potatoes stole the show. Though what could be better than roasted potatoes coated in lamb drippings?

After Christmas day, I still had three more days with my entire family in Antwerp. We did a lot of walking around and exploring the city, even in the rain. We visited Rubens House, saw an organ concert in Our Lady Cathedral, shopped for Belgian delicacies like chocolate and lace, and took a quick day trip to Ghent, all six squeezed into our new Honda.IMG_4286

And in true Hoffman/Bruno spirit, we enjoyed many delicious meals. For Doug and Marcella’s last night, I made reservations at Boris, which came highly recommended to me. I gotta say, this may have been the best meal I’ve had in Antwerp. It was a four-course fixed menu, and every course was so perfectly prepared, beautifully plated, and simply delicious. It was a great night together as six and the perfect ending to my brother and Marcella’s stay.IMG_4332

Saturday, Garrett and my Dad drove the kids to the airport. Back at home, we packed for a night in Bastogne. If you’ve been reading the blog, I probably posted about our trip to Bastogne last year. Garrett, a few friends and I did a full day tour and it rained the entire day (and was freezing, and we were all underdressed). Despite the poor weather conditions of last year, I knew the Battle of the Bulge Tour was something my Dad had to experience. We had a different guide this year who offered a whole new perspective. He was a nine year old boy when his town (just outside of Bastogne) was occupied by Germans in WWII. He showed us different sites than last year and told new stories. It was an incredible day. DSCF0556DSCF0566

We ended my parents’ visit with a nice New Year’s Eve celebration at home. We popped the champagne we had bought over summer when we were all together in the champagne region. I cooked dinner at home, and then we headed to a friend’s party for a drink. We were back by midnight for one final toast and retired to the couches to watch “Band of Brothers” the episode on Battle of the Bulge.IMG_1782

And on New Year’s Day, our house was empty again. I’ve spent the past week doing lots of laundry and getting our lives back in order. As always, time with my family went by way too fast. But, we’re looking forward to 2013. For the first time in a long time, we have no plans! Hopefully we’ll start to put some trips together for the upcoming months. Until then, we’re finally relaxing… for now.