Christmas Vacation: Day 1

Here we are: the Griswolds Browns getting ready to head to Vermont for the first leg of our Christmas vacation.

Notice that Buddy is attempting to remain unobtrusive, hoping to slip out the door with us.

Not a chance, Bud. We wouldn’t want to deprive Uncle Jeff of all that quality time with you.

Darkness fell as we drove the back roads of New Hampshire and Vermont. A full moon shone in the sky and every so often the silvery night would be punctuated by bright Christmas lights strung merrily along trees, porches, and windows. We listened to Christmas music as we drove and my heart overflowed with gratefulness and anticipation.

We awoke bright and early and headed out to breakfast. It was so early there was no one in the streets:

But the sun sure did look pretty rising over the Green Mountains:

As evidenced by this fountain in someone’s front yard, it was cold!

We headed to one of our favorite breakfast places:

And here is my family walking “up for breakfast”:

It’s a cute little place with delicious food and a small town feel…

After breakfast we headed for Connecticut.

On the drive there, the Brown family ended up behind the Brown bus:

We  decided to make a short stop  in Northhampton, Massachusetts. Back in 2007, we flew to New England from south Florida for our niece’s surprise wedding shower.

We had lived in Florida for nearly five years by that time and we were so homesick for New England. Right before we left, Doug had agreed to interview for a job in New Hampshire. The interview would take place a few weeks after we were in Massachusetts. We wanted it so badly. New England was home and while we experienced many blessings living in Florida, it never felt like home to us.

The cold winter weather was a shock to our systems but Josh and Julia have always loved winter and were desperately hoping for snow.

We checked into the Hotel Northhampton only to find that  we were given a smoking room. We immediately placed a call to the front desk and were told that the only room available was the bridal suite, which they would upgrade us to at no extra charge.

The room was gorgeous and spacious. The best part for the kids was the fact that the room came with a balcony that overlooked part of the town. That especially came in handy the next morning when we woke up to snow.

The kids were overjoyed and immediately went outside to play in it.

It was a gift from Heaven, an answer to their prayers. I remember watching them being so filled with happiness and praying fervently to God, telling Him how much we wanted to move back home. I was so afraid it wouldn’t happen and was scared to get my hopes up.

His still, small voice told me, “Trust My heart.”

I did…and He sent us back home later that year. I still praise Him for that every single day.

So, it was sweet to go back and see that place where we had so many fun memories and hopeful dreams…

Hotel Northhampton

Next stop was New Canaan, CT where Doug and I lived for two years when we were first married.

It’s a charming little town and we were looking forward to taking a trip down memory lane…

We visited the place we used to live…

We lived in this two bedroom apartment with our Border Collie Charlie…

Charlie and his favorite toy

Charlie was an absolutely amazing dog…crazy (in a good way), incredibly smart, tons of fun, and very protective. .

To be honest, we had no business having a Border Collie while living in an apartment, spacious though it was. Border Collies require a ton of exercise. Fortunately, our apartment was the right across the street from Mead Park…

Charlie and I spent hours here and he loved it. He could run, sniff, fetch sticks, and stealthily stalk squirrels.

I could still see him in my mind’s eye as we walked through that familiar park.

We still miss Charlie to this day.

Next up, we took the kids to a lovely place in town that the natives call “God’s Acre” because there are three churches on one acre of land.

One of the most magical experiences my family has had on Christmas Eve took place on God’s Acre back in 1993.

It was my first Christmas away from home and my parents and brother had come up to spend Christmas with us.

Every Christmas Eve, everyone in the the town is invited to God’s Acre to sing Christmas carols in front of the huge, brightly lit tree on the property.

That evening,  as we gathered with the townspeople, we were given a candle to hold as we sang the familiar carols.

Would you believe that just as we all started singing, it started to snow?!

It was magical, like being on a movie set.

After singing the last song, “Silent Night” we blew out our candles and walked back to our apartment while the snow fell all around us.

It is still one of our favorite memories.

On the way back to the car, Julia wanted to try to recreate the “Abbey Road”  album cover with her dad:

I don’t think she quite pulled it off. 🙂

Before we left town, we went to the largest park in New Canaan called Waveny Park. There are loads of hiking trails and picnic areas, including a lovely mansion that once belonged to a family but was given to the town back in 1969. It is now used for weddings and events.

It’s a beautiful place…

This reminded me of a Romeo and Juliet balcony

Julia and Doug

Our last stop for the day was Stamford, Connecticut. After checking into our hotel, we went to one of our favorite malls, Stamford Town Center, which has 9 stories…

These pictures were taken on the 9th floor…right before the security guard came up to us and told us that that floor was no longer open to the public.


After doing some Christmas shopping and having dinner, we headed back to the hotel.

While waiting for the shuttle to come pick us up, Josh agreed to let me snap his photo wearing the new hat he purchased…

Is it just me or does he look like the main character in the “Despicable Me” movie?

Here he is looking much more like himself during dinner…

Earlier in the day when we were having lunch at a Chinese restaurant in New Canaan, we each opened our fortune cookies at the end of the meal. Mine read:

“There are many golden hours ahead for you.”

I don’t believe in that kind of stuff, but I must say, as we head into New York City tomorrow, I am looking forward to the golden hours ahead.



Filed under Christmas Vacation 2011

2 responses to “Christmas Vacation: Day 1

  1. The Elaine

    Enjoyed this a bunch!

  2. Destiny

    This “honorary Brown” is enjoying vacation!

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