Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas Magic

 This weekend just became my very favorite Christmas ever. Brad and I have been plotting since September. We decided that our Christmas gift to the kiddos would be a night at the Biltmore, and we managed to keep it a secret from the kids!

 When they woke up Saturday morning, we told them to get dressed in the clothes we laid out and hop in the van, which we had decorated:

 It was hysterical. They were so anxious as first. They truly had no idea where we were going. They finally put the pieces together when we were about 30 miles away from Asheville. We started the weekend at our favorite crepe place in Asheville, and then we checked into the Village Hotel on the Biltmore estate. The hotel was absolutely beautiful and the whole thing smelled like pine and gingerbread. Every single person we met was unbelievably kind, including the staff member that stepped away from her counter to take this picture for us:
 Issa loved all of the owls in the trees, and I am so grateful for the picture since our selfie game was not strong:
 We spent Saturday afternoon exploring the Village. We found a few new wines we loved at the winery and joined the wine club, and we played many fun games from the turn of the century. The kids also wanted to take the traditional pictures with the statue of Cedric, the family dog:

 The kids were most excited about making their own Christmas poppers:
 After a fabulous dinner at Cedric's Pub, we were able to tour the Biltmore home by candlelight:
 The pictures just don't do it justice. I spent half the evening teary. It truly is magic and beautiful and perfect. Watching the kids' eyes light up as they saw the giant trees was amazing:

 There are 62 trees throughout the home:

 The mantles were all stunning, and seeing them in the firelight was remarkable:

 And the trees on the front lawn were not to be missed:
 The kids loved exploring among the trees:
 And we were all swept up in the magic:
 The next morning, we had a lovely breakfast at the hotel and then went back to tour the home in the daylight. Issa actually kept a tally of the trees. We found all of them! We ended our time on the estate with brunch at Deerpark. It was an incredible buffet. The kids were delighted by the peel and eat shrimp, and Brad was thrilled to find prime rib. We are still trying to figure out how they made my herb-crusted turkey, and the stuffing was quite possibly the single best bite I've ever put in my mouth. Except for maybe the peppermint s'mores pie.

On our way home, we stopped by the Grove Park Inn to see the National Gingerbread Competition winners. We have watched the competition on tv, but to see it in person was super cool. This year's winner was very impressive:
 I loved the reindeer piece:
 And we are all still trying to figure out how they made this poinsettia:
We are very glad we saw all of the gingerbread--once. The crowd was insane--especially compared to the Biltmore.

This was one of those weekends that defied the rules of time. We were only gone one night, but we made so many memories. The kids thanked us over and over for the best Christmas ever, and we all agreed it was truly magic. The lights and the music and the time to just be--to soak it all in. Christmas perfection.

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