Oh Christmas 2015. The year my grandma died, and the year my mom put on a joyful and hysterical violin concert for us in her living room after quietly taking lessons for a year. 

Just the right mix of the necessary ingredients.

All of my thoughts are a jumble still and I'm just now finding my New Years footing. There's an essay bubbling, it's like, right there. But in the meantime I wanted to share a few photos from our Christmas. Including but not limited to . . .  surprise violin concertos!

Oh my gosh, my Julie. I have never laughed so hard OR felt so much love + pride for my mom + this family she created than I did that night. This is going to be one of those flashes of life that I see right before I die. 

(from Sycamore Street Press! best house slippers ever)

Lots of cozies and lounging around the house. Stretchy pants for dayyyyys.

We did our traditional Christmas Eve caroling through the neighborhood.

complete with cinnamon rolls! and devil huck! aaaand yeah. this year we matched.

Christmas Morning was beautiful and quiet.

Brandon was a fabulous grouch that morning, it was actually fully wonderful. (Who saw that one snap from Christmas morning? I'm still dying over it.) 

As always, presents were followed by our traditional egg and ham sauce Christmas breakfast. 

We did a lot of looking through of old family photos, and we talked for hours about our crazy Grandma Shirley, about how funny yet horrifyingly terrifying she could sometimes be. ;)

shirley on her 13th birthday
shirley + grandpa dave with me + amanda when we lived in south korea 
ps these next photos are fully unrelated, but my mom and I took some eeeeepic baby portraits together...
right? come on

After Christmas we drove down to Grants Pass, spent an afternoon at grandma + grandpa's just grandpa Stanger's house now.

epic floral wallpaper in the bathroom
and . . . well, everywhere, really
us in grandma's work space, cue a little heartbreak 
grandma's crazy insane + perfect decorating sense
the fanciest rogue river hotel room EVER on the PLANET

And then we said goodbye. 

It was very sweet. A beautiful service. The Lovin sisters sang a few songs, the family shared all the best Shirley stories, there was a lot of love that day. I touched her cold hands as I said goodbye. She looked so small and tight. I got to tell her she was a stinker, and that I loved her so much. It has truly been an honor to be her granddaughter. 

ps this was funny --

To me, anyway. :) Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, The prophet Joseph Smith, President George W. Bush . . . . and me. Thanks grandpa! That's some good old-guy company to be in!

Well, so hey. Merry Christmas from us Holbrooks. Bitter and sweet and filled with love + laughter, tinges of heartache, and lots and lots of turkey.  Can't complain. ;)


  1. good grief natalie! i gots the tears. it actually feels kind of weird writing your name since we are complete strangers and this is my first comment ever. i'm more of a lurker i suppose! anyway, that was really beautiful. thanks for sharing. it ain't easy. but us lurkers and superfans love it and love you for it. happy new year stranger!

    xoxo, sonia

  2. Thank you for sharing this with us. What a lovely family you have, and I'm so glad you have each other during this difficult time.

    (Also, those baby pictures of you and your mom are everything. Just perfect.)

  3. Your Christmas looks like it was lovely! -Hanna Lei

  4. Loved the tribute to your Grandma. Dang, was her house awesomely Grandma-ish.

  5. I mean. For real.
    Epic and beauty full.

  6. Ohh your family! I read this and in encapsulated everything that family should be. And your baby pictures: perfection. L x

  7. i'm sorry about the loss of your grandmother. her house was so beautiful and it felt like a time warp to the 50s. :) your snaps are hilarious and i did see THAT one! ;) have a wonderful start of the new year!

  8. I am so sorry about your families loss. Her place was gorgeous and a place to cherish, how amazing to have these photographs. Thank you for sharing, the pictures are beautiful, and I NEED those slippers.

  9. So so sorry to hear of your grandma's passing! I think you're so brave for being able to find the beauty during what must be such a hard time for your family. Sending lots of love from down here in good ol' SLC. :( xo

  10. MY GRANDMA HAS THOSE CAROLERS IN THE FIRST PHOTO! I got quite choked up as soon as the image loaded. xo

  11. That's so touching. What a wonderful tribute.
    Also I am in love with your grandma's peacock pillows. :)

  12. Oh Natalie, this was beautiful and moving and I cried. Love you friend! xoxo

  13. Lovely post, and tribute to your grandma. Sorry for your loss, but oh how you share your feelings is so positive. Love that your mama took up the violin. I love it! Glad y'all made your Christmas cheerful. It's nice to know that we can see our loved ones again!

    Happy New Year Holbrooks! That Huck is so sweet!


  14. Wow. fantastic post. So sorry for your loss. That's never easy. It brought smiles to my face and warmed my heart reading and looking at all of the sweetness in this post.


  15. Such a good post. Somehow you seem more sure of yourself - your writing is strong. There is so much in this piece and you edited it down perfectly and totally got your message across. Great photos,too. Thanks!

  16. love the last pic - great family portrait in front of the tree! I love christmas PJs….but seeing as I live in New Zealand and it is summer here, we can't really get down with the cozy warm christmas themed PJ thing. : (

  17. Matriarchs are so hard to lose, because... well, because somehow they are always our beginnings (and our own future-stinkerdom nearly always begins with them). I am sorry for your loss. And those baby pics! So much Huck in that sweet little face! Happy 2-0-1-6!

  18. i'm sorry for your loss. :c i lost my grandpa this year the day after christmas, he had alzheimer's as well. losing a loved one is never easy but being with family is always comforting. hugs to you and yours.

  19. Oh my heart!
    You just filled it...hugged it...tugged it, and warmed it.
    How blessed I am to read this. How dear you are to share.
    Been meaning to tell you . . . I have missed visiting The Palouse since our kid's graduated from WSU. Now I get to return via you, Natalie Jean!
    Go Cougs!

  20. Sorry for the loss of your grandma, those photos of her house are just amazing, I took photos of every little nook and detail of my grandparents house shortly before they passed and I love those photos, memories of place. Hugs

  21. Lovely post. I need to learn more about your blogging style. Really nice. Keep writing and sharing :)

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