There is nothing like spending time with your family and friends during the holiday season.  Since I moved to South Dakota, this was the first time I was able to enjoy the Christmas holiday with my family and friends from beginning to end!  What an amazing, fun-filled trip!

To start, the weather was pretty close to perfect.  The average daily temperature was above 50 degrees for the majority of my trip.  There was no snow on the ground!  I am an avid runner, so I took advantage of these beautiful days to run on the running/bike trail that is literally right outside my front door.  I can't remember the last time I didn't have to wear a coat at the end of December in my hometown!  It was great to have a "green" Christmas.

My family has always been my number one priority and that was my primary emphasis throughout this trip. I made it my mission to see my family as much as possible during my vacation.  I always visit my dad's side on Christmas Eve and my mom's side on Christmas Day.  It's tough to have the family together in one place because everyone has such busy schedules.  All of my cousins are growing up so quickly, especially little Elsie in the right corner of my picture.  Being with my family is all I wanted for Christmas, and I was able to fulfill that wish!

A true trip back home wouldn't be complete without visiting my favorite city and one of its favorite teams: The Chicago Blackhawks!  Believe it or not, this was my very first Hawks game!  There was a ton of excitement in the air for the last home game of the decade, and I was hoping for a big win!  Let's just say the game prior to this game didn't end very well.  The team was actually booed off the ice...whoops!  I also had the opportunity to see my cousin, Christine (Yes, there's another Christine in the family!) in action on the ice for the very first time!  Christine is enjoying her second season as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks Ice Crew!  Skating with the Ice Crew is her "second job"!  Typically, Christine, a Speech Pathologist, can be found addressing the needs of her patients at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, IL.  All in all, it was a terrific evening as the Hawks were able to pull off a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders!

The excitement continued throughout my holiday visit.  I took a journey with my dad's family to Medieval Times in Schaumburg, IL to celebrate my Aunt Jennifer's 50th birthday.  It included dinner and an authentic Medieval show!  There were knights, queens, horses, falcons, and jousting tournaments.....oh my!  We didn't even use utensils to eat our meal...that was really interesting.  We were all kings and queens for the day!  Medieval Times is certainly a great place to bond with your family and even coworkers.  I recommend this dining attraction to anyone who wants to experience 11th century Medieval history!

Overall, it was great to be home!  I'm very blessed to have my family support my career journey in my home away from home, Sioux Falls, South Dakota!  I cannot wait until some of my family members visit the Sioux Empire later this year!