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December 26, 2004: Christmas and the after

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Since this is the year my sisters and I do Christmas with our respective in-laws, and since Richard's family does Christmas Eve instead of Christmas as the annual day of family gathering, this year's Christmas was extremely low key. I'd pondered getting up and making gingerbread pancakes for breakfast, but at the Christmas Eve service my mom made a random comment about when she might get up to stir up the dough for the sticky buns and I rather unsubtly invited us over for breakfast. I suppose I should feel guilty but I cannot, because I only get the chance for homemade sticky buns twice a year and they are so very, very good.

So we got up when we felt like it, and curled up on the couch with the cats and our laptops and opened our Christmas presents to each other. Since we got home after midnight last night I managed to talk Richard into opening one present then (because 12:15 am is, technically, Christmas), but the rest waited until a more traditional hour of the morning.

Richard proved once again that he is good at shopping for clothes for me, surprising me with two lovely sweater tops and two skirts. I now have, among other neat stuff, a pile of books (including a knitting book), two magazine subscriptions that I very much wanted, and the newest version of the only computer game to which I have ever been addicted (Civilization). I have not yet installed it because I very much need to be doing some work for my Photoshop class, but I am not sure how much longer I will be able to hold out.

We went over to my parents' house for breakfast, and to exchange gifts with them (they got me a yarn ball winder, which may not seem exciting if you are not a knitter but trust me, I really needed one!), and then came back to have a very lazy day. The afternoon was spent lounging around the living room me with books and knitting, and Richard with his laptop and a box full of tiny parts, which slowly were put together to become a robot with a computer brain. The Lego's Mindstorm set had originally been intended to be his big birthday present, but I decided since he has all next week off from work he'd probably appreciate having lots of time to play with it. Considering how much time he has since spent happily poking about on his computer and constructing the Legos into various robotic forms, I think I made a wise decision. Plus I figure he can plow through another of his presents the entire collection of Monty Python on DVD while I am off at work, thus saving me from getting to enjoy the strangeness of British humor except in only very small doses when I am actually home (heh).

My parents came over for dinner later grilled steaks, roasted garlic, homemade rolls and brought pie for dessert chocolate pudding filling in a traditional shortbread-type crust that my dad still makes by hand like he was taught when he was a little boy. They very nicely left us with half a pie when they headed back home, and I had a small piece for breakfast this morning because what better way to fortify oneself for the after-Christmas sales than with pie?

My older sister and her family came by later in the evening so we all headed to my parents' house and exchanged gifts. Remember how I said I worked best with a deadline? I finished the sweater for my sister about one hour before we headed over to give it to her. But at least I got it done and it was absolutely gorgeous the yarn I chose is a soft washable wool in shades of pale blue and watery green that make me think of serene pools and spring days, and I did tell my sister that if she, for some reason, doesn't like it I will gladly take it back and claim it for myself.

This morning started quite early for me, since it is tradition in our family to hit the after-Christmas sales. I met my mom and my older sister at the first store while it was still dark outside and we spent the next few hours going from store to store, stocking up and saving tons of cash. We've discovered that since everyone tends to go to the malls, the stores in and around the Vacaville outlet mall tend to be nearly deserted, so we can rummage through bins of cards and wrapping paper, gift bags and stocking stuffers, and shop to our hearts' content without having to contend with stress and crowds. Plus this year, since sales weren't as high as stores had been hoping before Christmas, most of the places we went had things marked down up to 75% off.

We timed it perfectly getting back to town with just enough time for me to zip home, show off all my bargain finds to Richard, and then dash to the church to meet the rest of the recorder ensemble for practice. By then I was pretty tired up since 5:30 and not a drop of coffee so it was a challenge keeping my eyes open during the sermon. But my older sister and her family came to church with us and my nephews proved just how shy they are not by piping up during the children's time to tell the pastor all manner of things (they had the entire congregation laughing at one point), and there were friends to chat with and hug, and there were paint colors for the chancel to discuss (thereby starting my stint as chair of Board of Trustees a wee bit earlier than planned), so it was for the best that we were there.

After church we went out to lunch and then headed back to my parents house to play classic arcade games (PacMan! DigDug!) on my nephew's new toy (which he very sweetly allowed us to play). There were cookies and there was more pie and then we all hugged our goodbyes and Richard and I came back home, where I promptly staggered upstairs and crawled into bed and took a much-needed nap.

For the rest of the day I foresee more lounging and companionable silence as we each work on various projects. Richard is busying himself with his Mindstorm robots, which have the added incentive of thoroughly enthralling the cats, and I think that I shall crack open my book for my Photoshop class and see if I cannot get through at least one more lesson before the evening is over. I am pondering possibilities for dinner and wondering if I really want to try to cobble together something healthy and well-balanced, or whether we should instead just use this as an excuse to finish off the remainder of the Christmas cookies and pie. Right now, as I type this and feel particularly lazy, the idea of pie for dinner is winning, hands down.

This has been a Holidailies entry.

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