Category Archives: Christmas

Christmas Eve Eve

I was visiting my maternal grandparents, and I remember being in the front seat of the car with my grandpa. It was one of those large cars with a bench seat in the front, and we’d fight over who got to sit in the middle of the front. He leaned towards me with a twinkle in his eye and told me that today, December 23rd, was Christmas Eve Eve.

I’m sure he wasn’t the first to think of it, but that’s one of the memories I have of him. You know how memory works. It’s a collection of flash moments. Feelings. Images.

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I feel like I spend adulthood alternating between trying to recreate the magical Christmas memories I have alternating with giving up and doing nothing. This year I went all in on décor, and the truth is: I’ve loved it. I didn’t do any real baking though, and I miss my Christmas cookie parties I threw for a few years. Maybe next year I should do more baking, and keep the decorating. I’ve also been listening to Christmas music pretty often, and I did some fun shopping. I used Etsy quite a bit, with mixed results: the products have been wonderful, but I’ve had an issue getting one thing. I think it’ll be sorted out, but not before Monday.

In any case, this has been a good Christmas season so far. It’s been a challenging year in many ways, but it’s been overall a positive year for me. I definitely feel like my social life has been missing, and that’s something I should work on in the future, but overall things have been really good. At least when I try to ignore the direction our country is going and pretend that everything is fine in that sense, which, to be fair, isn’t easy.

(The Jewel Box at Forest Park. We went on a walk this morning with a friend and her dog…which might mean I’m just worrying about things.)

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How do busy people maintain friendships? Or should I not worry about it too much and just do what I can when I can? I have friends to talk to about big issues and I am happy in my romantic relationship. I just don’t really have many friends who invite me to just hang out, or have dinner on a random night, or do something like see a movie, and I suppose a lot of that is because I don’t generally have time to do any of those things…so maybe I just need to relax and accept how life is right now.  I always enjoy hanging out when people when I do, and I have many wonderful colleagues that I chat with when I see them, and maybe that’s enough for now? I’ve never been good at maintaining a large number of friendships at once, probably because I’m not a huge fan of large group activities. Sigh. I’m sure I’m not special in this regard, am I?

One more workday and then two days off! Tomorrow I am playing a variety of Christmas Eve services, and then I fly to Phoenix to spend a few days with family. I’ll be back for the New Year and then will continue to be on vacation for a bit. It’ll be nice to relax.

Christmas presents from students

One of my favorite parts of teaching is getting gifts (and most notably, handwritten cards) from students on holidays and other special occasions. Some teachers complain that students give them too many cookies and candy, or silly useless gifts, or whatever, but I love getting gifts! It makes me feel important and special to my students (who are important and special to me!)

The winning gift this year (no offense to the rest of you, rest assured I appreciated all the gifts even though many baked goods went directly into the freezer as I try to portion those out!) was a Pez dispenser collection from the Hobbit. I have a Lord of the Rings Pez collection and this student must have noticed and decided to give me a matching set. (It came with an adorable handwritten card—I love little kid handwriting…)

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(No, I can’t take a picture on the floor without my foot, why do you ask?)

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Another great (and toe included) gift was this excellent “fail” button. I can see it being used for many occasions in the future.

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This is my version of grumpy cat.

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One of my neighbors gave me a plate of cookies and these two cupcakes topped with macarons!  How beautiful are those?! I was so touched (and of course felt guilty as I didn’t make or get anything for THEM—is this a normal thing? Am I a bad neighbor?) and delighted.

I’ve been seeing a lot of folks on Facebook talking about being done with Christmas gigs. I guess they don’t play Christmas Eve services! I’ll be done soon, and then I’ll have a little time off for visiting family and relaxing. Today and tomorrow friends, and then I have some breathing time.

I figured I ought to do a gift guide too

It seems like many bloggers do gift guides, telling us what to get people we (evidently) don’t know at all. I wasn’t going to do one, but today I saw that “The Onion” had so I really didn’t want to feel left out. (Also, I would like the crate of otters, just FYI.)

Okay: obviously this is just all stuff I want, as all gift guides are, right? But let’s pretend I’m giving you ideas for people you know. Or at least, if that person you know is very much like me.

Here are my top Gift ideas for Christmas 2013.

1. Kittens! Who wouldn’t love a bunch of kittens?

2. Money. That way your recipient can buy something they really need, rather than having to return your gift first.

3. Amazon gift cards. I know this sounds a lot like money, except that you use it to buy goods or services rather than just risk losing it when your wallet gets stolen.

4. A new car. I feel like all the people in the TV commercials…for cars…get brand new cars for Christmas. Don’t you want your loved ones to feel as special?

Plus you always need a giant bow for it.

5. Cow Figurines. One can never have too many.

7. A brand new TV. In fact, that’s what I recently got myself, thanks to a nice Cyber Monday sale, or some catchy day of that week. I guess everybody goes back to work after Thanksgiving and spends all their time shopping? (I get confused as to what it is people actually do at work, as I either pay violin or teach children, and both are very active things to do while working…)

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32 inches of fun.

Anyway, those are my gift ideas for you to get your loved ones. I’m sure this list will be a great help!

P.S. Read this: 33 of the greatest things that happened on Tumblr in 2013

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

 

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I had my annual Cookie Swap Party over the weekend. There were only 7 people there but it was great fun and we still ended up with plenty of cookies!

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Please ignore the dirty plate. I don’t know what is wrong with me. That did contain spinach artichoke dip though, so it was a winner.

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I made Cranberry Orange Poppyseed Shortbread cookies. They were delicious, albeit a bit smaller than I think I would have liked.

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I also made this pomegranate jeweled white cheddar, toasted almond and crispy sage cheeseball. It was delicious!

Other menu items: Apple cider in the crockpot (take apple cider, add some cinnamon sticks and a clove studded orange, simmer for 4 hours) and Sweet and Salty Pecans.

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No tree this year but a lovely garland on the built in bookshelf.

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After I cleaned off the table for the party the cat wasn’t sure what to do with herself.

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I don’t like taking selfies from so far above but it was the only way I could fit all the words in. And my face, which is important so you can see where my zits are. I bought this sweater at Old Navy during a pre-Thanksgiving sale for ridiculously cheap. I can’t decide if it’s ironic when I wear it or not. Then again, I get paid to teach and play the violin, and make a few measly $$ shilling Tide Pods and Wendy’s Sandwiches and Yogurt…so maybe I am following my heart.

PS This weekend I am running the Hot Chocolate 5k here in St Louis. Any readers doing it too? I’m hoping it isn’t too too too cold, and I’m just not even checking the forecast beforehand.

Boxing Day?

I don’t really understand Boxing Day. 

But I feel pretty good post-Christmas.  The trick is to get the melancholy out of the way pre-Christmas, then post-Christmas feels great.  Another good trick is to plan a couple of vacations in January.  (This is at least the third year in a row I’m doing this, and it seems to work really well.  After that, February is short, March can be another vacation over spring break, April is always the busiest month, May you are almost there…and then June is my birthday month and the end of school! Don’t lecture me about living in the moment.  Life isn’t short, it’s the longest thing you do.)

Oh, and now a wedding anniversary.  And I’d better not forget my husband’s birthday like I did our anniversary the other week  (I couldn’t figure out why Chris was so insistent on us having a fancy dinner the night of the second in Chicago—he kept insisting and I kept saying it didn’t need to be that night as it was our travel day and there were other days we’d be there and finally said in a loud, cross tone “What is your obsession with the second?”  He was silent for a bit and then said “It’s our anniversary.” Needless to say, I made a reservation somewhere nice.  To be fair, I hadn’t technically forgotten our anniversary as it hadn’t happened yet…no, I can’t rationalize this.  I totally sucked and forgot.) 

All of these things can help with post-Christmas blues.  (Except forgetting your anniversary.  Don’t do that.)

After eating enough to gain 7.8 pounds yesterday (a fact my trainer thought was both ridiculously disgusting and impossible to believe, even though HE told me he lost 11 pounds over the last two weeks in order to be able to overindulge a bit this week…that doesn’t sound crazy or anything—I hope he’s reading today) I figured a good workout was in order.  That and it was already scheduled.  Lunges on the Smith machine, front squats, dead lifts, kettlebell swings.  I feel like I’m forgetting something but I really think that’s it.  Maybe I was slow today or we did extra sets? 

I probably smelled strongly of Ham the entire time.

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I wore a festive headband.  It was in honor of Boxing Day AND the snowstorm that was predicted that totally missed us.

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Post workout, in the car.  I was cold. 

I actually had to get dressed in regular clothes, including pants that buttoned for a rehearsal for this jazz concert I’m playing on—I feel so COOL when I play with jazz musicians, even though we all know that’s not true.  (Also, children, being cool is NOT important in life.  Being smart and nice is.)

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Christmas present.  I don’t have a Toms problem or anything.  PLUM CORDUROY THANK YOU LESLIE!

Last thought for tonight: We finally watched Moneyball.  Why did we wait so long?  Second favorite baseball movie!!  (First favorite is of course Field of Dreams.)

What’s your favorite baseball movie?  Or, top three?  I think my third favorite is A League of Their Own.

You are not a cow

It’s important to note that I often refer to my cat as “the ham” or “the fat ham”.

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Christmas was great!  I got home late Christmas Eve because of work the night before so we wanted to sleep in a bit.

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Churches like poinsettias, don’t they?

Anyway, we woke up and made coffee.  The plan was to make a cooked breakfast (rare for us—hash browns, sausage, coffee cake, and mimosas), open presents, make a couple side dishes and then in the mid afternoon head over to our friend’s for Christmas dinner and hanging out.

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Props to Leslie for continuing my cow tradition. I opened this and exclaimed, “I don’t even know what this is and I love it!”  Leslie gave me some other random things, and my favorite thing was a pair of purple corduroy Toms that I’d asked for.  I’m pretty excited about those.

My parents sent some gift cards, Vanessa gave us a new soap dispenser (there was an incident on Thanksgiving) and a lovely poster of the St Louis Skyline.  Chris got me a gorgeous pair of diamond earrings, so he wins Christmas this year 😉  What, I’m generally not shallow, but I’m a girl!

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Leslie sent the cat a catnip toy.  This is the most clear picture I could get of her playing with it.  It quickly became her new best friend and then she fell asleep.  Chris made the mistake of touching the toy and it was naturally completely covered with saliva.  Gross.

We went over to our friend’s Jon and Laura’s for Christmas dinner.  It was awesome!  First of all, (I’ve probably said this before but I’ll say it again), Laura is one of the best cooks I know and best hostesses.  Secondly, they have an adorable 8 month old baby who is just starting to elbow crawl and is absolutely the cutest thing (with the possible exception of the fatness) and we got to play with him as much as we wanted.  (Key word there, wanted 🙂  For as many times per week I get asked when we are having children—and yes, I get asked this a lot– I feel uncomfortable admitting in a public OR private forum that, yes, I do generally love babies.  And kids.  That are not my own because I do not have to take them with me.)

Okay, tangent over.  Baby: cute and fun.  That’s all I’m saying.

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Carving the ham is a serious job.

Here are some poorly lit food photos:

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(clockwise): potatoes, truffle mac & cheese, green beans, ham, corn pudding.

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My plate of food.  If only that were all I ate.  Unfortunately there was a starter of cheese and salami and I was already pretty full by dinner.  This did not stop me from having seconds.

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Out of about 5 photos somebody took of us, this was the best one.  I’m blaming the lighting?  Or the wine…all around.

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And then it was dessert time.  Yes, that is three desserts for six people.  And homemade ice cream.

It was a wonderful day.  We felt lucky to have such good friends who would invite us for Christmas when we weren’t even related (and not even a pity invite, they genuinely wanted us to come—or are really good actors!)  And then we went home and passed out.  And I weighed myself and realized I’d gained 7.8 pounds over the course of the day, which truly made me realize how much I ate (gross!) and explained why I had felt so awful for the past few hours.

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Ladies and Gentlemen…I present my husband!

At one point we were sitting around the table and I could barely sit up.  The baby was on the floor and I realized my best bet of being able to lie down without being super rude or admitting complete food failure was to get down on the floor with the excuse of playing with the baby.  This was a brilliant move, by the way! It culminated in me sitting in a comfy chair with him trying to get him to sleep reading “Are you a cow?”  Spoiler alert:  he was not a cow.

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I feel better this morning.  That is, I’m still completely full, and I am so not eating breakfast, possibly never eating again, and I’m about to head to the gym to work out but that will be hard because I’m pretty sure my entire body has turned to flab.

At least all the overeating holidays are behind us, right?  Hopefully I can still fit into a shiny dress for New Year’s!

Note:  my book giveaway is still running: enter now!

Tell me about your Christmas in the comments (or if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can talk about that as well.)