Holiday Residue

There are a few things happening in my brain right now.

1) I’m sleepy.  It’s a half hour before I have to leave for work, and I am desperately fighting to be productive.  One load of laundry has been switched over.  Dishes have been loaded into the dishwasher.  Lunch has been put together.  I have plopped onto the couch.  (OH NO!)

2) I’m really grateful for Thanksgiving.  Scott’s family, who is also my family, is wonderful.  They helped with all of the craziness of cooking multiple meals for 9 people.

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They were gracious about everything that turned out looking not quite like a magazine picture.   (It still tasted delicious).

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They were patient when our turkey came out of the oven a bit later than planned.  It was a tasty turkey, for sure.

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And some of them did super cute things like this:

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See that pink sleeping bag?  There’s a little munchkin in that sleeping bag, and both the munchkin and the bag made their way around the living room and hall and various other places.

And now that the cute munchkins (who are becoming less munchkin-like all the time) have left the building with their parents and other family members, it’s time to keep moving.  My body and my brain want to stop here for a while.  Let’s hang out on the Sunday after Thanksgiving for a week, shall we?

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.  As evidenced by the fact that it’s now the Monday after Thanksgiving.

For just another minute, I’m going to relish the success of a good weekend with family.  My very favorite recipe from the weekend was all Scott’s doing.  He made Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie.  Yum!  He even added one pie crust recipe with another innards recipe to make it just about perfect.  I think his main ingredient adjustment was to cut the number of chocolate chips in the recipe in half.  I wouldn’t normally condone that type of behavior, but it turned out just right.

So just to recap, take this crust and smush some of this into it.  And bam!  We’re planning to make it again soon.

Holiday in the Woods

I certainly grew up in a family that liked to eat, but my husband’s family is all about the Thanksgiving feast in a way that my family never was.  There are about 10 side dishes and leftovers for every branch of the family to take home.  It’s kind of amazing.

Scott being Si from Duck Dynasty (the tea glass is key)

So that’s what I’ve been up to for the past few days–eating.  The comical twist in the story is that while rushing out of the house on Wednesday afternoon, Scott and I forgot all of our toiletries for the trip.  No toothbrush, no deodorant, no anything.  Fortunately, Scott’s family is generous, and there are these things called drug stores all over the place.  Even with those good things, I went 4 days using my finger as a toothbrush, not brushing my hair, not wearing a lick of makeup.  It added a tiny bit of rusticity to the holiday.

On top of that, I went hunting for the first time in my life.  Or I went along for a hunt, anyway.  Scott and I sat in the woods for a few hours (almost–it got really cold!), and I looked around and read my book in turns.  Scott is a better hunter than I am, but at least I did my best to not talk.

The main wildlife we saw that morning was a racoon that we treed nearby.  Accidentally treed.  The poor guy looked really cute at first and took a nap far up the tree.  Then he got really agitated that we wouldn’t leave, and he wagged his tail really hard and made weird sounds at us for the next hour.  It was kind of disconcerting.

That one morning of cold adventuring will last me a while.  Scott, however went out again the next day and met with more success.  Something about a wife flipping book pages and a racoon hissing in a tree didn’t work out too well for him.

Family Vacation

Family vacation ended a few short days ago, and all of that happy laziness that got stored up made the end of the week pretty great, too.  There’s a lot more happy lazy time in general now than there was a month ago, but there’s something different about vacation laziness.

In this case, we were being lazy with family members–first Scott’s family at one beach for a few days, then my family at another beach for a few days.  Collective laziness is social and constructive in a way that singular laziness just isn’t.  If you boiled my vacation summary down to a few sentences, I think I would just stop there.  We had such a wonderful time talking to family and spending quality time with them.  On the activities list were bocce ball, sitting on sand, wading in shallow waves, braving bigger waves, a little bit of TV, kayaking, tennis, and plenty of munching on delicious food.

In addition to all of the warm fuzzies provided by family time, I’m proud of having some semblance of a tan for the first time in several years.  I used to tan well in high school, and then I got to college and grad school and spent more and more of each summer indoors.  I went from regular tennis with my BFF to learning about statistics and research methods.  Then the “real world” happened, and I couldn’t seem to get enough sun on weekends to get past the pasty white stage.

Not so today.  I’m at least two shades past pasty white.  Woohoo!  [Okay, I know that it’s healthier for your skin to be pasty white at all times.  If you’re concerned about my danger of getting cancer, I can assure you that I will be pale again in no time flat.]

So there you are.  A slightly tanner, slightly more active version of me is back home, getting things done.

We didn’t document our vacation all that well, even though we had not one, but two cameras with us.  So enjoy windblown me atop a lighthouse:

Like I said, windblown (and happy).

Letters to Santa

photo from the British Postal Museum & Archive

It’s snowing outside, and I just sent off my annual letter to Santa (via email).  It’s pretty exciting, people.

Yes, I’m twenty-six years old.

This is how it went down in my family.  My parents didn’t want to lie to us and tell us that certain things were real when they weren’t, so I was that annoying kid who went around telling all the other kids that Santa wasn’t real.  Or I was smugly thinking to myself, “I know the truth.”  Either way, I was probably obnoxious about having that piece of information.

While they were keeping us solidly grounded in truth, my parents also put out stockings and cookies on Christmas Eve.  And then they left presents in our stockings and ate the cookies off of the mantel.  It became a game that we played instead of something that we believed in.  I guess that’s true for a lot of kids who kind of know that Santa isn’t real from the start and go along with it anyway.

Somewhere along the line, I think when I was about 15, the Christmas Game expanded to include letters to Santa.  It’s my favorite part of the “faux ho ho.”  I write, and he writes back.  His handwriting is mysteriously similar to my dad’s handwriting.

The real excitement began when Santa left a few cigarette butts on the cookie plate and some stuff in the letter about how he was desperately trying to quit.  It was the beginning of the not-so-jolly Santa.  Then when I studied economics in college, Santa talked to me about outsourcing and elf labor.  I think we also covered topics like the best place for a post-Christmas vacation and some less than flattering details about the reindeer.

We just have a good time with it.  I write a letter to Santa like he’s an uncle I talk to once a year (you know, an uncle who flies around the world delivering presents to people), and he writes me back in a grumpy, no-nonsense way.  It’s awesome.  If Santa did exist, I hope he would be like the Santa my dad has created over the years.  I’m excited about what he has to say in 2010.

Grown-up Christmas List

I haven’t forgotten to tell stories about Thanksgiving, I’m just making a brief detour to the topic of Christmas.  Part of the weekend conversation did revolve around Christmas shopping and getting ready for the season.  Black Friday happened.  I thankfully went to the mountains instead of the mall.  Whew, another shopping stampede avoided.

Do you remember Amy Grant’s Christmas albums from back in the day?  Man, I loved that music.  Home for Christmas was one of my first CD’s circa 1995.

One of the songs on that album was titled “Grown-up Christmas List.”  In that song, Amy wishes for all sorts of good things–justice, peace, etc.  But you can’t exactly wrap those up and put them under a tree for your loved ones, now can you?

My desire to buy tangible gifts for the people I care about doesn’t have anything to do with Christmas as it should be.  That’s true.  It’s like giving presents to everybody except the person whose birthday you’re celebrating.  But still, I can’t make myself stop.

So if you haven’t guessed, my grown-up Christmas list doesn’t include world peace.  My list is, however, in existence as of today.  For that, I’m grateful.  Even if the concept of major Christmas shopping isn’t theologically sound, I stand by the list.  It includes the names of people I love, and it shows me small ways that I can express that to them.  What’s not to like about that?

That’s all.  I made a Christmas list, and I’m happy about it.

Vacation Goals: Puppy! (and other less important things)

Today really requires more in the way of visual aid than text.  Exhibit A:

I’ve been snuggling that little guy a lot in the past few days.  He has parasites, and you can feel every one of his ribs as a result, but the fluffy factor makes him a pretty irresistible bag of bones.  It’s hard to adequately describe the charms of a sleepy puppy.

Exhibit B is the dog who is currently training the puppy how to beg his way onto a couch and sneak out of a fence:

Apparently, nap time is a big deal for the canines of this household.

After a serious morning of dog hangout time, we made some lunch.  This is where I learned how to cook:

My mom is a great cook, I promise.  She and I both just happen to forget that things are in the oven sometimes.  Life happens and cute puppies distract you.

Or you pop into the garden for a second to check on your dinner.

And use your shirt as a harvest basket.  It works.

And you admire your cherry tomatoes.  And your artichokes.

And don’t forget about the squash blossoms.

Before you know it, you’re eating slightly charred sandwiches, and who cares when you get to look at this out the front door?!

(I almost forgot that there was eclair consumption today, too.  Check.)

December Decisions

It recently came to my attention that my family intends to spend Christmas in Colorado, which makes sense.  Two of the five in question live there, and the other three know where to find good snow in December.  Unfortunately, my Colorado plans for the year don’t include December.

I was really sad about that at first.  My family is fun to be around, especially at Christmas.  My mom indulges my love of corny movies, my dad and I wear armadillo slippers on Christmas morning, and Santa still writes letters to me about how he’s trying to quit smoking or how it’s cheaper to outsource toy-making instead of using elves.  Definitely warms the heart of this girl.

I briefly considered forgetting about my planned trip to Colorado in September.  That made me more sad than missing Christmas, so back to the drawing board I went.  Then I remembered that there are these modern inventions called phones and postage (so cutting edge, that postage!).  Santa and I can still correspond.  My armadillo slippers are safely tucked away in my house, so that’s a go.  And I conquered the traditional Christmas stollen recipe last year.

Nothing to fear.  This year’s holiday season will be about getting to the post office in time to mail presents to Colorado, about celebrating the birth of Christ in my own lovely church, about enjoying my favorite canine friend, and about creating new traditions.  There will be gallons of warm apple cider consumed, an embarrassing number of Christmas movies watched, and possibly a mini adventure on Christmas day.  Feeling good about Christmas in Virginia, and now we return to our regularly scheduled program (also known as “It’s really hot outside!”).