Friday, December 27, 2013

This Christmas...

I've been trying to come up with a word for this Christmas. So far I have:

Almost Didn't Happen
Sick (and not in that ridiculous way Californians talk to mean "cool")

Shit, I'll just use all of them.

I realize I'm leading with that, but our Christmas was also:

Relatively Un-Stressful

While Christmas was all of the good, it was hard not to notice that it didn't resemble anything we've gotten used to, or have done the last several years. One major difference this year was that Zoey and I couldn't keep our heads out of the toilet. Well, technically, that happened last Thanksgiving, too, so maybe we're starting some new, horrible, family tradition. Obviously, the new, FABULOUS thing about this year was that we celebrated Christmas in our NEW house! :-D It still very much has the just-moved-in-look but since Zoey and I threw up all over it, I'd consider that well broken-in, wouldn't you?

We unearthed our tree and tubs of Christmas decorations, Christmas movies (even though Jacob tried to hide them), soaked in all of the TV specials and really did make an effort to get into the spirit this year. For Jacob's part, he did very well. Me, I tried - I really did - but found myself seriously lacking in the Energy for Christmas department. I even tried to get pumped by making homemade Christmas cookies.

 Can't make Christmas cookies without Holiday Wreaths!

 Breaking in my new kitchen island with gingerbread cookies.

 Decorating, dumping, same thing.

 She had quite the assembly line going.

 Daddy joined in the fun too.

A fraction of our finished product. We actually wound up with a lot of undecorated cookies, not realizing this can be a lengthy, back-aching process. They were worth it, though, and very tasty. Santa even ate them all despite Zoey biting into them first. With all of the sugar-free, gluten-free, taste-free Styrofoam floating around disguised as "treats" these days, I'm sure Santa appreciated knowing a kid would eat his cookies.

While I refuse to decorate or acknowledge Christmas until the weekend after Thanksgiving, shopping, of course, doesn't count. I usually start ordering presents online around Halloween but ALWAYS manage to never have it all done on time. With not working, theoretically I should have had all the time in the world to get gift-buying, decorating, food-preparing, and shipping taken care of long before it became stressful and *still* host book club. But if college taught me anything, it was how to procrastinate. Throw in being sick and you have a recipe for Christmas pretty much being a no-show. Well, it would have been, if not for Jacob.

Early one Sunday morning, Jacob was chomping at the bit to get a vacuum cleaner belt so he could get to work sprucing up his newly traded-for Jeep Cherokee. He left shortly after 8:30 and as the clocked clicked closer to 10:40am, I had an image of him wandering Wal-Mart with a cart load of stuff. He came home shortly thereafter hauling in the bulk of the toy aisle and giving me the I-know-you're-going-to-be-mad-at-me-but-please-go-easy look. I was a bit shocked but then not all that surprised since he goes shopping alone so rarely and this is pretty much what always happens. And, in the end, I was glad he did it; he gave Zoey a wonderful Christmas when I couldn't participate.

As he unpacked the bags, he suddenly realized, "I didn't get vacuum cleaner belts! I got one thing on my [3-item] list!" Ahh, the story of Wal-Mart.

The weekend before Christmas was when Zoey and I hit the skids. Our Christmas was already going to be different because Jacob had to work all Christmas Day. He was off Christmas Eve so we were planning to go to his parents and exchange family presents, but as Sunday came to an end and since merely someone looking my way made me nauseous, we thought having an activity-laden day might not be the best. We also didn't have our usual Christmas Eve of opening gifts from my parents (did that already in AZ over Thanksgiving) or the big dinner. Instead, we ate random things we could find around the house and opened our Christmas presents to each other throughout the day.

 The Little Mermaid success! (And Flashlight Friend. Jacob wants everything he sees on TV so he understands when Zoey does too...) Truth time: Jacob got her her first Barbie-like dolls. He also got her The Little Mermaid movie, which I insisted on watching since it's been over 20 years. I was surprised at how much of the songs I knew.

 This child will amaze you in her puzzle-doing. She loves them and knocks them out like, 'cmon give me something hard. It'll be awhile before she's able to tackle this 1000-piece Christmas-theme, glow-in-the-dark doozy, but Jacob thought it would be fun to do as a family and work on throughout the holiday season.

 Jacob glammed me up this Christmas! Sparkly slippers, pearl necklace and earrings, faux fur infinity scarf, a vintage lantern for the house, and a bag showcased on Good Morning America. He knows just what I like! (Or is trying to tell me he'd like me to shower more...)

 Zoey and I got Daddy a wall clock to glam up either his Man Cave or garage. We also got him an ice cube tray in the shape, and a reusable water bottle that reminds him to "Stay Classy." He also got a present with a warning from Santa... ;-)

 I think the dogs have gotten used to when there is a tree in the house and we rip apart paper, there is usually something in there for them. Just in the TA-DA nick of time, Santa Donahue mailed their doggy stockings. I kinda think they were a little relieved.

 Given what Mr. Snowman has heard from his relatives, he pretty much saw this comin'.

 Ball's done!

 Snowman's Done!

Once it became dark, still clad in our jammies, we piled in the car on the hunt for Christmas lights. I had never actually done this before, driven around specifically to gawk at incredible light displays, but it was absolutely the coolest thing to do. Jacob got an e-mail at work about the best displays and we made sure to hit them all. I regret not taking any pictures but I seriously doubted if any of them would have turned out. I'll just say that if you ever have the opportunity to drive around in search of lights, take it. It's so cheerful and heartwarming that people go to such great lengths to create something just for others to look at and enjoy and feel the holiday spirit. Neighborhoods are packed with cars driving with only their fog lights on, and traffic jams wind around the city just because a neighbor dressed as Santa is handing out candy canes.

Santa managed to find us come Christmas morning, and Zoey did a surprisingly remarkable job of waiting alllllll daaaaaayyyy to open presents. She could wait no longer, though, and dove in seconds after Jacob got home. Sidenote: Her face was absolutely priceless as I showed her that Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk she left for him. Like that's all it took for her to become a believer.

 The Great Post-Christmas Assemble.


Santa didn't forget about Louis, either. He's become rather crotchety rather quickly so Santa got him a new bed. Who doesn't understand that better than Santa?

Since we have yet to see Jacob's parents, we're like divorced-kids and have a third Christmas waiting in the wings, which we'll do this weekend. By Christmas Day, Zoey and I were feeling much better so took advantage of the assumed quiet post-Christmas shopping to finish up some *cough* gift shopping. Although the news declared it yet *another* "busiest shopping day of the year," Montana is different. It was the least-busy, most pleasant Wal-Mart experience I've ever had (maybe because literally everyone I saw were in their Christmas jammies).

It's sort of crazy that Christmas is over when it never really felt like it arrived. But nothing to be disappointed about. We were - and will be - thoroughly spoiled, got to spend extra time together, watched all of our Christmas movies, ate good food even if it was mostly from Applebee's, and had a generally stress-less holiday. It doesn't even matter that our Christmas tree still sits, lit, and completely undecorated.