Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pocket Change and Ugly Sweaters

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, the gifts are all in the mail, the Christmas cards (with letters included) are in the mail and "most" of the shopping is done... because, really, what would Christmas be without some last minute gift buying?  Why be totally prepared when you can be scattered and do a little scrambling around for those last items a few days before Christmas?  I don't think I've ever been totally ready for Christmas, maybe I should give it a whirl one year and see how the other half lives....those perenially prepared people.  Nahhhh!

At least the tree is up and it is even decorated!

This year we will have two Christmases!  Our first Christmas will be in Houston and the second will be in Wisconsin.  The first will be the adult Christmas and the second will be the kiddie Christmas!  We plan to enjoy all aspects of both! 

We are all really looking forward to some of our Christmas traditions.  What traditions does your family have?  Ours are probably a bit bizarre!  One of my favorite traditions is a recent (last 5 years) addition.  It started when our kids were finally of legal age and in this case our youngest was of legal age when we lived in Canada, so she was only legal by Canadian standards at age 19 or 20.  It's the Eve of Christmas Eve pub crawl.  On December 23rd we have dinner at TJ's favorite little Italian restaurant, drive around and look at Christmas lights in the ritzy neighborhood of River Oaks and then hit a few pubs wearing our tackiest, ugliest Christmas sweaters.  We have quite the collection of them too because we were stylin' back in the '80s...and we never throw anything away!  I saved enough ugly Christmas sweaters to outfit several other family members too!  Another aspect of the pub crawl is that we spend all the pocket change we have been collecting over the year.  We used to just take the kids out for pizza with the money but now it has evolved to buying them beer.  The "change jar" took on a whole new meaning when we lived in Canada!  With Loonies and Toonies in the mix we had some serious money in the "change jar".  It almost covered dinner and the first pub.  This year we will be lucky to cover the bill in the first pub with the change jar money but it is fun to see all that spare change pay for something for everyone. 

TJ's favorite ugly sweater!  He has left the price tag on for over 15 years because.....
the original price, 15-20 years ago, was $175.00 and after 4 markdowns it was purchased for $9.99 by my Mother. 
 She probably used here employee discount on top of that so $7.00 is just about the right price for this gem!

The rest of our Christmas traditions are pretty....traditional.  There is Mass on Christmas Eve, then we all open one gift (usually matching pj's for everyone to be worn on Christmas morning).  In the morning there is a marathon of gift opening while we eat Monkey bread and listen to Christmas music, followed by brunch and then later in the day, a roast beast dinner.  Sometime over the holidays we watch Love Actually because...".if you look around love actually is all around us"! 

This year we may be fortunate enough to enjoy all of our traditions twice!  Once in Houston in our balmy Christmas weather and the second in Wisconsin in the cold and snow!  The snow and cold will be a real gift to me because everyone knows that I love the cold weather.  I am really looking forward to sliding down a hill on a sled with my grandsons!  Merry Christmas Lisa!

As if preparing for Christmas were not enough to do I decided to have a few upgrades done in the house.  Perfect timing!  It is always nice to have your house torn apart and covered with dust days before the biggest holiday of the year.  Maybe I wasn't thinking straight when I made this decision.  Having workers here for two days has forced me to stay home and get things done around the house.... things like wrapping all of our gifts, addressing Christmas cards and getting organized.  Hmmm, maybe I should do this every year!  Nahhh.

I hope all of you have a perfect Christmas with family and friends.  Enjoy your traditions and take a moment to thank God for sending his Son to earth in the form of an innocent child.  God Bless you all!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Christmas Before Technology

After a few grueling hours of online shopping today I decided to take Sadie the Wonder Dog out for a walk.  We were enjoying the arrival of a "real" cold front and feeling just a bit of the holiday spirit with all the houses in the neighbrhood decorated for Christmas.  I even listened to a little George Winston's "December" on my ipod.  Then it hit me!  Technology is ruining Christmas!   Let me explain.....

I had just spent hours online at my kitchen table purchasing gifts.  Without technology I would have been out shopping.  I would have been in and out of the car several times and would have totally enjoyed that cool breeze at each stop.  I would have been shopping, listening to piped-in Christmas music all day and enjoying all of the store decorations.  I might have even purchased a few gifts...but maybe not, I have such a hard time making those decisions!  It may have been frustrating but I would have been out among other holiday shoppers and felt the bond of being in the trenches for the day.  Instead, I drank tea, listened to whatever I wanted and purchased an alarming number of gifts in record time without talking to a single person, looking for a parking place or standing in line.  Bah humbug!

Before technology I would sit down and compose an annual update letter to include in our Christmas cards.  I would attempt to include a bit of humor, an update on each person in our family and a Christmas greeting.  With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogs there are now about 5 people on my Christmas list who do not know what most of us have done this year... or this morning for that matter!  What is the point of writing a Christmas letter anymore?  I guess I could just make stuff up and send it!  Bah humbug!

Before technology, I would spend hours personally addressing my Christmas cards.  I can now just press a button and print labels and stick them on my cards, but I won't.  I used to print pictures to include in the individually signed cards, now the picture and our signature are the card.  OK...that has been around for a while, but you had to go to the store with a negative (remember them?) and get the store to make the picture cards for you and then wait at least two weeks for the cards to be printed.  I got mine in 24 hours this year and I made them from the comfort of my sofa using my laptop.  Bah humbug!

I am still one of the few people in the world who has a real Christmas tree.  You know, the kind the grows in the ground and drops thousand of needles the minute you put it in your house!  We can now program our lights to turn on and off at the appointed times.  I used to go outside to turn the lights on and off, I sometimes would see a neighbor doing the same thing and we would visit for a while.  Sometimes the lights would get left on all night and we could knowingly nod at each other the next day.  Technology has taken care of my absentmindedness.  Bah humbug!

I am sure there are some of you saying things are a lot better now with technology.  Who wants to go shopping and fight the crowds? Who wants to sign and send Christmas cards?  Who needs a real tree, they only litter your house?  Life is so much simpler now, right?  My question is, are we in more of the Christmas spirit with all our extra time?  Maybe once I start wrapping all those gifts I bought online I will feel the spirit...haven't found the gift wrapping app yet...but it probably exists! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fun and Games

The best part of our Thanksgiving, which I know was weeks ago...., was not the dinner.  It was the post-dinner games!  We had a table full of friends and family, playing games was the logical conclusion to the night.  We love to play games.  We have a few family favorites, Apples to Apples is one, "the name game" is another and now we have a new one.  We call it, or the people we learned it from call it, Chemistry Taco.  I really don' t know how this describes the game though.  I will make an attempt to share this game with you....because it is awesome and can make you laugh until you cry and you are going to want to play this at home! 

The game is a cross between the old fashioned "telephone" game and pictionary...
Sorry for the poor photography quality, you get the idea though...right?
Any game that starts with "Squanto gives the first Thanksgiving turkey to the Pilgrims" and ends with "Turkey Badminton"  is fun in my book!  We had 11 people playing on Thanksgiving so everyone began with 11 pieces of paper in their stack (the same number as the number of players).  Each player writes a statement describing a "scene" on the first/top piece of paper.  Then everyone passes their stack of paper to the person next to them.  Right or left...your choice!  The next person reads the statement and draws a picture of the "scene" on the next piece of paper in the stack and puts the statement on the bottom of the stack of papers.  Everyone passes the stack of paper, with their drawing on top, to the person next to them and that person writes a statement on the next piece of paper to describe the drawing, and so on.  Eventually, you get back a series of drawings and statements that evolved from your original statement.  Sometimes they stay pretty close to the original statement throughout and sometimes they go horribly or hilariously wrong!

Just in case you wanted to see more poor quality photography!

Take this series for example.  It began with "grandma got run over by a reindeer".  The drawing underneath is the first drawing.  Somehow that lead eventually to "Life or Death reindeer games" with the resulting drawing with reindeer shooting each other and some of them belly up on the ground.  I think there was a "border patrol by reindeer" thrown in there somewhere too.  The drawings and statements get more and more creative as the adult beverages flow.  At the end everyone does a sort of show and tell with their series of papers and that is when the laughter begins.  It is always funny to find out what you really were supposed to be seeing or drawing.  I highly recommend this game the next time you have a group of friends or family at Christmas!  This is my Christmas present to all of you!  You can thank me after you catch your breath from all the laughing you will do when you play.

In other fun and game news.....

Regular college football season has ended.  Sigh....   This season has been one of surprising results.  For the first time since I can remember, Notre Dame has ended up at #1, at least for now.  Go Irish!  Having two daughters and a son-in-law who graduated from ND, we are very big fans of the Irish.  My beloved LSU Tigers are at least in the top ten but did not have their best season.  I am surrounded, down here in SEC country, by ND haters.  The Irish get no respect down here....I guess we will see how they perform in the National Championship, I will be wearing my blue and gold!  After the bowl games are over I will be in post college football withdrawal, which could result in more blogging.  For now, let the decorating, shopping, baking and mailing begin!  Yikes!

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