Merry Christmas (Observed)!

First there was Christmas (observed) at our house. Since Mandy’s always in Tulsa for the first half of her holiday break, we always open presents either before or after that trip. This year, Saturday the 22nd was the day chosen to observe the gift-giving part of our holiday. We kept things pretty simple this year, and most of our gifts to each other involved needed outdoor gear. A stack of books grew as we opened our presents, too, as it always does. 2012 12 22 Gifts We’ve tried to move away from using lots of wrapping paper and toward reusing gift bags and lidded boxes. But I think some of our presents may have gone a little too far away from ‘festive’ toward ‘cheerlessly utilitarian.’ Continue reading “Merry Christmas (Observed)!”

It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Bryan and Mandy insist that we have a real Christmas tree, and while I grouse and complain about it, I really don’t mind. I like supporting our tree farming people, and I like the way a real tree looks and smells in the house. Someone meets us at the truck with a saw when we first pull in, and we spend some time wandering around with it, looking for the perfect tree. My role, once at the farm, is to prevent Bryan and Mandy from choosing a stupid Christmas tree. They tend to be distracted by such trivial things as “it’s the right height” and “it’s pretty.” My job is to keep them from picking a tree that has giant holes in the cone, or a tree with a badly curved trunk. This year I had to discourage them from choosing a tree that was obviously deceased, though I really think they were kidding when they started cutting this one. They choose the tree; I have veto power. This means that the whole process of tree – shopping usually takes a couple of hours. Continue reading “It’s Starting to Look a Lot Like Christmas”

Holiday Decorating 2011

When we pulled up in front of Bradbury’s Christmas Tree Farm, a boy in a red ball cap met us at the truck with a smile and a saw. Bryan and Mandy choose our tree based on height, color and even-ness; I have veto power because I’m the one who notices when a tree’s trunk is so crooked it won’t fit well in the tree base. Then it was home to put up the tree. This year we recorded another time-lapse video (that’s it up top) of decorating the house. And now we’re ready for the holiday season, full of music and food and naps and presents and friends

Jingle Bell Jubilee Parade

Our Unicycle Support Group decided to ride in the Little Rock Christmas Parade this year. Since we hadn’t thought to register separately, we just rode with the cyclists from BACA. But we all wore green shirts and we made a sign. (We forced the non-unicyling member of the Vire family to carry the sign, and he handled the task with aplomb and grace once we removed most of the tinsel.) The parade was fun. I rode a bike with panniers to hold the green and red beads (leftover from Mardi Gras 2010) we passed out to the people we rode past. Mitch and his kids and Mandy and Luke did stars and hopped around and played tag and were just generally goofy. Since we were between a float sponsored by a windshield company (complete with a grumpy-looking old lady in a plywood sleigh) and a handful of Quakers with “Peace on Earth” signs, people enjoyed having something funny to watch. The parade was a success and we’ll do even better next year (when I can ride, too!)

Christmas 2011

We had a good Christmas weekend at our house. We slept late several days in a row, and we ate Chinese food at two different restaurants. We went on a long bike ride with a friend. It’s true that there were lots of presents – we worked together to choose and send gifts to family and friends, and when Mandy got home from her trip to Tulsa, we took turns opening gifts from other family members and friends, and gifts for us from each other. At our house, Christmas isn’t a religious holiday. And while we do like presents, we try hard not to focus on them. We celebrate Christmas by taking the time to stop everything else we’re doing and be with the people we love. We drink eggnog together and we lay in a pile on the couch, reading, for hours and hours, because it is Christmas, and because these are the people we care most about in the world, and because what we want is to be here, with them, in this warm house, always.

Holiday Ride

Our nearby bike shop, Outskirts, had a holiday party / ride / bike-decorating contest this year. We all decorated our bikes. I was proud of mine – I zip-tied a mini-tree to the back rack, and wired the ornaments securely to the branches. It even had a tree skirt and a wrapped gift underneath, and I tied a ‘happy holidays’ tag to the saddle. At the last minute, I wrapped some tinsel icicle sheets around the bar-ends and secured them with gaffer tape. They look like the plastic streamers on the yellow banana-seat bike I had as a kid – but they’re prettier. Mandy bought blue LEDs and Bryan helped her rig up a battery pack to run them. We attached a plain white box to her rack, to hold the electrical stuff, and tied it shut with pretty blue ribbon. Bryan wrapped his bike with three dollars’ worth of silver garland. As a nod to Christmas in New Orleans, Mister Bingle rode on the front. The party was everything parties should be – it had cookies, and it was very short. After a half hour or so, we went to a nearby neighborhood to ride around and look at the holiday lights. It was a fun ride – nearly thirty people, most of the bikes decorated in some way with garland and lights and bows, riding though a dark neighborhood together. A handful of people sang. At one house, we interrupted what appeared to be a holiday party – when our group rode back by, about a dozen people were standing on the porch to wave at us. We rang our bells and yelled ‘Merry Christmas!” back at them. And guess what? I won the ‘Best Decorated Bike’ contest! I have a great new super-bright headlamp for my bike!

Tree Killers

Once again our family drove out to the Bradbury Christmas Tree Farm (9427 Donna Lane, Mabelvale, AR) and cut down a live tree. Mandy and I really like fresh trees so we haven’t fallen prey to the fake tree craze that everyone else seems to buy into. This year we DID get a wreath, though, and trimmed it to match the tree. We hung our stockings over the fireplace (and the cats’ stockings over the litterbox.) We carefully set the cards from friends on the mantel, where they fall down every time we walk past. And now, we’re ready for the holidays!

Christmas (Observed)

Since Mandy is always out of town on the 25th, in Tulsa, we manage to drag the holiday out for several extra days. This year, because I work for the university, I had a week and a half off for Christmas. We slept late every day, and I made something yummy for breakfast, every single day. On Christmas Eve, Bryan made a holiday meal of homemade moo goo gai pan with our favorite cheap white wine. Wine & Tree On Christmas day, we took extra naps and went out for a traditional Christmas Dinner at the local Chinese buffet restaurant. On the day after Christmas, I discovered that the afternoon squares of sunshine appear on the living room floor just as I get sleepy. Trust the universe. And today, Sunday, Mandy’s home, and now it’s really Christmas! We went out for Chinese food again, and then we put on our pajamas, which she insists we wear while opening holiday gifts. We opened our presents and drank Bryan’s eggnog and watched the Charlie Brown Christmas Special on the laptop.

She’s Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas

Mandy tried out for a cute little part in the choir’s Christmas program: “My favorite things” from the sound of music, I think. You know, the “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” song. The teacher gave those parts to quiet, sweet girls with ribbons in their hair. She had our daughter sing “I broke my bat on Johnny’s head, somebody snitched on me.” It’s almost as if the choir teacher knew about that incident in which the classroom bully-boy got a black eye. Which was of course an accident. Or the time when Mandy accidentally stepped on Hunter’s head. It was purely coincidence that he’d just said something mean to her. The high school auditorium was packed; I’ll bet there were two thousand people there. Mandy wore a hat and sang on key. We enjoyed the program and were proud of her. Here’s the solo part to Mandys Christmas concert/song… thank me later for just putting up the solo and not the whole two hour concert (complete with a song about Santa in camo… I hate Saline County sometimes).