Tuesday, December 25, 2012

List: Christmas Wonderfulness

1.  Friday was the first night of Winter Break, and we grabbed an auntie and headed to the mall to sit on Santa's lap, eat dinner at a restaurant where you order food with an iPad, and do a little shopping and a lot of soaking up the spirit and songs and window displays.  We started the evening with rockstar parking and ended it by finding a few funny gifts for friends.  It was the perfect start to some time off with family. 

2.  BFF Missy and her kids established an assembly line of toiletries and snacks at their house to make sock care packages for folks who are homeless. Big and Little Sis got to participate in the creation of a few of these stockings and we gave them out to brothers and sisters camping out under the freeway by our house. Thanks for the inspiration and opportunity, buddy.

3.  We came home from our annual Christmas Eve dinner tradition of red and green soups at Mammom's and Bampa's (minus Mammom and Bampa, who are with my sister and her husband and their three boys in Oregon) and I headed down the block to drop off a gift at our neighbor's house.  "Come back in ten minutes!" my neighbor/coworker exhorted us.  "You'll be just in time for Grandpa to play the accordion and our Christmas singalong!" 

I'm not one to turn down an accordion occasion, and it was as awesome as I thought it would be, with Grandpa accompanying and shouting out cues before various verses, "All the ladies now!" and a house full of family and friends.  Just when we thought the festivities were over, The Talent Competition was announced.  The first act was a family of red-nosed reindeer playing "Rudolph" on a keyboard.  Big Sis stepped up to be the second and last act, and won the competition with "If I Only Had a Brain" on the keyboard.  The prizes were scratch-off lottery tickets, and our neighbor host promised instant cash-out.  Big Sis walked away with $11 (from a party we crashed), while the second-place act reminded us that if it weren't for their keyboard...

4.  And then we returned home for construction time.  Christmas Wonderfulness features the cooperation and enthusiasm of determined Auntie and Honorary Auntie as well as Husband in the assembly of a key Santa gift, which we completed at midnight.  And note:  Honorary Auntie had already assembled one of these items in her own workshop at home the week prior, before we determined it was too big for the girls' bedroom.  And she still agreed to assemble one desk more.  Love.

5.  Big Sis has been asking for her own room.  And though we contemplated making a move to a different house this year, it wasn't meant to be (and wouldn't necessarily result in "own rooms," either).  Though she asked for a Kindle, Big Sis got "room of her own" for Christmas this year, in the form of a desk, lamp, blotter/calendar, bulletin board, and retro-refurbished chair set up in a corner of the bedroom which is now all hers.  I haven't been so excited about a gift in a long time. 

6.  Big Sis and Little Sis independently thought of and chose very thoughtful gifts for each other, and it made me teary to watch them exchange presents and observe their reactions.

7.  We spent mid-Christmas Day with Husband's family at our niece's house, where she hosted a scrambled-egg-and-bacon breakfast a la Grandma Shirley.  In keeping with tradition, we were packed in a small house and spilling out of doors, where there was scooter-riding, remote-control-helicopter-flying, and all combinations of relatives sharing conversations and love. 

8.  One of the coolest gifts received this year was for Big Sis--a set of juggling sticks from our niece.  Our niece demonstrated her crazy stick skills, inspiring Big Sis, who spent a good part of the morning practicing until she could catch one after flipping it in the air. 

9.  My dad's sister, Auntie, has stayed at our house this year--on the futon couch in the living room as that is the only "guest room" we've got.  That puts her front and center for all our goings-on and it's been great to have a guest so game.  Also, we went for a jog her first morning here...and she kicked my tail.  Note to self:  be fit like her when I'm 62. 

10.  We headed back to Mammom's and Bampa's for Christmas Dinner, which was actually breakfast made by my chef brother:  waffles, apple-cider doughnuts, and the family tradition of huevos rancheros (with fresh avocado).  We ate till stuffed, exchanged gifts, and then played Catch Phrase with the kids.  We came home with hearts and tummies full. 

Though our families couldn't all be together, we felt a special appreciation for the efforts of everyone near and far to create connections and continue traditions. 

And...another year of believing:  Magic.

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