Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Best Ever!

There's a running joke in my family that each Christmas is The Best One Ever, because each holiday is filled with love and laughter and warmth and goodness. This year was no exception. Christmas Eve, Jim and I woke up late, packed the bounty of presents we would be distributing into the car, and headed to my parents' place. We got into town and discovered that Jersey ended up with far more snow than we did for once, and we were pleased to have that be the case. Once we made it safely to my parent's place, the good times commenced. There was food to be eaten, punch to be drunk, a tree to be decorated, and presents to be wrapped. It was a lovely evening, and Jim and I spent the night next to the Christmas tree again.

Since it has been brought to my attention that my family finds my childlike wonder and glee a bit excessive on Christmas morning, I elected to read for a bit once I woke up and spare them the usual antics. Nobody noticed, naturally, nor was particularly thankful for my forbearance. Kate and her man wandered over early (7:30, which is about our usual time, i think) for breakfast and presents, and we had a lovely time discovering how good we were to each other. I ended up with a brulee torch (i have wanted one for years, i feel every home renter should have one), some gorgeous laceweight that will be a shawl for me, and a shopping spree from Jim, among other things. Jim was gifted with two bottles of his favorite vodka from various housemates, a fancy keyboard, and an Xbox controller. He's decided he wants an antique rifle, but because of the weather last weekend, I wasn't able to get it for him before Christmas. Still, better late than never, no?

After a lovely brunch, we headed back home for the next round of presents with Jim's family, and to start dinner. Once again, we were spoiled lavishly, and returned the favor in kind. Kate and Patrick came up for a dinner of ham, mashed potatoes, and various vegetables. The company was wonderful, and the food was pretty tasty. The best part, though, was that Jim's mom did the dishes! After dinner, we all sat around keeping each other company, and Patrick and I played a round of Left 4 Dead 2, our current household obsession.

The rest of the weekend has been peaceful and quiet, and thanks to the rain yesterday, most of the snow is gone. Jim took me out for the first round of my shopping spree, and our first stop was wonderful. Since I spent so much time in a work uniform before this job, and so little in presentable clothing otherwise, I asked for clothes for Christmas. Jim gave me a gift card and free reign. We stopped at Ross and picked up about eight different shirts (only two or three of which are black. i'm trying to add some color to my wardrobe. it's sort of working) and a gorgeous cranberry-colored blazer (it makes my waist look tiny and my bust look enormous. i am in love) and then headed for the mall. That, dear friends, was a mistake. We sat in traffic for about forty five minutes after what is normally maybe a fifteen minute ride. We finally made it to the mall, and it was crowded. We dared to try a jewelry store so I could get my finger sized. No such luck. They weren't very busy, but they were definitely trying hard to ignore us. This was the case in very nearly every store we went to, sadly. I came away from the mall with nothing but a new bra, since I need one without an underwire. Still, I have a good chunk of money left on my card, and we can shop some other weekend, when things are less frantic.

Today, I'm relaxing and knitting one of the scarves I've promised to various people. I'm also going to find myself a gorgeous lace pattern to make a shawl out of. Since there's no time limit, and I've managed a basic piece of lace, I'm feeling adventurous. We'll see how this works out.

I hope everybody's holiday was full of warmth and love and laughter and wonderful people and good food. If it wasn't, you can feel free to come spend the holiday with us next year, we'd be happy to show you a good time.

In review:

--Christmas rocked! Hope yours did, too
--I am never going to a mall on December 26th again. Ever.
--Lace knitting is on the horizon. Once I get through these plain scarves, anyway.
--There's too much stuff in my house for me to spin right now. That makes me all kinds of sad.
--Four-day weekends fly by like you wouldn't believe.
--Comment moderation has been turned on because some of my posts are getting spammed. Sorry, guys.
--Jim told his sister it was okay to take me ring shopping. I'm trying not to make too big a deal out of this. Probably not succeeding, though.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Almost Ready...

...for Christmas, of course! The house is decorated, the tree is standing proud (and tall, much to colleen's dismay) and is covered in lights and ornaments, and at long last, almost all of the shopping is done. We got some snow this weekend, and were only just able to get out to shop for a few hours today.

I'm not sure what our final snowfall totals were, but I'm inclined to call it 'enough' (it's drifted in a lot of places, but it comes up to just about my knees). Jim and I went out to grab some groceries yesterday and check road conditions, and things were gross. We decided to cancel all of our plans and stay inside. Dadumms and I had planned on doing some shopping together today, but things were still pretty messy when I woke up, and I decided it would be better to try to get some of my shopping done locally than to risk heading down to Jersey. I missed shopping with Dadumms this year, we go every year we're able to shop together. It's a lot of fun, unless we've both got the flu and are pumped full of cold medicines.

We've only got a three day week coming up, because Jim and I both took Christmas Eve off. It was a delight to me to just be able to submit a request and have it approved without threats, drama, or other types of insanity. I could get used to this.

Jim and I are heading down to my parents' place Christmas Eve, then back up here Christmas Day, where we'll host dinner with his parents. Kate and Patrick might come up, if they're feeling like making the drive. I invited Momolla and Dadumms, too, (and el, naturally) though they don't like to travel on Christmas. Momolla's response was that they would come up when I had small children. Hopefully, she realizes that there will be no children here for years yet. I'm finally starting to get my life back into some semblance of order, and I'm not prepared to start a family until I've finished school and made a few other changes.

Our company let Jim and me spearhead our annual Toys for Tots drive, since our landlady is involved with the organization, and we wanted to contribute this year. Last year, we were all incredibly broke, and we bought as many toys at the dollar store as we could. I sacrificed some of my already tight decorating budget for it, but we were determined to bring some toys with us. This year, we were able to pick up several toys of our own to donate, and our co-workers helped us fill the back of my Jeep. Our goal is to raise two truck loads next year. We are nothing if not ambitious.

It felt really, truly wonderful to be able to give to charities and to help people who needed it. This has been an undeniably tough year all around, but I am finally in a position to help. I'm not rich, but I'm also not forced to choose between food and fuel for my truck any more. There have been so many times, especially this past year, when people have stepped forward to offer me support and assistance. It was fantastic to know that I was able to do the same, albeit rather more anonymously. There are still things I want but can't afford, but those are all luxuries. I have enough, more than enough, to survive comfortably, but there are so many people out there who don't. We also donated to a huge local food drive put on by our favorite radio station every year. They raised over 150 tons of food. I can't wrap my mind around that number, it's so high. This food drive is one of the primary sources of supplies for the food bank they support, and the donations are put to use year-round. Because of the economic upheaval the country's gone through, demand is even higher than ever. Amazingly enough, so were donations. Just when you think there would be less donations, less support, less resources, people dig even deeper and surprise you.

Some people tell me Christmas is for kids. They see how excited I get by the lights and by the magic. Maybe that's the part we lose as we get older, the magic. But to me, it's always there, every year. Because for a span of a few all too brief weeks, people are willing to come together to help one another. We believe that one day, there will be peace on earth. We give because it's right, not because it's easy or makes us look good (though there really is no wrong reason to give). People see the potential for kindness and compassion that we have, and they go out of their way to realize it. We concentrate on the people we love, even the ones who drive us batshit crazy, and we are softer to them (unless they are eating all our cookie dough or refusing to let us get a big christmas tree) , and to ourselves. There's magic in getting a present, in realizing somebody loves you enough to give you something. There's even more magic in giving something to the people you love. There is magic in being surrounded by family (and we all know that two people can be a family, and that family of the heart is as valid as family of the blood) and friends. There's so much magic in sharing warmth and laughter and comfort. The beauty fades and the magic wears off so quickly, we have to savor it while it lasts.

I have been absent from the blog much more than I like recently, because after I spend my entire day on teh interwebs putting out fires, I pretty much come home and goof off, then go to bed. I still love my job, but it's becoming apparent to me that my company is not as strong on the planning front as I would like. We recently started a promotion in conjunction with two of the forums we work with to offer a $12 gift card for $10. It's a pretty good deal, and we had good, strong sales on these cards (one guy bought 110 of them. i hate him). We also offered 'random' car parts and gift card upgrades. What we forgot to do was find a let people buy a $12 card for $10. Our computer generated about 370 $10 cards, which we sent out to customers. Once we caught the error, early last week, we spent the whole week running around trying to fix things. It's been a long, exhuasting, irritating process, and the whole sorry mess could have been avoided if any of us had stopped to think. A whole lot of people looked at this promotion before it went live, and none of us questioned how we'd make ten equal twelve. but for all that, I still have the best job ever.

In review:

--Tree? Check!
--Lights? Check!
--Tchockes? Double check!
--10 does not equal 12. Assuming it will if you just tell people it does will not make it so.
--We were able to donate to a food drive, and to Toys for Tots. It feels great to give back.
--Spinning? What spinning?
--Snow is really pretty, until you have to dig your car out and shovel your walk. Then the novelty wears off really fast.
--Holy crap, it's going to be 2010 soon. Shouldn't we have flying cars and food replicators by now?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 5 Word Blog

Tonight, we're getting a tree!