I am a grouch when it comes to Christmas. I hate it. It is absolutely the most miserable time of the year. I have my reasons.
1. Living in Los Angeles get pretty monotonous with all this damn sunshine. It never really feels like anything but hot and hotter. The winters here are fake, and it sort of bleeds into spring. Just a little trickle of blood that you don't really notice until you get lemon juice in the wound to let you know that you cut yourself. Like "Oh, shit. It is already March?!" And that sort of bleeds into summer, which bleeds into fall, etc. I absolutely love the snow and really wish there would be some massive freeze that would make it snoe here for just one day.
2. The fact that retailers are putting up Christmas decorations before December 1st is pretty fucking annoying. As if Christmas is some sort of all powerful holiday that commands huge sales demands starting in July. Fuck! I hate that.
3. I just get lonely this time of year. Doesn't really matter what it is about, I just get down. This year I was lonely for Minnesota. Recently my younger sister Margaret and her man Mike moved back. Before that, my brother Anthony and his wife Alyssa moved back and had a baby, and my older sister Katherine is now engaged to be married in March. I feel like there is all this important stuff going on with my family that I don't want to be left out of because I live so far away. Babysitting my niece Ada is something I really wish I could do. Watching my nephew Teddy in a high school swim meet, or play in the school jazz band would be pretty fucking cool.
This year, however, was quite different.
1. Winter this year has been really wet and cold. With the exception of a freak heat snap that left us in the 80s for a few days, I have really enjoyed this winter. Autumn seemed to happen about 3 months after the fall in Minnesota, but it was pretty cool because it seemed to follow the calendar cycle of the seasons. It didn't really feel like winter until the solstice, in the middle of a big rain storm. I love it.
Mark also cleaned out the fireplace and we have been burning logs when it gets cold. That makes it feel like winter, just seeing a fire burning in the fire place.
2. I didn't actually mind seeing Christmas decorations up before the Halloween. I was actually pretty excited to see how pumped to have a visit form Santa got Madison. She really got into Christmas this year. She got a little Christmas tree with colored lights in her bedroom (which she helped to decorate), she sang Jingle Bells non-stop for the past week, and took a picture with Santa in order to introduce her baby brother to this fella in red. She got a pink bathrobe with flowers on it and a bike. To share with Robert she got a hardcore, red Radio Flyer wagon from Grandma and Poppie. It is a pretty sweet ride. Robert got some cute things too, but I guess it was kind of pointless, because really, what do you get a baby and it is not like the child is going to remember it. But, like my mom says, you have to give a kid something to open.
We also hosted Christmas at our house this year. I got to cook the main course and desserts, and could not have been more excited. I love cooking. I know something is wrong if I don't feel like cooking for an extended period of time (And personally, this is so empowering that I can recognize these signs.). I was totally amped. I made quail and pulled pork. What?! It's like only serving champagne and beer at a party, but seriously, it went together really well. The quail was just large enough to slightly satisfy an appetite and while the pulled pork was rich and hearty and really rounded out the meal. My mother-in-law Mareda made this amazing traditional bread dressing, my sister-in-law made green bean hot dish (my absolute favorite side dish!), and Mark's uncle Phil made some killer mashed potatoes (I hear they are good fried into little potato pancakes!). For dessert I made a white chocolate, espresso torte with hazelnut praline and a chocolate, almond and raspberry tart. Holy crap were they delicious! I can't say which one I liked better. Man, they were good. We followed up the evening by playing the dice game, while rather subdued, was a lot of fun. I also got to teach my nieces and nephews how to play Yahtzee, which was awesome.
Other accomplishments of the season:
- I found the pickle on the Christmas tree.
- I went to the mall to go shopping 2 days before Christmas. It was nuts, but the energy was pretty cool.
- I made Christmas cookies and candy.
All in all, this was a really good year. No lonely feelings, a warm, fuzzy feeling inside and a lot of fun with my California family. I'd say that Christmas was pretty effing rad.