Here it is, the Fourth Day of Christmas already. Not a calling bird in sight (would we recognize one if we saw it?), but I do have a few minutes to update you on some random facts about Christmas 2006 at the Cole House.
First, though, a note about the Twelve Days of Christmas. The flip side of my attempt to observe Advent as a season of waiting and preparation rather than the usual pre-Christmas frenzy, is that I also firmly believe Christmas Day should be, not the end of the season, but the kick-off to a traditional, medieval-style full twelve days of feasting and celebration. (Which, to my modern sensibility, means sleeping late, reading a lot, and eating chocolate). I try hard to keep the Christmas mentality going throughout the Twelve Days, and to honour the old-fashioned tradition (still observed by lots of people here in Newfoundland, though fewer as the years go by) of keeping the tree up till January 6, Old Christmas Day.
This attempt to be all traditional and milk the celebration for all it’s worth is somewhat hampered by my employer’s expectation that I will be back to work on January 3. It’s also affected by my own impatience — I love relaxing and lazing around during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but after New Year’s I quickly start to get impatient with the Chris-mess all over the house and want to haul down the decorations, put away the presents, and return my home to its usual state of pristine order (cue hysterical laughter here).
So, we are currently in Feasting and Merriment Mode though not convinced it will last all the way to Jan. 6. From Feasting and Merriment Central, here are a few highlights of the season:
Traditions Observed: Christmas Eve dinner with my extended family here at our house, highlight of the feast being lasagnas cooked by my dad. Lowlight, this year — Aunt Bernice stayed home with a cold, and we really missed her. Christmas dinner up at my parents’ place with turkey et al.
Only Known Drawback to Having Someone Else Do All the Major Christmas Cooking: No leftovers around the house. But we are struggling on, nonetheless.
Christmas Morning: Emma woke for the first time at 2:27 a.m. Yes, you read that right. She joyously announced it was Christmas morning and proceeded to toss and turn (in our bed of course) until she fell asleep again at 3:30. Then woke at 4:00. And 4:30. And so Christmas morning proceeded until 7:00 when we finally could delay the inevitable no longer and stumbled downstairs to open our presents. Fortunately the joy of watching our kids tear into the wrapping paper and exclaim with joy and awe almost offset the effects of the mind-numbing sleep deprivation.
As you can see from the picture, we had a green Christmas here in St. John’s, although some snow has fallen since then — most of the week has been piercingly cold but snowless. We’ve made it out for walks a few times to enjoy the sunshine when we have it, but there won’t be any tobogganing parties or snowmen until January, probably.
My Favourite Present: “Totally 80s” Trivial Pursuit!! I have a long history of loving Trivial Pursuit but people being unwilling to play with me. I like to think this is because I’m so goooood but it may also be because I’m so insufferable about my trivia knowledge. However my darling husband lovingly bought me a trivia game specializing in the Decade That Defined My Life, and was willing to play a game and be totally trounced by me. Later, he trounced back, but that’s another story.
Most Unexpectedly Successful Present: Emma’s Tickle-Me-Elmo. There’s a story behind this one. Having missed the original Elmo craze 10 years ago, I wasn’t even aware that a tenth anniversary edition was coming out, nor would I really have cared had I known. But apparently our 92-year-old Aunt Gertie saw it advertised on TV and conceived a wish that Emma should have a Tickle-Me-Elmo for Christmas. My mom (who does her shopping) tried to dissuade her, because she knows as I do that Emma is big into being a Big Girl and having outgrown baby toys such as Elmo, Winnie-the-Pooh, and other old friends. Aunt Gertie would not be swayed: Emma must have Elmo. My mom told me in advance this gift would require some diplomacy so that Emma would appear appropriately grateful despite whatever disappointment she might feel.
As it turned out, diplomacy was unnecessary. Emma was captivated with Elmo’s antics (oh I’ll admit it; we all were for awhile) and was able to thank Aunt Gertie quite sincerely. I know this is a novelty toy and that she will not enjoy and play with it over and over like she will with her Polly Pockets or Chris will with his gazillion Lego sets he got for Christmas … but as far as enjoying things in-the-moment goes, Elmo was a great gift as he allowed Emma to have a few laughs and Aunt Gertie to appreciate the laughter she’d looked forward to seeing on our little girl’s face. Maybe the very old and the very young do understand each other better than we in-betweeners understand either of them.
Most Disappointing Christmas Present: Inexpensive kid-friendly digital cameras we bought for the kids. These were a huge hit with our kids, who love photography, until they discovered that the cameras mysteriously deleted pictures from their memory before they could be downloaded to the computer. We still have no idea what’s erasing the pictures and can’t get any response from the manufacturer’s customer service, so we may end up returning these.
Most Relaxing Fun at Home (for me): Hanging around reading Robin Hobb’s Assassin trilogy (not a Christmas gift: I bought them for myself awhile ago but was saving them for Christmas holidays), eating the aforementioned chocolate, and watching the best-of Friends DVDs Jason bought me. They are from the first four seasons, which is great because the utter sucktasticness of the last few seasons had erased from my memory that Friends used to be laugh-out-loud, laugh-so-hard-you-can’t-breathe funny. It’s great to watch those early shows again.
Most Fun With Other People: Yesterday going to see Charlotte’s Web with Darryl, Cynthia and Brianna was fun (and we give the movie seven thumbs up!) … but the overall prize has to go to playing 80s Trivia with Jennifer, David and Greg here last night. I was totally paid back for my earlier cockiness by being soundly defeated … both David and Jason were way ahead of me for most of the game and Jason finally won. The good part was that we played till 1:30 and we were all completely exhausted so I was in that frame of mind when everything anyone says seems hysterically funny. I was literally weak with laughter. I hope everyone was as amused as I was by my bursting into song every time an 80s song I knew was the answer to one of the questions … though perhaps they may not have been. (I was singing Heart’s “Alone” when Greg asked, “Are your children exhibitionists too?” so possibly I may not have been as entertaining as I thought I was).
Tonight we’re having our annual Open House, a celebration of randomness which consists of inviting everyone we know and waiting to see who shows up and how they all get along together. We invite a widely diverse group of people every year yet somehow always end up with the same crew sitting around the living room talking at 1:00 as the evening draws to a close … we’ll have to see if this year is any different!