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Christmas Tree & Reflection

Having trouble getting into the spirit? I’ve lined up a couple of weeks worth of fun holiday pictures I’ve scrounged and stolen from around the internet over the years, some of which I’ve shared before, some I haven’t.

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Christmas Truck

Having trouble getting into the spirit? I’ve lined up a couple of weeks worth of fun holiday pictures I’ve scrounged and stolen from around the internet over the years, some of which I’ve shared before, some I haven’t. s_c15_09549402

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Ghosts of Christmas Past, er, Present Part 4–Christmas Eve Now

 Part 1 The Hanging of The Greens

Part 2 On The First Day of Christmas

Part 3 Getting There From Here

We’ve had some good Christmas Eve celebrations over the past two decades or so, since my wife and I started celebrating together.  Each year we gather at my in-laws home with however many relatives and friends are available–sometimes as few as nine of us, sometimes closer to 29–and  spend the afternoon talking and laughing, catching up, calling out, the usual–with the occasional decimation of a shrimp cocktail and a cheese & crackers plate thrown in, but the main attraction is my mother-in-law’s meal, a combination of her Polish and Italian traditions that suits my tastes even more than a Thanksgiving Dinner.

S2007 Christmas_130 2007 Christmas_134he cooks a marinara sauce that is not only the best I’ve ever eaten, but which has a unique character unlike any I’ve tasted before, rich and simple, flavored with smoky cooked parmesan–and she only makes it at Christmas.  This is served over spaghetti, along with pierogies, fresh baked rolls, and a multitude of delicious sides for a meatless meal that makes both carb-counters and I cry, but for diametrically opposed reasons.  If you don’t get my implication: I’m the one crying for joy.

After dinner, there’s a bit more hanging around, but eventually the pious among us (which is pretty much everyone who doesn’t live at my house) takes turns slipping off to get dressed up for midnight mass.  When the time is right, then, we take our leave amidst Christmas wishes, but not to head home.  For the next 90 minutes or so we idle around town and the adjoining sprawl and take in the Christmas lights, carols singing from the car stereo.  There’s a lot of small talk and a lot of consideration as we evaluate the displays, but we’re not harsh judges.  If you’ve made the effort to celebrate by decorating your home/yard/pets you’ve got my appreciation.

For many years we did the light tour on the pretense of taking my wife’s great aunt Julie home, turning the 7-mile, 14 minute trip into a few hours of crawling through residential streets, but Julie’s up around 90 now and her vision has failed, so she’s no longer game.  I’ll always smile and think of her on the tour–I’d walk her to her back door, and she would “slip” a crumpled five dollar bill into my hand “for the ride.”  I tried to not to accept it the first time, and she pinched me on the wrist and chastised me.  The pinch hurt, and I remembered someone once telling me, “it’s good to be generous, but it’s important to know how to accept generosity graciously.”  So, hey: five bucks for me.

Christmas Tree 2012When we finally get home, it’s straight to “work.”  We hang stockings while more Christmas music plays, put out a plate of cookies and a cup of milk for Santa–one year we opted not to put out the milk, in fear that it would get warm for Santa, and left the cup and an invitation to serve himself from the refrigerator, but Santa hit the eggnog instead.  Hard.

Lesson learned.

Next up, from my wife’s childhood, the opening of a single Christmas present–a tradition I indulge–reluctantly, at first– because, well, I’m not in charge, even though it makes me nervous.  My mom was a Christmas despot–we weren’t allowed even a sniff of presents until everyone was awake in the morning.  Opening that present at night seems dangerous.

Christmas Tree 2008After that, it’s off to bed, where we all pile in for the reading of our favorite Christmas books, the ones saved after a month of reading to each other.  It used to me me reading all the stories, but now that the kids are mostly grown we take turns, although there are still calls for me to read “Marty The Christmas Moose” using goofy voices for all the characters.  They may be indulging me, but what the heck.

Then it’s off to bed. I used to wait to wrap all my presents on Christmas Eve, alone after everyone else turns in, right there in front of the tree, but I need my sleep more these days.  Oh, I still stay up a few minutes after everyone else, but I’m content to take a few laps around the house and look at the decorations and let what memories that may come venture into my mind.

 

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Christmas: Hell,Yeah.

truck

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Christmas Girls Lit

I normally try to wait a while–at least 6 hours, but often an entire day–between posts to, you know, let each post live and breathe a little before it gets pushed down the feed.  Not today.  That Luke Scott post, as quietly and unintentionally droll as I find it, is bugging the hell out of me.  I wasn’t even looking at it, happily going along with my day, but I couldn’t shake the little hissing voice in the back of my brain, reminding me that it’s there.  And like the little guy said, “We hates it, Precious.”

You’ve likely heard of buyer’s remorse.  This is writer’s remorse.  I will compensate with a slew of silly and provocative Christmas-themed images because I can, and because the ridicule I reap locally for such incursions beyond the realm of politeness make for excellent holiday party conversation fodder.  Girls lit up light Christmas trees: a little bit sexy, a little bit seasonal, and a fairly popular theme.

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http://flickeflu.com/photos/chiie/interesting
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/caitianne/3753452117/in/gallery-zlamperti-72157622993312262/

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Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve by mishainmadrid
Christmas Eve, a photo by mishainmadrid on Flickr.

Christmas Eve by mishainmadrid

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Christmas Truck

source unknown

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Nice To See You Again

Alright, alright, alright–good to be back after a nice ImageThanksgiving with family.  We plunged onto the highways after an overnight ice storm, which was pretty much a relief compared to the furious onslaught of snow, wind, and ice the meteorologists predicted.  We kept it slow, had a few iffy spots crossing the ridges (Pennsylvania has a series of high ridges along the spine of the Appalachians, oriented north to south, that a traveler must cross to go east or west–they don’t look like much if you’re accustomed to the Rockies, or the higher segments of the Cascades, but one takes them less than seriously at his or her own peril).  I have to admit that while I was clutching the steering wheel a little more tightly than usual, I was also enjoying the snow and ice–very seasonal, it got me in the mood. I’m unabashedly in love with the landscape I live in, and a grey day of wind and foul weather is just one of its moods.

Turkey, mashed potatoes, the best stuffing I’ve ever eaten, cranberry sauce, and all that good stuff.  Seven pies on the table, quarts of ice cream, and growlers full of some fairly mind-blowing microbrew from my cousin Jarrod, a beer genius who, after several years apprenticing with a prominent Pennsylvania brewer has been hired as a brewmaster for an ambitious mid-western brewpub–good for him, and good Imagefor us. We get to drink some sublime liquid bread, and he gets to support his family doing something that he utterly and passionately loves. How awesome is that?  How rare?  I’ll be writing about him again soon enough–to keep you posted, to tell you where you can sample his work.

I took most of the past week off from this blog while we were away, and also while I finished my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo–learned a few things along the way, too.  First, it is possible to sustain that pace for the better part of four weeks (I was actually done on the 26th)–something like 1800-1900 words/day.  Second, while doing so, one can expect to pump out some utterly horrific prose.  I got the words down–and will need about 20-30,000 to wrap things up–but the manuscript is a mess.  Still: I wrote 52,000 words in 26 days plus all the stuff I did here.  I even managed a couple of poems.  So I pretty much rocked.

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Got the Christmas lights on the house today, too. The girls and I got everything bright and shiny in about 40 minutes–amazing what you can do in a light coat, without wearing gloves, at 23 degrees F.  We were motivated.  No pix yet, but here’s a stylized shot of our hundred-year old homestead from several years ago.  We’ve since gone to LED lights, eliminating that $35 spanking the electric company used to deliver each December, when we were using the giant, old-fashioned C-9’s.  Highly recommend the LED’s.

So, that’s where I’ve been.  How about you?