Christmas

Dec. 23rd, 2012 06:54 pm
afterallthistime: (nothing to say)
I love the anticipation of the holiday. That's something that I've always kept expecting to die, as awful and cynical as that sounds, and to be fair, I certainly feel the stress of the holiday now in a way I didn't when I was younger. Now I'm responsible for buying gifts, mailing cards, cooking dishes for various gatherings; there's social and financial pressure, there's the pressure of just not feeling like I have enough time (because on top of Holiday Stress, I now have Just Trying to Get Through the Goddamn Day Stress), and there's the issue of tying to juggle obligations with, not only friends, but two families.

It take a longer time for my to start feeling festive. When I was small, it was like, day after Thanksgiving, BAM. Time to put up the tree, and start Christmas shopping, and listening to Christmas music, and watching the Christmas specials they started airing every Saturday night, and having holiday parties at school, and shopping for Advent calendars, and and and. Now it's like, okay, I got out of work at 11 am on December 21st -- I think the first real stirring of "IT'S CHRISTMAS!!" hit me at about 8 am that same day. I don't know if it'd be different if I didn't work at the high school, if I wasn't exposed to kids who still get ridiculously excited to see their little cousins and get presents on go on trips and just be on vacation for ~2 weeks. But the enthusiasm is contagious. The last two years, my one-on-one was not a socially-motivated individual. He had virtually no interest in the holiday, and seemed to look at it almost in trepidation, as a change in routine (and he didn't like changes in his routine). This year, I'm with kids who approach the holiday with total abandon -- they are PSYCHED up for the season. On Friday, our first block class has a grand total of two (out of eight) kids -- Bill and I seriously just let them chill out, we talked about Christmas traditions in our various families and Bill played "a perfect blend of traditional Christmas music" from his iPad, which apparently includes "Mack the Knife" and "Baba O'Reilly" (epic!) We brought the kids down to breakfast around 8:30 and watched A Charlie Brown Christmas in Block 2, then sat around and listened to a mix of Christmas songs Block Three (I didn't know Sum 41 and The Kinks had Christmas songs, but apparently they do), and watched Wall-e Block Four. It was an actual, genuinely fun time spent with the kids, and went a long way to gearing me up for Christmas.

This year, Andy works on Christmas Eve, so sometime around 4pm, I'm going to meet up with my brother and spend the evening at my parents house; my mom went and bought this huge array of snacks and wine and I'm bringing over some games, and when Andy gets out of work at 2 am, he'll pick me up so I'll be home Christmas morning for breakfast (one of the few days I cook a "real" breakfast -- usually muffins, toast, eggs, bacon, and fried potatos). After breakfast and relaxing, we'll head to my parents to socialize, have dinner, and do gifts. Joce and Steve will be over for dinner and gifts too, and I am just... so looking forward to it.

I enjoy Christmas as an adult; I've had pretty rough patches with them, obviously, but in general, I've always had good to excellent relationships with both my siblings and my parents, and now that we aren't living together, Christmas is a little more signifigant; I see my folks about once a week (because my dad gives me a ride home when Andy works the day shift), but it's only for about an hour, during which time I basically have a cup of coffee with my mom and check work emails, sometimes I'll even take a nap, etc. It's like, almost a business visit, lol. The holidays are one of the few times when not only are we all together for signifigant time, but when we are all actively engaged with one another. That, more than the "seeing each other" bit, is what sets it apart.

There is something to be said about those Christmases at home, though. My siblings and I are fairly close in age (I'm 30; my sister is 28 and my brother is 26), and when we were young -- but not too young; young, but not "little" -- we were like these time bombs of anticipation. My sister and I would get into bed fairly early (we shared a room, and even when we didn't, she'd often camp out with me on Christmas; we do that to this day, on the nights I stay at her house) and read magazines or favorite books to each other until we fell asleep, and we'd inevitably be awake again by, like 3:30 am, at which point we'd have those kinds of whispered conversations that are complete and utter fluff but are just WAY TOO FUCKING HILARIOUS to the parties involved, and then sneak out of our room into my brother's. He was always asleep, but SPRUNG awake as soon as we crept up to his bed. We'd huddle in the living room on the pull-out couch with chips and whatever candy we'd already been able to finage out of our parents and watch tangentially-related Christmas stuff on late night TV. It was never, like, classic Christmas fare on at that time of the morning, it was always something like seasonably appropriate infomercials (which, again, were SO FUCKING HILARIOUS) or things like, one year, the Beavis and Butthead Christmas episode? I remember nothing about it except that it existed, and we watced it at like 4 in the morning, and my brother could do a fucking SPOT ON, UNCANNY Beavis impression. There was just always this buzz, and part of it was to do with sleeplessness and the quietness and relative solitude of that time in the morning, and part of it was likely to do with a nostalgia that we were already feeling (we didn't believe in Santa anymore, but we still followed a lot of the traditions from when we were younger, getting dressed up and going visiting on Christmas Eve, seeing the relatives we only saw once a year). And part of it was just... I don't know. I just remember, really clearly, one of those Christmas nights, looking out the window around 4 am with Joce and Rob, and it had just started snowing, and the entire street was lit with people Christmas lights, and it was just so profoundly quiet, and we were so awake and excited. That's something I've not been able to reclaim, but then again, I haven't really tried to. Once that level of wonder goes, it goes. I think what we share now is different, but not lesser. It's appreciation on a different level.

All my gifts are done, all but two are wrapped. The house is almost clean (need to tidy up the craft room, which was the hub of Christmas crafting, and wipe down the bathroom). I'm going to take the plunge and put ornaments on the tree, if only to see how River reacts to them (no lights, though; all I need is for her to decided her bestest, most favoritest Christmanas wish is to be garroted by festive lights). I'm making dinner and folding laundry and looking very much forward to tomorrow.

I'd like to do a Bucket List update/revision before the end of the year, but as I don't quite know what the next few days will bring, Merry Christmas if you celebrate, and a wonderful start to your new year, if I miss it.

I leave you with a lovely, nerdy Christmas video that my siblings and I ran into on TV during one of those Christmas nights when we weren't quite so little anymore ;)

afterallthistime: (grammaphone)
How It Works:

Post to your DW/LJ (publicly or locked) with a list of ten things you want to receive for the holidays. They can be anything, from a personalized DW/LJ icon or drabble to a purebred puppy - as long as all the items on the list are things that you genuinely want.

If there's anything on your list that needs to come to you through the mail, make your shipping address available, but please be safe about it and don't post that part publicly - just specify how people should go about getting it.

Next:
Look around your circle/friends list for others who have posted the meme. (The more who do, the better this works, so encourage them!) If you see a wish you can grant, GO FOR IT. You might find a little thing you can do for free that will make someone happy, or you might just discover that a stranger is longing for the exact boxed set of DVDs that you no longer want.
mps, for
Don't spend money unless you want to, and don't commit to more than you can handle without stressing yourself. There are no rules to this project, no guarantees, and no strings attached. If someone surprises you with a gift certificate to the restaurant you never thought you'd get to go to, don't feel guilty or obliged to return the favor. The point is to spread around a lot of opportunities to grant wishes - use them as you see fit, and remember that your list gives those opportunities to others!

Tips:

Dream big, but stay practical. If you really want the Mercedes, put the Mercedes on the list, but don't forget that you also really want some feedback on the story you wrote - so put that on the list too. It's fun to imagine something huge happening through this meme, but we'll recognizes the unlikelihood of it and make sure our friends still have a chance to do something thoughtful that's within their means.

Put limits on yourself for what, but not who: if you've decided that you can spend a few hours drawing a picture, but none of your friends are asking for one, keep looking for wishlists - you might even make a new friend or two! Ask people to link their lists for you, and don't be afraid to post your own in a few places.

My wishlist )

Link me to yours; I'm on a relatively tight budget, but I'll do what I can. If you need my address for anything, PM me.
afterallthistime: (Default)
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Aaahh, I love Christmas music. Oddly enough, despite not being a hugely religious person (I believe in God and I like a lot of the rituals, but I'm not particularly rigid or dogmatic), most of my favorite Christmas songs are religious, with one or two exceptions.

In no particular order:

1. Mary, Did You Know?
2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
3. O Holy Night
4. O Come All Ye Faithful/Adeste Fidelus
5. Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel
6. Little Drummer Boy
7. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
8. Carol of the Bells
9. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

There are "poppy" Christmas songs I like, too, though give me a quirky re-working of one of the above and I'll likely love it just as much. I do NOT like songs like "Rudolph" or "Frosty" or any of those; I have a soft spot in my heart/mind for the Christmas specials (well, not Frosty, screw him. I have always had an irrational dislike of Frosty. No, I can't explain. Some long buried trauma involving sentient snowmen, I suspect), but if one of those songs come on the radio and I have ANY say in the matter, we will switch to another station.
afterallthistime: (holy crap)
Well, cheerful for me, anyway. Your mileage may vary. I suppose it really depends on how emotionally invested you are in my happiness??

1. Andy let me open two of my Christmas presents early, because he got his Christmas present early (his dad is paying for his new MASSIVE desktop monitor). The two presents were a super cute Hello Kitty notebook and eraser set... and the three disc special edition Pirates; no, not the Disney Pirates, but Pirates, as in, the most expensive pornographic movie ever made, and winner of a record-breaking 11 Adult Video News Awards. We've seen it prominently displayed in a number of adult stores over the last couple of years, and we always kind of wanted to get it, but the price made us hesitate. Well, now I own it. It's three discs, and includes a crazy amount of bonus material. It's pretty awesome.

2. For the Hello Kitty notebook, I am creating a New Year's Resolution/Bucket List, outlining all the things I want to accomplish in the next year and beyond. So far I have fourteen things, but I'm sure the list will grow rapidly. Still, just seeing these things written down feels good.

3. BFI screening of the first episode of Sherlock season two, and I am not quite sure if I'm in the minority in this or not (Tumblr seems very bipolar about this), but I WANT spoilers. Not major, massive spoilers - I just want a resolution to the "is Irene a love interest for Sherlock" question. And... maybe some other little details. Who am I kidding, really, with very few exceptions, I'm kind of a spoiler whore. I want to know what happens, guys. It will NOT diminish the actual viewing experience for me, I swear.

4. Got the rest of the supplies for the remainder of my Christmas gifts, and will try to work on at least two of them tonight. It's nice to be this far out from Christmas and just wrapping things up.

5. Took today off, woot!

6. I'm going to a small, but welcome and well anticipated Christmas gathering on Friday night, followed by (hopefully) some chilling with my friends on Saturday, and then The Slutcracker on Sunday. I love moderately busy weekends, especially ones with a good balancing of productivity and relaxation (which I hope this coming one will be, I do have some chores I need to do, maybe Friday after work, or (if my friends are super patient) early Saturday morning.

7. Andy is making dinner tonight, and it's another one of his fusion ideas - Asian inspired pizza. I will post an entry to let you all know how that turns out, but needless to say, I'm equal parts intrigued and horrified. Still, his last fusion dish was really, really good, so I'll keep an open mind (despite what he says about me being "mean" about his cooking, every meal he's made with one notable exception* has been really good, so I think he's just a crybaby).

I have no ending for this, so I take a small bow.

* Scrambled eggs, dumped into pancake batter, and fried in a pound of bacon grease. I had three bites and was nearly sick. He ate the whole damn thing.
afterallthistime: (Default)
Is Trans-Siberian Orchestra ever anything less than amazing? I've seen them three times, and the answer is "no," at least never during any of the shows I attended (note: the lead guitarist mentioned that this had been their twelfth stop in Boston, and did anyone go to their first show, way back, at The Orpheum? I'm super bad at math, so I had to count backwards, and realized that YES, I had been at their very first Boston show in December of 2000 with my at-the-time-friend, Kara. I remember the Orpheum being a mess, having ridiculously cool floor seats, and the show being awesome and ear-plittingly loud. Our seats this time were fantastic, btw).

They performed their usual Christmas set - "Christmas Eve and Other Stories" - which is my favorite of their three Christmas albums and obviously a fan favorite as well. I think they've had the same man narrating all the east coast shows since the first time I saw them, though the roster of musicians has changed. After the Christmas set, they did some songs from "Night Castle" and a couple of other Christmas songs ("Christmas Canon," which remains my mom's favorite), and capped the evening off with "Requiem (The 5th)" from "Beethoven's Last Night." I took some photos on my phone that look, if nothing else, sharp, though small and not particularly good shots, objectively (I don't have a great camera on my phone). Those will likely eventually be added to Facebook, but I probably won't post them here (not when better material is available for demonstrative purposes - thank you, Internet!)

Media from the Boston show, 11/27/11 )

Thus concluded a wonderful mini-holiday break; the following several days were less enthusiatically recieved, though it hasn't actually been a bad week.

I'm starving, and think I may buy a salad for lunch. Ciao.
afterallthistime: (Default)
Thanksgiving was fab-u-lous. Made a brocolli casserole that was the least healthy vegetable dish since pizza - a Paula Deen recipe that included eggs, a cup of mayonaise, cheese, Ritz crackers, and Cream of Celery soup - but went over well. We got there around noon, and I hung out with my dad and my brother, drinking wine and chatting. I don't have a large immediate family, nor do I live particularly far from my folks and my brother, but it's grown increasingly rare that I'm ableto get my entire family together at once, much less have them all focused on one another. Joce and Steve didn't make it until after dinner - which was fantastic, as usual - but when they arrived, we all hung out, played games, drank yet more wine (my sister and I lean toward the lush side) and made inappropriate jokes, much to my mother's chagrin. It was a lot of fun; Andy and I stuck around to watch a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (which I enjoy just as much now as I did when I was a kid) and Andy and I left around 9.

Yesterday, we hung out at Camelot for "Pie Day," which was slightly quieter than Andy and I had anticipated, but did, as promised, have pie. We played several rounds of Argugraph (the game that Andy designed) with Piper and various other Camelot residents, a few rounds of Dominion, and several hands of Apples to Apples with Jay (my father-in-law) and Josiah. Playing Apples to Apples with my brother- and sister-in-law is an experience because neither of them ever know who any of the "people cards" are, and as a result, will either play them at inapproriate times, or totally disregard completely relevant ones on their judging turn because they have no clue who they are. It's really amusing, though my mind reels at the gaps in Piper's knowledge (Josiah is 10, so there's so reason there, but Piper's edging in on 16 and her lack of recognition of some names just boggles the mind). It was fun, though there was little to no traditional "dinner" food available, so afterwards we stopped at Cafe Azteca, which was, of course, quite yummy.

Today was tree day - woot! We shopped around at The Salvation Army for decorations earlier, but only found one (a cute candle holder), and put up the tree. The apartment does look kind of lacking in the decorations department, but I guess that's natural for the first Christmas living on one's own. We'll have to splurge on the after Christmas sales so we can glitz up the place next Christmas.

Tomorrow is the TSO show at the Garden - psyched. Happy that the month is almost over, glad that December is going to be an interesting month with plenty to do (including, likely, another parent meeting that I'm not exactly dreading, but I'm not looking forward to, either). Still - Slutcracker, Yule Ball, Christmas party, Christmas itself, New Year's Party, etc. And two weeks (eh, slightly less, siiigh) off of work.

Tonight, more Frasier, more lounging, more existential career angsting (but that's another story). Hope everyone's holiday weekend has been pleasant, enjoy the rest of it ♥ ♥ ♥

Holidays!

Nov. 16th, 2011 07:53 pm
afterallthistime: (Default)
In two parts.

Part One: Wishlist

Inevitably, every year, those people who buy me gifts ask what it is that I want for Christmas, and, inevitably, I come up empty handed. This year is not much different -- I really had to wrack my brain to think about what I'd like that I probably won't run out and buy for myself (at least not right away). I came up with a few things that I've been wanting to buy but have either put off for the sake of other purchases or decided weren't important enough at the time and put on the backburner.

1. Throw pillows (brown, tan, blue), either in patterns or solid colors, for the living room.
2. Wall art for the bedroom (again, browns and blues) in floral, nature (birds/woodlands, etc.)
3. Adhesive wall art for the kitchen -- particularly quotes, especially regarding coffee/cafes.
4. A new pair of sneakers/running shoes (I have a knock-off pair of "Shape-Ups," they aren't the Sketchers brand, but they're of a similar design, and falling apart).
5. Decorative pieces for my living room, in seascape/nautical themes (boats, lighthouses, etc).
6. Black and white gesso, and any kind of rubber stamps/inks. Stamping is one of the few things I'd like to include in my crafting, but haven't really started to collect supplies for.
7. Any of the Fandom Against H8 merchandise for any of my fandoms.
8. MarieLikesToDraw fanart - particulalryl "And the World Stopped Turning" or "Constantly."

Part Two: Cards

I know how much I love recieving mail, and I sort of feel most people feel the same way. I usually send out holiday cards the first week of December, but to ensure I have enough, I thought it would be good to get a "head count" now. If anyone would like a holiday card, send me an LJ message (they're forwarded to my e-mail).

Now back to crafts and (ironically), the Season 1 Christmas episode of Frasier.
afterallthistime: (Default)
Hubby and I bought a tree. A fake one, because a.) holy crap, trees are expensive, and b.) holy crap, pine trees shed (we had a real tree one year when I was much younger; that was the year we discovered that 1.) my dog loved - no, like, really loved - pine trees, 2.) my mom was allergic to pine trees, and 3.) pine trees are a bitch and half to clean up after, particularly if you have a carpeted floor). We got ours at Big Lots, because we are unflinchingly ghetto, and because Big Lots is awesome and has good deals on stuff. While there I also got a bunch of gift bags, Christmas cards, tree lights, and gift tags. Boo-yeah.

I know it's early, but time has been moving so quickly lately, I feel like I get up in the morning, and the next thing I know I'm getting ready for bed and it's night time, and oh my god where did the day/week/month go? I'm doing a mad dash to get Christmas gifts/crafts/errands done, partly because I honestly, genuinely like Christmas, and preparing for the holiday (making gifts for friends, writing out cards, decorating, baking, etc.) are some of the highlights of the year for me, but also because I'm afraid I'll wake up mid-December and realize, holy crap, I did none of the stuff I was supposed to do.

In the "mixed blessings" department, I will not, in fact, be hosting Thanksgiving this year, because my family does not want to be anywhere where they can't smoke (my apartment has a "no smoking" clause). I'm more than a little upset by this, because, really? I don't hate on smokers - I was a smoker, stopped because it was in my lease, really, and because it hindered my workout - but it's not like I look down on smokers or anything, that's petty and hypocritical. But it does kind of bother me that they couldn't go, what, a couple of hours without smoking (not even, because they can smoke on the property, just not in the house - also they live, literally, a mile away. I'm one city over. It's not like they're travelling). BUT - this is good, in that it's not yet one more thing I have to focus on this month, since I'm doing a ton of crafting, plus NaNo, plus trying to get back on track with things, like, oh, the penpals who I wrote to once and then forgot about?? Because I do that. A lot. Anyway, I told mom I'd bring a side, just let me know what, and we can have Thanksgiving over there. Whatev.

Mostly, I can't believe how close to the end of the year it is. Where did it go??

Also, up on the schedule for this week: meeting after work tomorrow (2:30 to 4:30), then gym; hosting dinner for Jamie and Dan on Thursday; no work Friday, but cleaning the house (like, really, really, on-my-hands-and-knees-scrubbing-the-floor cleaning the house on Friday (because I have the day off)), and travelling to Derry with my folks and Andy on Sunday to have brunch at Mary Anne's with my sister and her fiance. Still trying to work out plans for Saturday, if anyone has suggestions, hit me up, yo.

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afterallthistime: (Default)
we understand the lights.

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