Thursday, December 25, 2008

Fa ra ra ra ra, Ra ra ra ra.

This is our first Christmas in our new house. As these things go, it hasn't been exactly exciting, but then we haven't put all that much effort into it.

After realizing just how much work it would be to bust out all our Christmas decorations and keep the dog and cat out of a tree, we forwent any decorating this year. We didn't even put up any of the wife's mangers, nor a wreath, nor taped Christmas cards to the back of the door, as per annual tradition. I had considered putting up stockings on the mantle around our wood stove for us and the circus animals, but then didn't. So the house wasn't very festive to look at. That's okay, because we usually rely upon my in-laws to decorate for the holidays, as that's where we tend to spend Christmas eve and day. Unfortunately, this year the wife is on call for the hospital on Christmas, so we can't leave for the in-laws until Friday and have to spend Christmas eve and day at home.

I am proud to say that I had already purchased the wife's Christmas presents a couple months back, having paid close attention to various things I knew she liked but which she didn't buy herself. The wife, has far less free time on her hands, though, and has been bugging me for weeks to tell her what I want, a request I've been mostly uncooperative with. Part of me still wants to be surprised and hates to even say what it is I'd really like for fear of ruining it. The trouble with shopping for me, though, is that I'm very tricky to shop for when it comes to the sort of medium ticket items you'd expect around Christmas. For instance, two years back when I got my first MP3 player, the wife knew I wanted one well in advance, but didn't know the exact specifications I was looking for. Rather than buying something I might not want, we waited until after Christmas to order it so I could get exactly the one I wanted. (It was a Creative Zen Vision M, a 30 gig model player which is unfortunately no longer made, but is a badass little powerhouse and one of the all time best Christmas gifts I've ever received. Creative has a new Zen model out called the Zen X-Fi that looks not only comparable, but probably a step up.)

This year the wife knew I was in the market for the much heralded chainsaw to finish sawing up the tree Pa and I cut down, as well as all the dead trees laying about in the woods behind us. Again, though, she didn't know what kind, so on Christmas Eve afternoon we bravely fought our way into the mall to have a look for one. You might expect me to be unhappy about not being surprised, but having a choice as to what I get for Christmas is kind of an old tradition in my family. My dad, being a single father for the formative years of my sister and me, didn't always have the patience to pick stuff out on his own. On more than one occasion he took us to a mall, told us to get what we wanted, signed off on our choices and then those gifts vanished until Christmas morning. Sure, there's not as much surprise, but it certainly ramps up the anticipation.

I chose a Craftsman 18" chainsaw. Beyond the massive Christmas discount we got, as it's allegedly a sturdy and well-constructed model that has the added benefit of a user-friendly chain-adjustment dial that seems tailored to a non-woodsman such as myself.

After this, we went to eat Indian food, during which the wife pestered me for hints about her presents. I got her a black pearl pendant which I'd seen her looking at in a store on more than one occasion. I also got her some Paula Deen country-kitchen porcelain cooking bins that are an exact match for a set of similarly-decorated tiny Paula Deen plates the wife bought for herself a month later. (How's that for precognitive gift-choosing?) I gave her her gifts back at home, after supper.

"Recognize the necklace?" I asked.

"No," she said.

I told her it was the one I always saw her looking at. That's when she revealed that she had not been interested in the black pearl necklace, but instead the pair of black pearl earrings beside it.


She still liked her necklace very much, and now I have a nice gift in my sights for our upcoming anniversary.

On Christmas day we awoke to eat Christmas oatmeal and Christmas bacon and let the dog go out for her first Christmas poop. Midway through the morning, we realized that we had none of the ingredients for the tasty cheesecake we had planned to make to take to the in-laws. We also had very little to speak of as far as things for us to prepare for a Christmas lunch of our own. So we ventured out to find all the usual places closed for the day. We wound up having to buy cream cheese, sour cream and graham crackers at a CVS, which makes this the most expensive cheesecake we've ever made. And, naturally, we found lunch at a Chinese takeout place we'd not tried before and were very happy to find it is the most delicious chinese food we've had since we left Charlotte. And just to be politically incorrect about it, and in honor of A Christmas Story, we had no sooner left the place before we both broke into a rousing chorus of "Fa ra ra ra ra, Ra ra ra ra."

Merry Christmahaunnaquanzika to you all.

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