BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Ho ... Ho ... Ho ...

So, you were waiting breathlessly to find out how our Xmas went, weren't you?

Well, The Wife lucked out in that a lady from her office had some extra off days coming up (more than she could use) and worked out a deal where she could pass them along to her, letting The Wife be home all week. Monday morning we took The Girls down to Marshall Fields's on State St. to see Santa. I think it was a pretty good call, getting there right when the store opened, as we were only in line like 15 minutes. This is the latest we've gotten down there for that, but our schedules are "more complex" than they used to be, so we weren't able to shoot down there right after Daughter #1's birthday (as had been our habit). We ended up buying one 5x7 print of The Girls with Santa for $11.95 ... ouch! This is also the first year we didn't buy a "package" to send out to the relatives (for the "ouch" factor), hopefully one of my shots will be worth copying. We went over to the Xmas market at the Daley Center but The Girls were being pissy and wanted to go home, so we only got to see about 1/4 of it. I spent much of the evening trying to get the train set put up around the tree. The Wife had gotten the train last year as an "upgrade" from the Walgreens version I'd previously had, but it still suffered from the "small kids" and "unruly cat" factors, meaning that I was constantly having to get down under the tree to either fix the track or the inevitatble (in a world occupied by aggressive 3-year-olds) de-railments.

I'd been putting off and putting off and putting off getting present wrapping done, a side effect of not feeling "done" with shopping until Tuesday. I took Daugther #1 up to a birthday party on Sunday morning and then dragged her along on a 5-store whirlwind "we still need to find some more stuff for mommy" shopping run (which netted two cobalt blue 10" spherical vases). This year The Wife and I did a lot of buying stuff that we needed/wanted and handing it over to the other as Xmas stuff (I got 4 shirts that I bought on sale last month this way, as well as a big vinyl Bears pennant that I'd grabbed at the dollar store at one point). She'd gotten two pendants that she'd liked at an art fair this fall, and when I got into those (planning out wrapping strategies) I realized that she might not have an appropriate chain/necklace for them, so I dragged Daughter #1 out again on Tuesday to get that. I also "recycled" a gift from a year or two back ... The Wife and I had picked up the AT&T "Free2Go" cell phone packs at 7-11 back then and, while I've used mine at pretty much the 80min/6wks rate that $25 will buy you, The Wife hadn't, and her original cell number had gone back "into the hopper", so I needed to walk through getting a new number for her and setting that up. I'd fallen asleep about 9 that night watching TV, and woke up at 4am, and got into the wrapping process, which I got pretty much done by 8am on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, we had agreed to go over to my Mom's for brunch ... largely so that my Mom could give The Girls their presents from her without the "static" of all the other gifts getting in the way of her "getting credit" for the specific things that she was giving them in The Girls' minds (I know that sounds bad, but it really is how my Mom thinks). We got back home by 1pm, giving us a mere 3 hours to get ready for Xmas Eve, as folks (in this case just my Mom and The Wife's local nephew) were coming by at 4. I ducked out for some last minute errands (as well as adding an Einsteins Bagles holiday gift pack to the mix of stuff for my Mom). After kicking around some other concepts, we fell back on this Paella recipe that we've used frequently, and did a relatively simple dinner around that. The Girls got to open prizes that their cousin brought, and we gave my Mom most of her goodies, and everybody was home by 9pm (well, I was back a bit later, after I pushed my Mom {wheelchair} back to her place, I swung up to Wallgreens to pick up some hour-developing film that I'd dropped by in the morning).

santa2We lucked out in that The Girls both passed out early, so The Wife was able to "load the tree" with their gifts from us and "Santa" while I was still out. The "luck" factor was that Daughter #1, who is now 8, was making noises about wanting to wait up for Santa, or to sleep out in the living room to see him when he got there! She wrote a note asking Santa to draw a picture of himself (and #2 had me write a note assuring him that she'd been good!), and hung that on the tree. Over the past couple of years, I've penned a note "from Santa" thanking The Girls for the milk and cookies (and carrots for the reindeer, if they remember to put those out) ... since 90% of what I write is via keyboard (and the other 10% is in a ALL CAPS scrawl), nobody ever sees my cursive writing, which makes it pretty easy to "be Santa". Instead of drawing a picture, though, I grabbed this Santa pic from the web, added the text, and printed out a couple of approximately 5x7 copies on nice glossy photo paper ... and put in the note something saying that Mrs. Claus had recently had pictures done, and that he'd leave a couple of copies!

I got done with that right about Midnight, which was good, as both of The Girls got up a bit after 1:00am and were out in the living room looking for Santa. Of course, at that point all was ready for them, so we let them get into their stockings and open a couple of packages before insisting everybody head back off to bed. The unwrapping resumed around 7:30am, which, given their habit of being up at 5:30am on birthdays, etc., was a positively reasonable hour.

So, we got through all the "from us to us" presents this morning, and I, naturally, spent most of the day with scisscors, screwdrivers, batteries, and low curses getting the various "Barbie packaged" things extracted from their hermetic seals and into playable states. In the interest of blowing of some steam from the 3-year-old, The Wife sent me and Daughter #2 off to the playground over by the Water Tower (while still cognitively "in the neighborhood", it's a good 8-block walk over there) in the early afternoon. We were the only people there, so after about a half hour on the swings and slides and such, she was ready to head back home (repeat 8-block walk).

After a quick look at e-mail and the web (I still have some eBay things up in the air), I jumped into the shower and was just ready when our guests (again, local nephew and my Mom) arrived at 4pm. The wife had "reloaded the tree" with stuff from her sister's family (who'd also sent along stuff for our nephew), and so he and The Girls had another unwrapping fest getting into that stuff. Tonight's dinner was more formal, The Wife having decided to venture a standing rib roast, preceeded by smoked trout. I was hesitant on the roast (we've had some disasters with big cuts of beef in the past), but this turned out spectacularly, and I (after having run off to Ask Jeeves for last-minute training on how to properly carve a standing rib roast) managed to produce nice even serviings. Dinner ended with a Bouche de Noel cake, a few last minute packages getting opened, and everybody once again being out of here by 8:30.

mirrorHuh? What's that? Oh, what did I get for Xmas? Well, there were those shirts ... and various relatives sent us some nice Lettuce Entertain You (a local restaurant chain) gift certificates, but my main "prize" this time was this "Celtic Scrying Mirror" which I'd suggested to The Wife. I aslo scored some beef jerkey and Goetz's Caramel Cremes, and a gift card from B&N so I can get a couple of new CDs.

So, there you have it ... Too damn Much Information, I'm sure. Ho, Ho, Ho, and all that!

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