Monday, December 26, 2016

White Christmas

A Christmas morning snowfall.

The snow started on Christmas Eve, just before darkness fell. It wasn't very heavy, only about four inches by morning, but it fell throughout the night and continued until early afternoon on Christmas Day. When I stepped out on the porch around 11:00 that morning to take these pictures, the flakes were huge and gently floating down, down, down. That's my favorite kind of snow.

As it turned out, I didn't spend my entire Christmas morning alone. I went back to bed after driving Mark to work and didn't get up again until about 10:30. Dylan came over around 11:00 to do some laundry while Jake was at work. Then Mark got off work unusually early, just after 11:30, so Dylan went to pick him up and bring him home for me. Sarah and Chris came on over a little after 1:00, and then Jake got here from work about 4:00. By that time, dinner was almost ready!

Thankfully, my family provided plenty of help. After I'd woken up and started getting ready for our Christmas day activities, I noticed my stomach was feeling a little cantankerous. I was slightly nauseous, but not badly enough to worry that I might throw up. It was more like I was bloated and had about two days' worth of undigested meals sitting on top of my stomach. I had eaten a light breakfast, but after it made me more uncomfortable, I was afraid to eat anything else.

Jake, Dylan, and Sarah prepare to enjoy their Christmas dinner.
It was basically a repeat of Thanksgiving, only without the green bean casserole.

I soon discovered that my energy had been drained, as well, but everyone stepped up to make our Christmas dinner happen. I'm OCD enough to require that my dishes all be washed and put away before I start cooking a big meal. There weren't many dishes on the counter, and I'd intended to wash them up before the turkey went into the oven, but I just couldn't find the strength to do it. So Sarah emptied the dish drainer, and then Chris washed up what dishes there were to be washed.

Meanwhile, Dylan had helped me wrestle the 14-lb turkey into its roasting bag and basted it with butter before putting it in the oven for me. Later, Sarah scrubbed the potatoes, which Dylan then cut up to be boiled for mashed potatoes. Mark prepared the stuffing while Sarah heated the buttered corn and got the dinner rolls in the oven. Chris and Dylan pulled out the table, brought in extra chairs, and set out the soda. And Jake arrived just in time to set the table while Mark carved the turkey.

Sarah, Chris and Mark wait patiently to dig in.

While my family slaved away in the kitchen, I spent some time in the recliner with my feet up, hoping I'd start feeling better. And, miraculously, I did. Although I still didn't feel great, I was at least able to get up to mash the potatoes and make the turkey gravy...which came out in completely delicious perfection, if I do say so myself! (I can't always say that about my gravy adventures, unfortunately...) I was even able to enjoy a little dinner without nasty consequences, although I ate far less than I normally would have. It was a wonderful feast, and I am so grateful to my family for bringing it all together.

Sarah and Chris and Dylan and Jake added their family gifts 
to the stacks beneath the tree when they arrived.

And then it was time for opening presents! Jacob had insisted that we must Skype on Christmas day so we could all watch each other open the gifts we'd given to each other. So right after dinner, Dylan brought out my laptop and set it up so we could see each other live, although we actually ended up doing it via Facebook rather than Skype. That worked pretty well.

Dylan set up my laptop to live-stream Jacob and Danielle via Facebook.

Ironically, the first thing Jacob told us was that he and Danielle had already opened the gifts we had sent them, saying, "We just couldn't wait!" So I said, "You go get those presents right now and hold each one up and tell us exactly how much you loved them when you opened them!" And that's what they did.

Chris and Sarah open their gift from Jacob and Danielle while
Jacob and Danielle watch them from their home in Utah.

For Danielle, I sent the little bears you see in the two photos below. I thought they were so adorable that I just had to capture them on film before boxing them up and mailing them. Danielle is a serious reader and has even written a book (although she won't let us read it), and I knew she would adore the bride and groom bears, still being practically a newlywed herself.

For Jacob, I sent a big flash for his new camera and a purple Blue Ridge tee-shirt with our mascot, a yellow jacket, over an American flag on the front, and "Hear the Buzz, Fear the Sting" written across the back.

Bearfoots bears for Danielle's Christmas.

Sarah and Chris sent Jacob a box of sausages and cheeses with a cutting board and knife. They sent Danielle a nail kit, including little gems and things you can add to your manicures.

Dylan and Jake sent Jacob a tripod for his new camera, and they sent Danielle the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Mark sent Jacob a collection of Axe fragrances, and he sent Danielle a book called Fantastic Beasts Magical Movie Handbook and a box of milk chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

After we had opened all our gifts from Jacob and Danielle (noted below with the rest of the gifts), we chatted a little more before we said our good-byes and Merry Christmases and I love yous. After about half an hour together via the Internet, we signed off, and those of us in Arizona began the opening of the remainder of our presents to each other.

Chris and Sarah with their stacks of gifts.

Jake and Dylan with their piles of presents.

Mark with his gaggle of goodies.

Mary with her surplus of surprises.

And, finally, Sarah and Chris with their new gifts.

Jacob and Danielle gave Sarah and Chris the Disney Frozen version of the game Trouble, called "Olaf's in Trouble."

Dylan and Jake gave Sarah a beautiful wolf blanket and a Christmas album by the a cappella group Pentatonix. They gave Chris two games for his Nintendo 3DS: "Olaf's Quest" and "Big Hero 6."

Mark gave Sarah the novel Hollow City (the sequel to Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children, which Sarah read and enjoyed recently). He gave Chris some Bluetooth headphones.

I gave Sarah  a Simply Straight hairbrush hair straightener; a "Tree of Life" pendant set with real amethyst; the book Fantastic Beasts Magical Movie Handbook; and earbuds for her cell phone. I gave Chris a 6-CD set called "100 Country Hits"; a set of Stetson fragrances; a hover ball; and two packages of his favorite candy, Reese's Fast Break. And I gave them each a purple Blue Ridge tee-shirt, just like the one I sent to Jacob.

Jake and Dylan strike a pose with their Christmas haul.

Jacob and Danielle gave Dylan and Jake a Halo Interactive Strategy board game.

Sarah and Chris gave Dylan a DVD of one of his favorite movies, Deadpool. They gave Jake a box of sausages and cheeses with a marble cutting board and knife.

Mark gave Dylan a Rocket Science rocket, capable of flying 50 feet using baking soda and vinegar. He gave Jake a Star Wars Trivia Box game. Jake is very much into Star Wars, like me.

I gave Dylan a Simon Air game; the latest book in his favorite series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid; and a giant bag of peanut M&Ms for his M&Ms dispenser. I gave Jake a Darth Vader perpetual block calendar; and a pair of Star Wars wall prints (one features Han Solo's ship, the Millennium Falcon, and the other Kylo Ren). I gave them each a purple Blue Ridge tee-shirt, just like the one I sent to Jacob. To both of them, I gave a crock pot; a recipe file with about a dozen family recipes already on cards; and two Star Wars bath towels. Prior to Christmas, I also gave them an Artoo-Detoo (R2-D2) waste basket and a stormtrooper toothbrush holder to match their Star Wars shower curtain, so their bathroom is pretty much Star Wars-ready!

On the morning after Christmas, I cleaned up the living room and
arranged all of Mark's and my opened presents back under the tree.

Mark's gifts.

Jacob and Danielle gave Mark a model kit to build a replica of the General Lee, the car driven by the Duke cousins in the old TV show, The Dukes of Hazard (one of Mark's old favorites).

Sarah and Chris gave Mark a box of sausages and cheeses with a cutting board and knife.

Dylan and Jake gave Mark a kit to build a birdhouse with wind chimes.

I gave Mark a VR (virtual reality) headset; a Nerf-type rifle that fires discs and darts at plastic cans; a 3D crystal puzzle of a lion; a box of chocolate-covered cherries (his favorite); and a purple Blue Ridge tee-shirt, just like the one I sent to Jacob. 

My gifts, although the Wet Head game is actually a family gift from Santa.

As for me, I was spoiled this year. Jacob and Danielle sent me a plate featuring a picture of our family from our trip to Southern California in October. I'll treasure it forever.

Sarah and Chris gave me the DVD of the new film version of my beloved stage play Saturday's Warrior, which I've been wanting ever since it came out.

Dylan and Jake gave me a $25 gift card to the local theater (they know how much I love going to the cinema!) and a huge glossy book, Inside the Magic: the Making of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Can you tell we all loved that film?

As for Mark, he went all out. He gave me a small replica of the famous statue of Jesus Christ found in so many LDS Visitor Centers, called the Christus; a beautiful pair of snowflake earrings that I look forward to wearing; and the Willow Tree figurine called "Je T'aime," meaning "I Love You" in French. It's beautiful.

Oh, and the little handmade soap with the red ribbon was a gift from Gwen Green, our English department chair. It smells of cloves...mmmm.

A closeup of the plate from Jacob and Danielle: mi familia.
And the great blessings of family make Christmas so delightful!

We ended the evening by watching a movie together. By the time we were done, it was getting late and everyone had to work the next morning (except me). So we resolved to try out our new games next Sunday at family dinner and then I stood at the door and watched my kids drive away in the snow. It was truly a merry Christmas.

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