That Time of Year

January 1, 2015

363 Days until next Christmas. How did I hold out so long last year? It just seems so far away now. This year was purely magical. It was also stressful and expensive and stressful, but that seems to be unavoidable. I’m not sure what I would change. I think the only thing that would make it better is that if I’m self-employed next year. Then I’d take a whole month off to prepare and celebrate Christmas. Self-employed might not cover it, but rich might. Anyone looking to donate to a Christmas enthusiast? 

Christmas. It doesn’t start in December any more. I saw Christmas decorations out after Halloween. That is a little crazy if you ask me. Who is putting up lights the beginning of November? I believe the standard is to wait until after Thanksgiving. Give Thanksgiving it’s moment. Thanksgiving is my boyfriend’s favorite holiday. Only because there is a feast without any additional obligations. It’s a stress free tradition for him. However, I’m sure whoever is hosting doesn’t see it that way. This year I bent the rules just a little and decorated right before I left home for Thanksgiving. That way all the decor was up and ready when I got back. As if Christmas cheer was waiting for me. I also started my Christmas shopping in November. Nothing worse than putting off shopping and online shopping is the true savior of Christmas. 

There were certain activities that coincide with Christmas and I planned on doing them all. After the house was decorated the next thing it needed was a tree. It only took me 15 minutes this year to pick out the perfect one. When the roof is 6ft tall it really limits the options and speeds up the process, “I’ll take a hobbit sized tree please.” A Christmas tree really brightens up a room, don’t you think? Have you ever walked into a room with a shiny Christmas tree and thought this room would look better without it? Well maybe come March. We got the tree up right before my mom came to visit for the weekend. Now my Christmas addiction is genetic so when my mom is in town we had a itinerary of Christmas ventures. First up was Cirque Du Soliel. This doesn’t have a Christmas theme, but for the last 2 years I have gone with my mom and my boyrfriend, Gabe, as her Christmas present to us. This year we saw Kurios, which was magical. I think that is why it feels like a Christmas tradition because Christmas is all kinds of magic. 

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Next up was the Charles Dickens Fair. My mom and I stumbled onto this fair last year, but were not prepared for the overwhelming nature of it. This year we were ready. My mom had bought us matching dresses and designed jackets and bustles to wear. She, of course, finished it all the day of the event, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. She even finished my sister’s wedding dress hours before the wedding. That lady lives on procrastination adrenaline. We showed up to the event feeling good and looking great. Then we noticed our version of Victorian fashion was not the same as everyone else’s. Always one decade behind. Hoop skirts were all the rage. Well hoop skirts and cleavage. I had neither. We still had a great time walking around checking out the many victorian venders brought back from the dead. There were pewter and wood beer steins, hand crafted leather masks, apothecaries, emporiums, puppets, top hats, underpinnings, corsets, candles, and everything else you would have found in the London markets almost 200 years ago. After cruising all the shops we watched parlor girls perform a few songs then we finished off the night eating roasted chestnuts, which tasted a lot like potatoes. Just as we felt like we had completely embraced this little time warp my mom chats up some young chap telling him about how this was our second year and were excited to dress up. This sewer rat tells my mom, “Now that you see what you are supposed to wear you’ll fit in more next time.” What a Dick(ens). Just cause we weren’t in hoop skirts didn’t mean that we didn’t fit the era. Maybe we were a little off. Our dresses were a cross between burlesque dancer and a parlor girl, but don’t we get credit for trying. And we still looked awesome. Forget that scoundrel. Some people take this all too seriously anyways. Next year we will have it down. Maybe we will even work on our accents. Cheerio. Happy Christmas! After the Dickens Fair we went to a party from a work friend. Yep in our costumes. I think at first people thought that is how we normally go out. It’s San Francisco so you never know. Gabe met us at the party and we did our best to mingle. Gabe is better at that. I ended up just flocking to the people I know. It didn’t take long before my mom looked way too comfy on the couch. Off to bed youngins. 

Next on the Christmas list. Yes I was making a list… and checking it twice. I decided to make a few gifts this year. Just like every year I end up regretting it. First regret was a marquee sign for my sister. I bought paper mache letters to spell out DREAM. However, Joann’s was missing E(s) so I had to have my mom buy it for me because they don’t have a Joann’s in Berkeley. I then poked all the holes for the lights and spray painted the letters. Then I put the lights in each letter. It was all time consuming and worth it up to that point. I got up to DR before I decided to plug the lights in again to check out how awesome it looked. Awesome it did not look said Yoda. Half the light strand had gone out. The first half of course. I then took out all the lights and checked each bulb in the broken strand to see if I could resurrect the Christmas lights. For some reason the movie “Christmas Vacation” came to my mind. Luckily, I had another IMG_6535.JPG IMG_6617.JPG IMG_6621.JPG IMG_6616.JPG IMG_6624.JPG IMG_6601.JPG IMG_6615-0.JPG IMG_6588.JPG IMG_6606.JPG IMG_6604.JPG IMG_6591.JPG IMG_6567.JPG IMG_0305 IMG_6560.JPG IMG_6580.JPG IMG_6581.JPG IMG_6582.JPG IMG_6615.JPG IMG_6587.JPG IMG_6552.JPG IMG_6541.JPG IMG_6544.JPG IMG_6540.JPG IMG_6528.JPG IMG_6531.JPGback up strand because that whole check each bulb thing was a waste of time just like in the movie. I continued my project until I got to, well, E. E happened to be back in Redding. I had to finish the project when I went back home for the holidays. So when I finally spray painted that E and got all the way to DREA when I realized that I didn’t have enough lights to finish the M. I was 8 bulbs short in my strand. I really should have counted the bulbs before I made the holes. I had to buy another strand for 8 bulbs. 8 BULBS!!!

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Minus 8 bulbs

Back to Joann’s I went only to see Valentine’s Day presents had taken over and they were completely out of the lights I needed. So was Michaels, Target, and even dreaded Walmart. Why do I do this to myself? Next year I want to be so rich I can pay someone else to make anything DIY. I guess it would be DIT (did it themselves). I’m gonna check how much marquees are going for on Etsy. Wait right there…. Well, well, well Etsy. $785. Ok I’m done complaining. I asked my dad if he could use wire cutters and take out the half of the strands that didn’t work on the broken lights I had. Voila. Good ole dad. I put it all together and it looked great and I will never do that again. That was just one of the 6 hand made gifts I made… but that one was the only nightmare before Christmas…. get it? See it’s a double pun. The sign says DREAM and “Nightmare Before Christmas” was a movie. I knew you got it. 

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is make Christmas cards. It all started one year when my sis and I decided to make one to send out to our friends. Since then I love coming up with creative photo ideas and seeing our friends’ and families’ reaction. This year Gabe and I brainstormed one evening until we figured out exactly what we were going to do. Then we set a date for our photoshoot and produced awesomeness. This year we went with a social media theme. I think we are starting to get a reputation. Not sure if it’s a naughty or nice one.  

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Another tradition Gabe and I started a few years back is going to “Not So Silent Night” (NSSN) music festival. Since our anniversary is in December we make it a mutual gift. The concert is always so much fun. This year the line up was Vance Joy, Cage the Elephant, Spoon, Alt-J, Imagine Dragons, Interpol. We were really surprised by Cage the Elephant. Classic rock stars. I can’t wait for next year. Here’s a little playlist for you. 


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My last week of work I made some “coal” for the kids I coach. It’s rice crispy treats dyed black. Gives them a nice evil tongue that I’m sure their parents enjoyed. The day before I left my coworker and I did our best to dress up. I had a real elf costume, but he was second best. 

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Last Christmas item on the list is to make sweet treats for our family before we head home for the holidays. Last year we spent the day in San Francisco and came home in the evening to make all our treats and we were up till 4am and had 2 hours of sleep before driving 3 hours to for the holiday. This year I had work at 8am and had a 7 hour break before I went back to work. Gabe was going to meet me in the city to walk around and see the Christmas sites. However, there was a massive rain storm in the afternoon so I let Gabe off the hook and walked the city solo. It was a good thing he did because he cleaned and cooked all day and when I got home we still were up till 3am baking cookies. We even decided to do 3 treats instead of 4. Making cookies used to be my favorite holiday tradition and it just got bumped down on the list. The chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter reindeer, and s’more cake pops were a hit. So good I didn’t get to have any. We also made candy cane vodka and almond butter. Yeah we are awesome.  

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We got 4 hours of sleep and left around 7:30am because I had an eyebrow appointment at 10:45am. We arrived right on time. I don’t know how Gabe does it. We then had 2 hours before Gabe’s family Christmas party. Nap time. I love the difference between Gabe’s family Christmas and mine. For one Gabe’s family serves alcohol. Second they serve alcohol. I’m not a drunkard, but nothing takes the holiday edge off like a spiked punch. I am really lucky that I dated my way into an amazing family. I had to fight my boss to get work off in order to spend the holidays with them, but no job is worth missing the holidays. I don’t know how some people can work through Christmas. I learned recently that I’m not motivated by money, but by freedom. I want a job that I’m free to make my own schedule or rules. I should really look into being self-employed again.

His family drinks and snacks all morning and present opening happens close to 4pm. This is the first year there was chili instead of the traditional minestrone soup that his grandma makes but no one likes. Yes. Chili is the Christmas dinner. I love this family. We gave our silly cards and our treats, which were well received. At least the cookies were. Some people weren’t familiar enough with social media to get the card. Win some. Lose some. #yolo. Now Gabe claims that my family has more drama during the holidays. I tend to agree, but he has an unfair advantage with everyone in his family having a nice buzz to calm them. Well one girl didn’t have a buzz, but a full on meltdown at the end of the night. She went “Carrie”. His grandma tried to calm her down and the girl yelled back a profanity that would have given my grandma a heart attack. I would have slapped myself in the face for what she said. So Gabe’s family won that Christmas drama award. That was minus the weird “be an adult” lecture he got from his mom and sis. Drama, drama, drama. That was all small to the amount of fun we had though. So far so good. After we celebrated Christmas with Gabe’s family we still had 2 more Christmases to go. Well 3 if you count my Christmas party. 

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The next day was Gabe’s immediate family’s Christmas. His mom buys small gifts that fit in a stocking. It’s all super cute. Afterwards we watched “The Hobbit” and saw Christmas lights. Only one of them was worth the 2 hours. What is it about Christmas lights that are so magical? Next year I am going to get my family a Limo Christmas light tour. I came up with the idea a little too late this year and everyone was completely booked. 

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The next day we had a Christmas pajama party. It was a little crazy. There was a big debate between the Brown girls if it was even gonna happen. We all like to pretend that we are doing the most work and everyone else is lazy. However, we all went to our tasks and I think it went great. The food was amazing: bacon wrapped chicken, sugar cookies, bean dip, brie dip, bacon wrapped dates, peppermint muddy buddies, hot chocolate, apple cider, and other sweetness. We later played “HeadsUp”. I think some people were a little disappointed that they didn’t have the most friends in attendance… My mom was the social butterfly of the evening and she reminded us numerous times how popular she was. I think it will become and annual tradition. 

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The next day was my 4th year anniversary with Gabe. We were both busy in the morning and decided to convene around noon for a hike to the snow. I was with my mom and sister visiting a friend who sells clothes from home. Lularoe. Check it. After picking out some awesome tights I started to get the sweats. Not the kind you wear. Like uh oh, why is it so hot in here? It took another 15 minutes before I was in her yard puking last night’s feast. Too many sweets not enough green smoothie. I then spent my 4th year anniversary in bed eating soup and crackers with occasional visits from my guy. Very romantic. I don’t think I threw up again, but was happy to lay low for the rest of the day. Luckily, I had finished all my Christmas shopping.

Low and behold Christmas Eve rolls around and Gabe hasn’t finished his shopping. Boys. What’s with them and waiting till the last minute? As we drive around town like all the other idiots on Christmas Eve we spotted a lady with a sign looking for money for gas. We were given $200 from my parents to give away before Christmas. I so far had given $100. One guy I gave money to was in SF dressed as a dog with 3 dogs with him. He wanted me to take a picture with him even though he didn’t have a camera, but asked someone near by to take one with mine. He was so sweet.

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We then swung the car around and approached her and her cat. We gave her some money and said Merry Christmas. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gabe so impacted. This lady had a one-eyed cat she was caring for and her motorhome didn’t have any propane. She was so thankful that it was heartbreaking. Why do we wait till the holidays to try to be generous? I told my parents that next year we will match whatever they wanted us to donate. I have amazing parents. Gabe’s family also has each person pick a non-profit organization to donate money to for Christmas. 

Christmas Eve. My family has this tradition that is Gabe’s favorite. Every Christmas present tag is individual written to fit the person giving and getting. For example, To: Michael Jackson, From: Cat Woman. Gabe was Michael for Halloween and I was Cat Woman. Now not everyone will always get the reference, but the person receiving it usually does and that is all the matters. They are always goofy and silly, but sometimes they take forever to think of so don’t wait till the last night for all of them. It’s best to write them as you wrap. Gabe and I have started saving our tags to put in a scrap book. Some are just too funny to forget about. This year my dad’s were the most clever. Maybe I should save those instead. Omg. I’m saving them all next year and putting them in a bowl for us to read out later. Thank you blogging out loud. 

Christmas. Every year my dad makes eggs Benedict. His family did it and now we do it. However, he has been complaining for the past 9 years about how much work it is and how you are too full to really enjoy the Christmas dinner later. Therefore, I volunteered to make breakfast this year. I told them it would be a simple European breakfast and that no one could complain. My sister didn’t get the memo. There was fruit salad, deli meat, cheese, and some orange juice. It was simple, classy, and left plenty of room for dinner. Afterwards, my sis volunteered to host breakfast next year. I winked at my dad. Oh she fell right into that trap. 

Not much else to say about Christmas. We ate, we opened, we slept, we saw a movie. The best part of Christmas is all the four play. I take it back. My pie. I made homemade pumpkin pie. All homemade. Crust. Pumpkin puree. Scratchiest of all homemade. It was delicious. Everyone said it was the best pumpkin pie they ever had. Secret? Candied yams…. damnit they weren’t homemade. Another awesome part of Christmas is the look on everyone’s face when they open presents. This year I made a lot of them and I was excited for my dad’s, sisters, and Gabe’s. My mom was fine with all paid purchases cause she got her made ones previous years. For my dad I made a collage in a shadow box frame of pictures of his dad along with dog tags and a Johnny Carson ticket stub. It took a lot of work to find and I think he really enjoyed it. Not as many tears as I was hoping for, but next year I’ll get him. My sister was that damn marquee. Gabe I made a little card deck of 140 things I loved about him for each day he would be gone in Italy. I also got leather luggage tags made for his suitcase. I love Christmas so much and I hate it when it’s over. Christmas is really the best time of year. I wish I had some none cliche thing to add to finish this post, but I don’t. Christmas is f*cking awesome. The End. 


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