A Different Kind Of Christmas

31 December 2011 in Memories, Traveling

This was our first Christmas spent outside of Wisconsin and for that matter southern Wisconsin. And going one step further outside of a few counties and a handful of small towns which contained a short list of warm and inviting homes filled with the loved ones we for some reason so rarely see. This year there was no running from house to house, family to family in an attempt to visit with and give equal time to all and neglect none. With five celebrations per year to cover in the span of less than twenty four hours this was often a tricky matter and one of some complaints, but we simply could not bring ourselves to miss any of them. But this year there would be no running around. This year there would be no Christmas Eve split between Lindsay’s mom’s house and my mom’s house. There would be no dinner spent with my grama, no bottomless glasses of my stepdad’s homemade wine, and no euchre game before my parents retired. There would also be no plentiful spreads of delicious cheese and crackers eaten while visiting with Lindsay’s folks. Mmmm cranberry cheese. We would not spend the night back at my mom’s flipping between several Christmas movies obviously favoring of A Christmas Story while enjoying one last glass of brandy before retiring to our respective couches. In the morning there would be no drive out to my stepdad’s mom’s farm for an early bloody mary and more snacks for our already bulging stomaches. After many laughs there would be no trips to our dad’s, no more snacks, no more drinks, and no more fun.

There’s just no such thing as a real Christmas without family. It’s strange for the last ten year’s this has been our routine. And before that many of these routines we followed apart before we began dating. I can’t remember a Christmas in which I didn’t see my mom or dad. And I can only remember a few where I didn’t go out to my stepdad’s mom’s farm. Christmas is more about tradition than any other holiday or occasion in our lives. And this tradition becomes a part of us and each year these repetitious acts pile up and begin to blur into one. I can remember very few gifts and very few years with any distinction, but I remember every Christmas as a whole with fond thoughts warm houses, welcoming loved ones, and the simple joy of these yearly gatherings.

But as I stated this year would be different from the rest. An outlier which will standout in our memories amongst the others. We attempted to recreate the small things that would remind us of home, but despite our efforts the key element of family was still missing. To start we hung a few tiny stockings and cut a cluster of snowflakes for our back window. As presents arrived at the Post Office we respectfully staked them in our storage shed, waiting until it was officially Christmas Day before we opened them. Next we constructed a small tree that we are quite proud of and plan to reproduce for future holidays. In the debate of “fake” vs. “real” there is now a new contender “make”. We took a small piece of cardboard, folded it into a long triangle and taped it. Next we gathered a fallen pine branch and began cutting small branches from it. With a nail I poked rows of holes around the cardboard and Lindsay inserted the ends of the small branches. Working our way up we spaced the rows about an inch apart and inserted progressively smaller branches as we went up. On the top we stuck a few large clusters of branches in the opening of the triangle and with a little trimming here and there we had our tree. We then made a string of lights with thread, paper, scissors, and markers stringing it and a strand of beads Lindsay had laying around on the tree. With a paper star on top we had the best Christmas tree ever.

With decorations in order our next task was food and entertainment. After finding a small health food store in Crescent City we had recently purchased a fresh stock of sushi rice and a Tofurky. So we decided on Christmas Eve we’d have avocado and carrot sushi, on Christmas Day we’d have Tofurky and mashed potatoes, and then for Christmas dinner—my favorite—Tofurky sandwiches with lots of Veganaise. But equally important were the snacks and drinks which we decided would be a nice habanero cheese with crackers, fried guacamole balls, and a plentiful supply of wine including a box of merlot and a bottle of homemade apple wine made by our friend Shuppe’s dad which we had saved for years. For entertainment #1 on the list was a Christmas movie and the best Christmas movie of all time, hands down is A Christmas Story. Lindsay and I have watched this movie every single Christmas that we can remember and to us it never gets old. We’ve probably watched it a hundred times at least. So we decided why not watch it twenty more. We declared the Christmas of 2011 the first annual A Christmas Story 24 hour marathon. We would deny ourselves sleep and test our sanity.

So with everything in order we counted down the days and finally Christmas Eve arrived. At five in the evening we began to make sushi and while we made it we leisurely munched on cheese and crackers. At ten after six, with our sushi all made and our wine jars full we began our movie marathon. The first viewing brought back fond memories of holidays past, but it was strange to see the movie in order. Several years back TBS started playing the movie on a 24 hour rotation (part of our inspiration) so we had grown used to starting somewhere in the middle of the film and watching segments of it here and there, scattered throughout Christmas Eve and Day. This was the first time in a long while we had seen it from opening to closing credits. The second viewing gave us a strange sense of deja vu…hmmm. Upon the opening of the third viewing I was beginning to question whether this was such a good idea, but we had stated as long as the movie was playing we could do whatever we wanted besides sleeping. Deciding it was way too early for distractions we developed a trivia game based on the movie. This was in addition to a drinking game I neglected to mention in which shots were taken during the end credits and a drink was taken each time the oft repeated line “you’ll shoot you’re eye out” was said. The trivia game was based on questions Lindsay and I privately wrote while the third viewing played. At the start of the fourth viewing we began to rattle off questions such as “What does Ralphie’s dad say when the furnace acts up?” and “What is Mrs. Shields writing on the board in the first classroom scene?”. We had so much fun doing this the first time we repeated it with new questions for the next viewing which brought us to midnight.

Like children we had had a hard time keeping our eager hands off of our little pile of gifts all week so we agreed that at midnight on Christmas Eve (or I guess technically Christmas Day) we’d open gifts. So one by one we opened our gifts. My mom had called earlier in the day and requested we open her gift while we were on the phone. She gave us a very generous amount of money and a laptop bag which was a very cleaver gift after watching us carry our new computer in the box and in a backpack during her visit a couple months earlier. Thanks mom! Back to midnight. First we opened the unexpected, but greatly appreciated gifts from Lindsay’s Aunt Jennifer and Uncle Jeffery. They got us each awesome winter hats. It can be really, really hard to give clothing items as gifts, but they hit it out of the park. We wore them the rest of the night and almost everyday since. Thanks you two! Next we opened two gifts from my dad. The first we knew through shaking and squeezing would be chocolates. The next was a textbook example of an ongoing game my dad and I play. Each holiday or birthday we mess with one another by wrapping gifts in increasingly difficult packaging such as a full roll of duct tape or hide money or gift cards in unlikely and sometimes overlooked places like repackaging a pack of t-shirts after putting cash inside. This christmas I must have went through a dozen boxes each wrapped and placed within one another. Eventually after opening a tiny box about the size of a pack of gum I found a thin plastic tube no thicker than a pen. Inside was a fifty dollar bill and at both ends the tube was plugged with pieces of plastic. I couldn’t get these pieces out so I carefully cut one end off of the tube with my pocket knife. Thanks dad! The last gift we opened was a nine pound box from Lindsay’s dad. Within we found peanuts, chocolate covered raisins, trail mix, noodle packets, candles, two jars of spices, PJs for Lindsay, and an amazing set of LED flashlights including two headlamps which we had wanted ever since first seeing them in the Canyon. Thanks Roger/Dad and Linda!

All the while A Christmas Story played on and we were soon back to spiraling into insanity. A little after one in the morning we made our late night snack of fried guacamole balls. Wine and grease filled stomachs soon challenged our tiring eyes. First Lindsay went down. Then after another viewing or two I was out, but through the early morning hours I consistently awoke to restart the movie and after a few quick naps as the sun began to slowly lighten the sky I was back up greeting Christmas morning by watching Ralphie’s quest for a Red Rider BB gun for the ninth or tenth time. And soon Lindsay rejoined me. Eventually we made biscuits for breakfast, had our Tofurky for lunch, and Tofurky sandwiches for dinner. All in all I think we watched the movie sixteen times, twelve of which we were conscious and paying attention. And I think it did have any affect on our psyche because we debated driving into Gasquet and renting it again. I actually think we developed a mild addiction I was sad to see it expire on iTunes and I really would have watched it the rest of the night.

So we made the best of our holiday. Certainly the best we could without family. And I think we developed some fun, new Christmas memories and maybe experienced what might be the beginning of a new tradition.

31 December 2011 Memories, Traveling

1 Comment to A Different Kind Of Christmas

  1. Your welcome. I am glad you enjoyed your hats. I was going to get you bear repellant, but thought the hats were funner. 🙂

  2. Jennifer Peronto on 2 January 2012

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