Y’ALL! (Or ‘YOUSE GUYS’ for my Philly readers!) Can I tell you about Christmas? Because Christmas was fantastic! I mean, literally the last week or so has just been so good that I want to cry over how happy and content my life is. Save for a few snags that we had in the middle of last week, our holiday went over so smoothly that I almost couldn’t believe it was Christmas. Forgive me, because this entry might be long and tedious but I want to remember every moment when I go back and read over it.
And sadly, I have like no pictures. There are a few floating around, probably on my mom’s or Steve’s phone but I don’t have the gumption to track them down right now. Guess I can chalk it up to either having too much fun or being too busy to pick up a camera. All of it relative to what time of day we’re talking about.
Festivities kick off Thursday night when we join a friend from work at a party for a friends of hers company downtown. It’s at a hotel that provides the perfect nightime view of the city skyline. You know, that place, every city has a place like that. We know very few people at the party (we were there basically filling seats) so we mostly stick to ourselves and eat the delicious food (good down home country cooking buffett) and drink the booze.
Friday morning, I remember why I don’t drink wine on weeknights anymore. It is not awful but it is not good either. I manage to chug enough caffeine to get myself moving only to get into work and realize I have to give blood that morning. More on that to follow but needless to say, giving blood while coming out of a hangover probably isn’t the greatest idea I’ve had in awhile.
Spend the rest of Friday at work closing up shop for the three day weekend – a few troubleshooting things here and there and some paperwork. I intend to leave at noon and have a half day but it works out that I actually start to leave after 3pm and get home closer to 4pm once I walk through and wish everyone ‘Merry Christmas!’ Arrive home to find Steve in his usual spot in front of the XBox. He is overjoyed to see me, mostly because this means Christmas kicks off and also because he cannot get on XBox Live.
Change my clothes then do quick a reboot of the modem and router and voila, he was able to sign in. I head to the bedroom to start getting ready to go out for dinner because we are meeting some friends around seven. Instead, I lay in bed for an hour as the exhaustion of giving blood sets in and get up just in time to make myself semi-presentable for our evening out.
The dinner is intended as our core friend group Christmas celebration and it’s at a new local restaurant that has replaced a mediocre establishment we’ve been to quite a few times before. Expectations aren’t that high and you can feel the wariness rise when we enter and see a giant steer in the lobby. Reviews online have been favorable, however, and I’m kind of digging the whole western-sports bar vibe they’ve got going on.
There are nine of us and we are seated at a long table so of course, we only really get to interact with the people sitting directly around us. This is fine as everyone gets along favorably. At this point, we are just hungry. I have a Groupon that I bought earlier in the week that affords us one appetizer, two entrees and two drinks so we get chips and queso and both of us order a 22-oz ribeye, thinking we can just bring the leftovers home. Everything is actually really, really good! The queso is delicious and the steak is huge and cooked beautifully. I end up finishing maybe a quarter of mine so we pack up the leftovers realizing we probably could have survived with one steak but knowing we had already paid for it, it wasn’t a big deal. Steve will use it to make sandwiches through the weekend.
Spend another standing out front of the restaurant shooting the shit with the friends. Wish everyone a Merry Christmas and wonder if we should stop at the store for last minute supplies. Decide not to and head home where we retire to the bedroom and fall asleep watching Miracle on 34th Street.
Wake up Saturday morning and as usual, Steve has been up for awhile. I start picking the house up and making sure the kitchen is clean and ready to cook later that night while Steve makes himself a steak sandwich for breakfast (leftovers!). Once he’s done eating, he grabs the list I have made for last minute supplies and heads out to the store. I continue to pick up and start the early prep for dinner. He arrives home and I’ve got the turkey in the slow cooker. He got everything I need plus some secret supplies for my Christmas Eve present, which he hides in the freezer.
Most of the food doesn’t have to cook until later in the afternoon, so we laze around for a bit until we finally decide to open our Christmas Eve presents. Normally, it’s just me giving us each a new pair of pajama pants. This year, Steve has another gift for me, one that needs to be opened on Christmas Eve so it can be used for Christmas. I make him open mine first, which is an empty gallon jug with an ATV I painted on the front – an ATV FUND (basically, a jar where he can save his money to buy ATV’s like he wants to do this year). I open my present which is AN AWESOME ICE CREAM MAKER! This is something I never knew I wanted until I had it. This is something that Steve took upon himself to think I would love and I do, because we eat a lot of ice cream in this house. I am surprised and grinning from ear to ear. And we immediately take the bowl out so it can be put in the freezer to freeze – this is why I had to open it on Christmas Eve. And the supplies for making ice cream are the secret in the refrigerator.
We continue to open our pajama pants gifts – Steve’s end up being too long on him since he has short legs but he is ok with this. I got both pairs of pants from Old Navy instead of Target this year and I find them infinitely more comfortable – the material is just light enough to not be hot but heavy enough to feel thin and cheap. We both immediately put the pajamas on, not caring that we have people coming over later for dinner, mostly because we have already warned these people that part of our tradition is to spend Christmas Eve in our pajamas.
Our friends arrive to have dinner with us – they come bearing gifts – a mini pie maker for me that will go perfectly with the ice cream maker and a remote controlled ATV that Steve immediately opens up and proceeds to scare the ever living shit out of our dogs. Merry Christmas Baxter and Sammy!
Dinner gets started late, mostly because I kick it off late and mostly because we spend more time socializing when we should be cooking. I talk to my sister-in-law on the phone for a bit just as dinner is finishing up. On the menu is a 10-lb turkey in the slow cooker (best method ever to cook a turkey – it’s completely hands off and it comes out amazingly juicy and moist with so much flavor), creamy mashed potatoes, Stovetop stuffing, broccoli-cheese casserole, corn and biscuits. Our friends have brought over cheese and crackers and fudge so we snack on that. Finally sit down to dinner and it is delicious! Of course, as usual, you do all that cooking and it’s over before you realize it.
No big deal because we proceed with the next part of the plan, which is drink wine and watch movies. It was supposed to be Christmas movies but it ended up being the Always Sunny in Philadelphia Christmas special, In Time (which I was actually really impressed with). By this time, my girlfriend and I had killed a bottle of wine. This was because Steve had another last minute present he’d picked up as a joke and when I mentioned I would be drinking wine, he had to give it to me.
It was an electronic breathalyzer. This is hysterical to me because now, since we’re drinking wine, it’s like a contest. I don’t really know what we were shooting for – obviously, we weren’t going to go overboard. But testing to see what we blew after each glass sure made the consumption of wine even more fun than usual.
The night progressed and we stuffed the stockings and our friends decided to go home. I decide I have to watch Elf because it is Christmas Eve after all. Steve falls asleep as I surf the Internet, tweet and Facebook and then we finally head to bed.
Christmas morning! Christmas morning was lovely. I slept late, until 9am or so. The dogs wake me by pouncing all over me in bed with more enthusiasm than usual. I think they know it’s a special day! Amazingly enough, even though Steve has been bugging me to open presents for weeks, we don’t jump right into it. Instead he loads the dishwasher while I putter around getting ready for the dinner I was making that day for Christmas. He decides to call his family before the day commences and we open their gift while we’re on the phone. They continue to pass the phone around to everyone at his house as I get the ham in the oven. Once Steve has talked to everyone he wanted to talk to, he hangs up and we commence opening presents.
It was fun, just the two of us and the puppies. We let them dig into their stockings first, which was an assortment of chewie bones, stuffed squeaky toys and treats. They went insane and I think they both devoured their first granola chewie in under a half an hour.
Steve and I take turns opening gifts, me opening one, him opening one, and on and on. We both did well, amazingly awesome this year. We have an uncanny knack of anticipating exactly what the other person needs and would love and it’s awesome to see the delight in the other persons eyes during times like these.
Steve gets headlights for his race car and a Turtle Beach headset. These are his major gifts. Other things are t-shirts, especially Always Sunny shirts and a soft Ford Mustang vintage wash shirt that he’s worn every night since he got it. Underoos and work socks, always a plus. The Saints Row the Third game he wants. A Three Stooges sign he saw in Gatlinburg and didn’t buy. A book by Cody Lundean, the Halo Encyclopedia and a Bear Grylls knife. And a Jason mask made from the original mold, which he is having a ridiculously fun time modifying. There were a few little things thrown here and there – candy, deodorant, magnets of the puppies to put on his toolbox. Overall, he seems pretty happy with it!
I get a plethora of awesome things I don’t even anticipate. A 10″ subwoofer and custom box for my car – Steve says he got me “BOOM!” for Christmas. Three video games: Skyrim, Dance Central 2 and Halo: Combat Evolved. An electronic corkscrew (does he know me or what? LOL). Crazy Stupid Love. Fuzzy socks. Another battery for my DSLR. Britney Spears Fantasy perfume (shut up! I actually love the smell of this perfume). Other random little things – something that turns juice into alcohol. And Pajama Jeans – let that sink in – PAJAMA JEANS! (We joked about getting them all the time because, come on, they’re pajama jeans but surprisingly enough, they are amazingly comfortable and I am shamelessly in love with them)
During all of this, A Christmas Story is playing in the background. I never do get to sit down and watch it all the way through.
My parents show up bearing more gifts and Mom helps me in the kitchen while the boys hang out and watch the movie. We get dinner finished and set up a buffet – there’s roasted ham, Velveeta shells and cheese, roasted red potatoes, cinnamon stewed apples, green beans stewed in chicken broth and ham hock, corn and my mom’s broccoli cheese casserole which is a bit different than the one I made the night before. All of it is delicious and we end the night opening presents in the living room while the puppies snuggle with my parents and we snack on apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
My parents buy the puppies some obnoxious Angry Birds squeaky toys and they got absolutely insane over them. There is one point where everybody is squeaking something at once and Baxter’s eyes are darting back and forth in his head and I swear his brain is going to explode from the excitement.
Not long after that, my parents leave because my mom wants to get home to watch the Packers game. Everyone says their goodbyes and Merry Christmas! Steve settles in to play some video games while I head back to call my grandmother. I speak to her for about an hour then call and chit chat with my sister-in-law for an hour too. After that, I finally get a chance to sit down and Steve and I play Halo, which is such a vintage throwback that it makes me nostalgic. We go to bed happy and content, exchanging “I Love You’s” and telling each other how awesome of a Christmas it was. It truly was!
And then we wake up the next morning and spend all day being lazy and recovering from the holiday. Steve plays video games and I read a little (Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – enjoyable!) then I play video games and discover that I am going to get addicted very quickly to Skyrim. We watch Crazy Stupid Love (and I jump on the Ryan Gosling bandwagon). We eat leftovers. We play more video games and I read more books, dozing off on the couch. I kept wanting to write an entry but decided I needed a day to rest and relax and that’s exactly what I took. We end the day as we always do, marveling how short the weekend was, how quickly Christmas came and went and how amazing all of it was.
It was beautiful. It was simple and quiet and filled with all of the friends and family we love. It had good fun, fun times, packages all wrapped up and enough hugs and kisses to go around.
It was perfect.
I hope yours was just the same.
I hope ours will continue to be the same forever.
This is what Christmas is supposed to be.
Beautiful, simple, quiet perfection.