I have a habit of creating extravagent projects for myself. I got particularly creative this Christmas and made things for my sister, husband, mother, mother-in-law, best friend's daughter, and more. I'm really proud of how all of these turned out and I've wanted to share them before now, but I couldn't because the recipients might have seen them.
Derek and I have a problem in which we cannot let gifts sit under the tree. I wish I could say this was a Christmas-specific problem, but it's not. It's a birthday/Valentine's Day/anniversary, etc. problem. We work hard to keep this a secret from my mother, who believes we should get struck by lightning for such behavior. She usually finds out anyway. Derek and I exchanged our first Christmas gifts back in November. We made it a few more weeks before we opened the next ones and I think we made it to a week before Christmas before we exchanged the last two. (I got this beautiful Lord of the Rings print from DeviantArt.) We've accepted that we have a problem, but we don't really intend to do anything about it.
The Part Where the Airline Industry Hates Me
It's a running joke in my family that every time I fly, something goes terribly wrong. Two years ago, a storm in Atlanta led to a clog at LAX. Derek and I waited almost four hours in a line to get the boarding pass for our pug (which you can't get online). The result was that we missed our flight ON CHRISTMAS DAY and didn't make it to Michigan until 10PM. My family was opening gifts well after midnight.
THIS YEAR we had a weather delay followed by a mechanical delay. We were stuck on the runway for over an hour before we returned to the terminal, and we had to do all of this with a pug in a bag under the seat. So airline industry, what did I ever do to you???
The Part in the Mitten
After we got to Michigan - I grew up here *points to center of right palm* - things got crazy. We stayed up until 2:30AM that first night, thanks to our delayed flight, and got up early the next morning to wrap presents. In order to avoid paying to check bags or risk the airlines taking carry-on suitcases, Derek and I only travel with a backpack each. However, these backpacks have little space for gifts, so I do most of my shopping online and get everything shipped to my parents' house. There was a pile of packages on my bed waiting for me when Derek and I got to Michigan.
About a week before we'd left, I came up with the brilliant idea to cook a huge brunch for a dozen of my friends. My mother graciously did all the shopping for me before I arrived, but Derek and I had to cook for about three hours the night before and two more hours the next morning. Everything looked gorgeous and the food was devoured, but it was too much work. I need to figure out how to work smarter, not harder, you know? I'm a little too good at working harder.
Later that same day, I woke up from a much-needed nap and the whole family cooked. We made appetizers to share and had a little cocktail party that segued into opening presents. My favorite presents were rather simple this year: a fantastic pair of socks, a glazed stoneware mug, and a lovely little pair of earrings from my sister. My mom got Derek the Helm's Deep LEGO set and I might have pouted a little because I wanted that, but it's not like he won't share.
The Part Where We Get to Dinner on Time
Derek and I flew back to LA Christmas morning to celebrate with his dad's side of the family. Given my luck with flying, we were well aware that we might never get there, but we decided to give it a shot anyway. And miraculously, nothing went wrong. I mean, I almost threw up going through some turbulence, but what's that? Nothing some airplane pretzels and Diet Coke can't fix. Everything was quiet at LAX and the lack of traffic on the way home felt like LA's Christmas gift to us. We walked the dog, grabbed some presents and a quick shower, and drove down to Orange County. Everyone else had been there for hours, but they had just sat down for dinner. We ate, opened presents - get this: I got a doormat from my father-in-law that says, "Speak, Friend, and Enter" - and then we played with Derek's uncle's murderous cockatiel, Layla.
Thus ends my Christmas chronicle. If you celebrated this week, I hope your Christmas was just as fulfilling - but far more relaxing - than mine.
Happy New Year, everyone :-)