obligatory holiday post

Without the daily requirement of the gratitude journal, I just haven’t been feeling the whole blogging writing thing lately. I dunno, just work and school and family and life is just enough. Anyway.

So we had a holiday potluck/ white elephant gift exchange at work, which was fun. Cat had brought in a little bag with two Starbucks re-usable 16 oz cups and a little home-made collage in a frame:

I love it, gotta admit. Cutest thing ever!

This year we kinda went a little gift-buying crazy, what with two incomes now coming in and the house mistake taken care of. Plus all those years of living on one income and dealing with a tight pocketbook (it’s weird to look back and realize all our debt was related solely to medical bills and house stuff; we still don’t have credit cards) means that we’ve gotten pretty good at scouring out deals — more bang for the buck.

John in particular had a lot of fun. He was so gleeful this whole month — he would go shopping in the morning while I was at work and hide the presents. All last week, he was wrapping gifts and teasing me about how surprised I was going to be, and how I wouldn’t be able to guess anything. He kept insisting one of the presents was a small animal, and would look at me with wide eyes and say, “You didn’t shake the package, did you?”

He really did surprise me, too. He found a real leather jacket in perfect condition and brand-new, unworn boots at Goodwill. He also noticed more than a few items I’d eyeballed over the year and sneakily picked them up, like an infinity scarf I’d been quietly drooling over at Costco.

I was pretty happy because I managed to surprise John this year, too. He didn’t guess a single one of the gifts I bought him, and for the first time I got to see the look on his face when he unwraps a complete mystery of a gift. It’s a pretty awesome look.

Kidling got one or two big gifts (Nook HD, Halo 4) but mostly a series of items we’d bought and squirrelled away over the year, like a science kit and some hex bugs and some board games. They were also having psycho-crazy sales at Toys R Us, so we got some stuff there. Lately he’s really into My Little Pony, so I got him some My Little Pony stuff and downloaded a My Little Pony app to his Nook HD.

I gotta admit, I feel a little odd about getting stuff that’s so clearly marketed and packaged for girls for my son, but less because of rigid stereotypes about gender roles that hold, and more because I’m concerned his friends will tease him. In the past, his Grandma Linda has shown concern/ distaste for Kidling’s lack of stereotypical gender preference for toys and colors, and if family can’t accept it how can I expect friends to?

The reality is that his friends appear to be a lot more accepting than family, as is so often the case. The brothers who spend a lot of time here seem to have a blase attitude about it all, which is cool. I haven’t heard them tease Kidling about it at all, and I’ve even caught the three of them watching the show together. That was unexpected, since those boys are more typically boyish-boy, with sports and video games and karate and whatnot. But they also call Kidling their red-headed stepbrother, and treat him like another rough-and-tumble sibling, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at how accepting they are.

Speaking of family, I found out I accidentally shipped my sister’s package to her summer address (she moved 3 times this year), so she won’t get it until she gets home from our older sister’s place. My dad did receive his gift, which is good since I mailed it kinda late. I couldn’t really think of what to get him. I promised him we would try to find time to come visit in the summer. I realized this year that my dad is 70 — the average lifespan of a male in America is 75.6 years, so I’m trying to emotionally and mentally prepare for that loss. I don’t want this to be like when my mom and Kristen died, and I regretted all the time I didn’t spend with them that I could have. We have but one life to live, and my dad has been a good father more often than not. I’m terrified of the day I won’t be able to call him and debate politics or talk about family memories.

My brother sent me a text saying Happy Festivous, which both cracked me up and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, that he would recognize we’re not celebrating christmas, but the holiday season in general. Growing up, my family used to act out the nativity scene (when we were young), or read it from the bible (when we were older). Huge focus on the “reason for the season.”

John and I also try to focus on a “reason for the season” as we move through the holiday season. We talk to Kidling about the myths behind the various traditions, and last night John hopped on the internet to illustrate how the solstice represents the “death” of the sun, and how after three days the “three wise men” (stars) rise in the east. He explained how these occurrences are echoed in many of the major religious traditions, both past and present. It’s a fun little secular tradition. We talked about how from this day on, the sun will rise earlier and set later, and how if we pay close attention we’ll be able to track the minute changes from week to week. Science = fun!

Anyway, John’s popped in the blu-ray extended edition of LoTR I got him, and we’ve got pizza to eat. So that’s it for the obligatory holiday update. Dee is watching Kidling next week in return for all the sitting I did this week, so I may actually have time to write more often . . . but quite honestly, I’ll probably be spending that time running back and forth preparing for the new quarter, so probably not.

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