Friday, December 28, 2007

my home for the holidays

with my departure for india coming so soon on the heels of the holiday season (jan. 1st to be exact! and yes, i am panicking), i decided not to go home for christmas this year. i missed two christmases on the mission, but this was my first year really on my own. and, though i love my family dearly, it was surprisingly pleasant, and sort of liberating, to have my own little holiday. being the adult that i (sort of) am, i went out and bought my first christmas tree (i heart big lots!), hung up stockings, put lights on my ficus tree and, voila! the house was a christmas paradise.

staying in salt lake for christmas also meant i got to attend the big christmas eve dinner at uncle bob's. the weather around here on christmas eve was nasty, but plenty of extended family made the trip up to 11th avenue, and it was a raucous party indeed, with lots of food...

cute kids...

... and good conversation with relatives i love.

oh, there was also a little talent show, with lots of piano playing, singing and dancing and some air guitar from the aforementioned cute kids, as well as some adults (not the air guitar so much, or the dancing. but some singing for sure). uncle bob closed out the night by reading the nativity story from the bible, and we all sang "silent night" before heading home to wait for santa.

(as a side note i would like to say that it was so nice to go to a big party at uncle bob's and not have to worry anymore about living in the aftermath of that party. ah, sweet liberty.)

my family's tradition is to stay up late watching movies on christmas eve, open presents just after midnight and then sleep in christmas morning. which is exactly what i did. and it was heavenly. (my family, i discovered when i spoke to them the nexty day, wimped out and opened their presents at 10p.m. christmas eve and then went to bed.)

at any rate, it was a completely relaxing and fulfilling holiday, with lots of time to enjoy and reflect on the true gifts of the christmas season. i hope yours was just as merry.

the wedding warrior

when the deluge of spring wedding announcements began earlier this year, i decided to put myself on a wedding hiatus. generally speaking, weddings are not all that fun. they are usually filled (generally speaking) with mediocre food, bad music and people you don't know, while the people you do know (presumably the bride and/or groom) are too busy to spend much time talking to you or anyone else, and may or may not even remember you were there in the first place (generally speaking). so, when the wedding flood began, i decided i had spent plenty of my adult life (not to mention income) going to weddings, thank you very much, and i was done. there were a few necessary exceptions to this rule (cousin trevor, thanks for appreciating the sacrifice) but, generally speaking, i had a wonderful and wedding-free summer. and i saw no need to put an end to a good thing.

i made another exception a few weeks ago, however, when a college friend, dallan, got married. another dear friend from college, chris, came to town for the festivities, so i decided to join in as well. and, i am so glad i did! at first i thought i wouldn't be glad because i a) had to drive to lehi (at least they say it was lehi, but it might as well have been another state for how out-of-the-way it was) and b) walked in late to a very nice, sit-down dinner at a country club (i'm classy like that). but, when i sat down, there were two more great friends from college, mike and brian! gasping, squeaky-surprised greetings and hand waving ensued (from me, not them. they seemed to take it all in easy stride) and the rest of the evening was a delightful reunion. (i would also like to say, for the record, that the food was delicious, the music was lovely, and dallan came over to talk to use several times. like i said, there are exceptions.) i promised to immortalize the event on this here blog, for all to see, so here you go. (left to right: brian, mike, me, chris. dallan is the terrified groom in the middle of the bottom picture.)

the evening also got me to thinking about old and new friends, and old and new selves. there are lots of things that have changed since we were last all together. i, for one, am way more hilarious now than i was in college (right?), and i have cuter bangs. i also have a lot more experience and confidence and knowledge about myself, what i want and where i am going. and i think everyone else would say the same thing (except maybe for the bangs). mike and brian are married with babies, chris has started a career and a life in california, but they could all still come together to celebrate the success of a friend (or a "buddy" as i guess the dudes say), and in a lot of ways nothing was different at all. it was just the same old, easy fun we always had. thanks, pals, for a worthy exception to the no-wedding rule.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

this is why i have a blog

it was a chilly saturday evening and michelle, my dear friend and former mission companion who was visiting from delaware, and emdawg and i decided to go see a movie (it was "atonement" and it was very good, but that is not what this post is about). when em came into the theater she said that she was a little worried about getting out of her parking spot. she had parked on a lot of ice, she said, and was pretty sure she would be stuck. and she was. when the movie was over, michelle and i watched to see if she could get out. and she sure couldn't. she has a stick shift with front wheel drive, and it just wasn't doing the trick. see exhibit A. (i might also add that emdawg had her sister's entire christmas in the back of her lodged car. so the urgency to un-lodge it was, well, great.)

michelle and i tried pushing the car from the front while em floored it, but that didn't work either. so we decided to head to a grocery store to buy some salt and/or sand to improve the situation. we also called burly-man chris (aka: KFC, wolverine, chrissy-poo-poo) to help, but he was on a date and we were pretty sure we could handle it once we had a little traction. our first stop was albertson's. we asked a woman where we could find salt, and she said we had to pay for it inside and then pick it up outside. two strange men in front of us in line were buying a lot of meat, some of which bled on the turning conveyor. to review, there was a puddle of blood on the turning conveyor. em, who does not eat meat, was particularly disgusted by this, but not as disgusted as when she looked down and saw that she was standing in a puddle of blood on the floor. i wish i had a picture of this, but i don't. you'll just have to trust me. it was yucky. but, we shook it off, paid for the salt and then went outside to get it. sadly, the only kind of salt they had was for water softeners. not exactly what we needed. em got a refund and we moved on.

the next store we passed was rite aid. as it was only 9:45 on a saturday night, we figured it was worth a try. we did not figure that it was closed. but it was. em was not happy. we don't like rite aid.

right next to rite aid is a chevron gas station. gas stations have car related things, so we decided to check there next. just as i pulled up to the door, the station attendant was hanging a sign in the window. when i got out of the car to ask if he had any salt, he started waving his hands and shaking the door to show me it was locked, then pointed at the sign and ran away. see below:

me: "did that really happen?"
em: "he must have the runs."

and so, off we went to smiths. we drove by where we though the salt would be, and all we saw was more blasted water softening salt, but em went inside to check, just in case, while michelle and i waited in the car. isn't she cute?

and then, we got a phone call. there was salt! and em was buying it! from a brazilian named rodgrido. we heart smiths, and we heart rodrigo. armed with salt, and some peanut m&ms, we headed back to the stranded car. happily, it was still full of presents.

in another stroke of luck, em had a knife in her car, which she used with great skill to open the magical salt. we waited with great anticipation while she poured the salt behind all the tires, and on the giant mountain of icy snow behind the poor, stuck car. we took our positions, hands on the hood, ready to push with all our might. (emdawg would like me to add here that "might" is a relative term when attached to michelle and me. but, we tried.)

and it worked! with a great rev of the engine, a big push and a prayer, em's car, full of presents, was free!

a true christmas miracle.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

'tis the season

in what is now three christmas seasons in utah, i had never gone to see the lights on temple square, until last week. the board i serve on at the ywca (it's like the ymca but for girls, and with less basketball) took some of the moms from the teen home at the y. to "the square" to celebrate the season. it was, to say the least, bitter cold (luckily i was wearing leggings under my pants), but the girls were total troopers and we saw every light in that place. the girls especially loved listening to a recitation of the nativity story in front of the nativity scene. and i especially loved being with them. temple square was absolutely crawling with people, mostly rambunctious teenagers (some people's children, i tell ya), but it still felt like stepping away from it all. the season sort of crept up on me this year (don't we say that every year?) and this was the first chance i had to stop and think about christmas and what it means to me: a time to open my heart just a little bit more to family, friends and, most importantly, to christ. a time to let myself be changed, even just a little bit, by the love i receive so freely from family, friends and, most importantly, christ. and a time to show that same love to others as much as i can. it was a simple realization, and a simple night, but i think it will go down as one of my favorite christmas memories.

after the lights, we went back to the teen home for some much needed hot chocolate, and some delicious cookies. you know those cookies they have at the grocery store, those sugar cookies with a thick slab of season-appropriate frosting? i love those. the girls were so excited in the van on the way home, talking about their kids and what they would get them for christmas, and it was so fun to watch them be moms, and to play with the little ones ourselves. like i said, a new favorite christmas memory.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

for the harried holiday shopper

this just landed in my inbox:

"puzzling over a christmas gift for your lassie? be sure, she will be especially glad to light upon a super-size one-eyed python in your trousers!"

gift-buying dilemmas solved, no?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

over the river, through the woods and up the snowy canyon of death

partly to get away from the grind of the big city, and partly to celebrate the birth of the entirely fabulous susan (an important day for all of us, to be sure) we headed up to the woolley cabin homestead over the weekend. in retrospect, we could have picked a better weekend as the weather was what can only be referred to as a horizontal blizzard. luckily, ck is a pro at snow driving and we made it alive with only one death-defying experience. we couldn't quite make it up the driveway, though, so we strapped on the snow shoes and hiked in the final quarter mile (that's right. we're hard core). there was even too much snow for the snowmobiles to work properly. i find this a cruel irony as they are SNOWmobiles. but i digress. once we were actually in the cabin it was a cozy evening of venison steaks (shot by a woolley and grilled to perfection by nathan), hot chocolate with some extra foam thanks to a cocoa latte contraption, cupcakes (baked to perfection by sallee), snuggling under blankets and lots of the game "true colors" (if you need a secret kept, travis is your man). and a night of tight sleep.

the next morning the horizontal blizzard was gone and the sun was shining, so we struck out again on the snow shoes. as you probably know, i am not one for winter (at all. ever.) but the snow was powdery and wonderful, i sort of like wearing snow pants, and i jumped off the side of a hill and landed unharmed in a lovely drift. all in all, a great and rustic success i would say. wouldn't you?