Christmas at our house -- 12/26/03

The tree was finally fully-decorated -- over-decorated if one were to listen to Nancy, who thought that we could well have ceased our labors a few dozen ornaments sooner, but Jill & Jeremy & I are all traditionalists and had to use every ornament. That included antique ornaments that had been on my family's Christmas trees when I was a child, ornaments we had purchased over the years, ornaments given to us by friends and family (including some lovely ornaments crafted by one of Nancy's sisters), and ornaments made by our children (hence, the chain made of colored construction paper more than a decade ago).

As you can see in the picture, the decorated tree successfully lured Santa Claus into leaving colorful piles of presents around its base. (I have long observed that decorated Christmas trees attract presents -- post hoc ergo propter hoc.)
A quiet Christmas Eve -- Nancy turned the living room TV to It's a Wonderful Life (which has always been one of my favorite movies since I was a kid) -- Jill watched a little bit of it with us and then went out for a while with her friends Liz and Lia -- Jeremy was playing computer games and watching movies with friends, first up in his room and then in the den, and then he went out for a while. This left Nancy and me watching the tribulations of the Bailey family while Tiger curled up on the couch between us and slept.

[This is probably the first prime time program on a major network that I have watched in a very long time -- I could not believe the ratio of commercials to program -- my goodness, how do people put up with that? Nancy and I don't watch great amounts of television, mostly cable stuff like HGTV or the Food network where we are accustomed to the fact that they have lots and lots of commercials (or HBO where there are no commercials) or I watch a bit with Jeremy, World Rally events on some car racing cable channel (where he is quite adept at surfing over to other channels -- such as Discovery or Comedy Central or the Cartoon Network -- during commercial breaks). But let's face it -- a lot of that kind of television is background stuff -- it's on but you're not giving it your full attention because you're doing other things -- kind of like having the TV news on in the morning when you're getting dressed and brushing your teeth, etc., making sure to pay attention to the weather and traffic reports, but otherwise it's just on in case something important should happen. Actually sitting down and watching television is different. Perhaps I've become too accustomed to HBO (Sopranos, Six Feet Under, etc.) or to popping a movie into a DVD player, but I was horrified at the outrageous amount of time devoted to commercials. It seems to me that prime time network television used to restrict itself to far fewer commercials but this was like watching an after-midnight movie on a non-network channel. I actually timed it -- four minutes of commercials, ten minutes of movie, four minutes of commercials, etc. It was Christmas Eve and we just wanted to sit there watching Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed for about the twentieth time so we just laughed at the number of commercials and took advantage of the opportunity to make another cup of tea, etc., but I can't imagine ever putting up with that just to watch a movie on a normal evening.]

A couple of weeks ago Gillian had asked Nancy and me to reserve December 27th to go out to dinner with her and her friend Joe and Joe's mother and her boyfriend. Okay, so we agreed, not quite sure why (she and Joe have been buddies for at least the past three years but I don't think we've ever met his mother) but this seemed to be something she wanted... this even got narrowed down to a particular Japanese restaurant that is a one of Jill's favorite spots. Christmas morning we unwrapped one of our presents and discovered that Jill had given Nancy and me tickets to Trinity Rep (a first rate theatre company in Providence) to see their (widely acclaimed) production of A Christmas Carol on the 27th and the phantom dinner plans were simply to be certain that we made no other plans for that evening. Clever kid. (Okay, clever 21 year old woman.)

Put a turkey in the oven early Christmas afternoon, went for a three and a half mile run -- in shorts and a sweatshirt -- and, except where the bike path was deeply in shadow, I was too warm in the sweatshirt, temperature in the mid-40's (about 7 ° C) -- made lots of mashed potatoes and dressing and gravy and brought that stuff over to Nancy's mother's house. She had made a Christmas ham, so between the two of us we had plenty of food for the eighteen people gathered there for Christmas dinner. (And since the youngest person there was in high school, we are talking about eighteen adults rather than a mixture of adults and little kids.) Matt and Tammy were there and brought the video of their wedding... fun watching the partying and dancing.

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