Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Past

The Christmas rush is over. My favorite radio station has switched back to playing non-holiday music, and I’ve returned to work. The past weekend and Christmas itself flew by, but we had a good time. On Saturday we went to the mall because I still needed to get Gregg’s gifts. He dropped me off at the entrance and met me about forty minutes later by Starbucks. We decided to drive out to the beach which is only 15 min. from the mall and had lunch at the Beachside Café, choosing to sit outside since the weather was gorgeous. After eating, we walked down to the beach which was packed with people laying out in the sun and surfing. I couldn’t believe that this was only two days before Christmas!

When we got home, I gave my dad a call because he had left a message the night before thanking me for the present we sent. At 5:30 we started getting ready for a Christmas open house we had been invited to by one of the choir members. We were by far the youngest people there, but it was nice to mingle with people from our church and enjoy the goodies that were out.

Sunday there was only one service in the morning so we slept in later than normal. After church, we had lunch with some friends from Covenant at their house. Their two daughters, 6 and 7, thought that Gregg was hysterical and kept asking him to do funny things like wear their dresses on his head. I was stuffed after all the food and sweets I had, and wanted nothing more than to just take a nap but we only had about an hour before we needed to go back to church for the Christmas Eve service. We left at 4 because Gregg had to set up the stage, so while he was doing that I fixed my make-up and read a magazine.

People started trickling in about fifteen minutes to six, stopping to take a candle that would be lit for the traditional singing of Silent Night. I had mixed feelings that evening. I was glad to be celebrating a joyous occasion, but kind of sad that Gregg wouldn’t be sitting beside me since he had to be up in the sound booth. The young adults we’re friends with all had family with them, so I sat by myself feeling rather odd and self- conscious.

The service was beautiful though. When it came time to sing Silent Night, the last hymn of the night, I felt my eyes welling up with tears. It was so moving- everyone singing the words we all knew so well together in a quiet and reverent tone, coupled with the tiny lights of candles in an otherwise dark sanctuary. I forgot that I was sitting next to virtual strangers instead of my husband, and drank in the moment. Afterwards, the room was buzzing with happy wishes for a good holiday and the excitement of knowing that there was only one more sleep ‘til Christmas. When Gregg was done packing up and whatnot we went out to dinner, then came home and went straight to bed.

The next morning we woke up around 7, showered and got ready to go out for breakfast at Denny’s, one of the only places open. The restaurant was packed, but we didn’t feel rushed to leave. We enjoyed sausage, eggs, pancakes and French toast- another diet buster in the long line of indulgences we had already partaken of that weekend. When we came home, Gregg got out the digital camera and we prepared to open presents. We started with the ones that came from his sister and the kids. Our oldest niece, who’s 9 ½ and very crafty, made Gregg a scarf and me a necklace, bracelet and earrings out of colorful beads. The bracelet was big enough to fit around my husband’s neck, but it was still a very nice thought. Of course, we took pictures of each other proudly wearing the hand-made gifts. Next, we opened the presents sent from Gregg’s aunt & uncle on his mother’s side. They got us a $50 gift card to Cracker Barrel and a welcome sign to hang on our front door, with our last name engraved on it.

Then I gave Gregg his presents, the newest Chris Cagle cd and a couple pairs of boxers. He put the cd on and started handing me my gifts one by one. He got me a few cute shirts, a pair of white sweatpants aka “apartment pants”, and Jeremy Camp’s worship album. (Sidenote: I must say that this cd is AWESOME. I borrowed it from a friend last fall and played it until I thought I had broken it. I’m so glad to have a copy of my own now!) We took pictures of the crumpled wrapping paper and opened boxes strewn all over the living room, and Gregg uploaded all the pictures from that morning onto his laptop so he could send them to our parents.

After the excitement of unwrapping presents, we hit a lull so I took the time to call my family and wish them a Merry Christmas. We cleaned up the mess and a few hours later, went out to dinner. It was either Denny’s again or Golden Corral, so we chose Golden Corral and were surprised to find ourselves waiting on a Disney World sized line to get in the door. It took about twenty minutes before they found us a table, which wasn’t too bad. The buffet that day was really good, with sirloin steak, chicken n’ dumplings, pot roast, ham, and all kinds of yummy ooey gooey desserts. We ate ourselves silly.

On our way to the car, Gregg’s family called so we took turns talking to them on the way home. Once we got home, I started a load of wash so I’d have clean clothes for work the next day and Gregg called North Carolina and we talked to Lori (SIL) and our nieces and nephew. Our 7 year old nephew, Sam, told us that he saw Santa Claus going to the bathroom on Christmas Eve. I have no idea what that was about, but he thought it was pretty funny!

A few hours later, I got to see how a dryer works. For the past few days, our dryer had been making this annoying humming noise, which kept getting louder every time we ran it. When I moved clothes from the washer to the dryer that night and pushed the start button, the noise was now so loud we could barely hear ourselves think. So, Gregg being the handyman that he is, took it all apart and tried to see what was causing the problem.

He suspected it’s the motor, but wasn’t able to really fix it. I helped him put everything back together, and when we started it again the noise was still there but a lot quieter. Since then it’s just gotten worse, to the point where I can’t be in the kitchen when it’s running because I’ll get a headache. So frustrating. It was brand new when it was installed last September by the guy who flipped our house so now it’s past the warranty period, even though we only got the benefits of using it since February when we moved in. It still dries clothes and everything, but the noise is ear-splitting. I hope it can be fixed easily and cheaply.

Well, December 25 may be over, but there are more festivities for us to enjoy with the arrival of my in-laws in two days. Jeff and Liz came down ahead of Gregg’s mom, dad and grandpa so they could vacation in the area. They got into Orlando yesterday morning at 10:30 and visited with Liz’s parents who live in Tampa. Gregg called up Jeff on their way to the hotel and invited them over to our house for dinner. It was kind of last minute, but I just made extras of the baked chicken I was already planning on making and Gregg ran to the store to pick up an apple pie. Since he was off all day yesterday, he cleaned the house, did yard work and even folded laundry, so I didn’t freak out like I normally do about company coming over.

It was really great to see them again. We made the house very cozy by starting a fire (since it was about 40 degrees) and turning the Christmas tree lights on. Over dinner and dessert, we got somewhat caught up. They gave us our presents- the book Weird Florida and a roll of Taylor Ham! Liz has a small baby bump now, which was just barely noticeable under her sweatshirt. It was really nice to be with family again, and now I’m looking more forward to having everyone over for “Christmas, Take Two”.

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