Monthly Archives: December 2012

holiday travels and place

I’m just getting back from spending a week in Oregon with my family. I didn’t stay as long as I usually do and that was the right thing this year. My brother is just moving back to the area and getting settled in and *I* felt that the sooner that we free up beds and allow he and his son to get into their routine, the better.

My time in Oregon was delightful. I absolutely love my family and love the little town where I grew up. I heard it described as “charming” at our Christmas get together, and I have to agree. Every time I go home, I want to move back. The valley is gorgeous, and I know and love the people. Growing up, I constantly heard people complain about our little town. There is enough poverty, long-term welfare, and drug addiction to really depress a person. However, I later learned that all areas have these issues. When I moved out of my parents’ house and moved to other areas–small towns and cities–I realized that where ever you go, there will be people who hate where they’re living.

I have been fortunate enough to live in some gorgeous settings: on my parents’ farm, and right next to a  gorgeous bay in the Pacific Northwest, and under the spectacular mountains of Utah, and the rolling hills and vibrant sunsets of the Palouse. I’m the kind of person who has always liked where she lives, but I’ve also been lucky enough to live in really lovely areas.

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lights, camera

Soon, we’ll leave to spend Christmas with my family. Normally, I would stay for a solid three weeks. I’m not sure how long I’ll stay this year, but it won’t be nearly as long. Home has always been a place for me to rest and recover. In the last few years, my family’s situation has changed, and so home is not always as restful as it has been for me in the past. I think that will change as we all fall in to a new routine. Until then, it’s sometimes just hard on me and everyone to stay for a long period of time. I don’t mean that I’m not welcome, I just mean that lives are busy and space is limited. For now.

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Christmas scene at Temple Square SLC

Before leaving town, we visited Temple Square in SLC. If you’ve never been, you must go. It’s absolutely beautiful. During the Christmas season, it looks like they put lights on every single branch and flower. During the spring, the gardens are full of hundreds of varieties of flowers. I love going there and walking through the grounds.

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fountain at Temple Square SLC

This trip was somewhat ruined by hunger (we should have eaten dinner before we left), but it was redeemed by a surprise concert in the old tabernacle. It was gorgeous and inspiring and reminded me that I love choir and live music.

On that note, while I am home, I will also see a performance of White Christmas at the local opera house. It’s small town theater in this amazing historic building, and I grew up performing in players there. I think the stage is blessed because, small as it may be, the performances are always wildly entertaining.

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Christmas lights at Temple Square SLC

a birthday party / cold virus exchange

We had an impromptu birthday party here last weekend (happy birthday, Babe!). We thought about getting together for pizza and pitchers at Brewvies. At one point, the ancient Japanese art of karaoke was also considered. In the end, just meeting here seemed like the best option. Now, I’m not sure when it happened–fairly recently, I think–but I have weird hangups about having people over: my home is my sanctuary, control issues, yadda yadda yadda. Despite that, It ended up being fun for me and probably something I need to get used to anyway.

I made these cupcakes!

I made these cupcakes!

There was food. There was drink. There were games, live music, canned music, a dance party, and an idyllic midnight walk through the neighborhood in the falling snow, which quickly devolved into a snowball/whitewash fight until everyone was freezing and ready to go inside. I think I can safely say that fun was had by all.

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I think pretty much everyone had *several* cupcakes 😉

What we didn’t realize during that party was that someone harbored and shared the cold germs that would make us all sick a few days later. We didn’t realize everyone else was sick too, until we learned that the Christmasslashbirthdayslashbirthday party that was scheduled for this weekend had been cancelled because every.single.person who had been at our party the weekend before was also sick with a cold.

So, yeah. Enter soups and stews.

At Thanksgiving, Dad sent us home with fresh onions from the farm.

At Thanksgiving, Dad sent us home with fresh onions from the farm.

Since getting sick, we’ve been surviving on lamb stew, lentil soup, Vicks Vapo Rub and just generally trying to recover from the plague of all-night mouth breathing, headaches, and swollen sinuses. I have about one more day’s worth of school work left before I can officially let down. After that, I’m hoping to take at least week’s vacation from thinking about work.

And until then, there might be more soups, broths, and stews on the horizon.

Mushrooms for the lamb stew.

Mushrooms for the lamb stew!

healing

Lately, people have been using the word healing. It’s a word that, at first, seems perfect and soulful. Quickly, it can become a trite and meaningless. Now I can’t use it without a nudge and a wink. Anyway, but, I’m going to use it earnestly in this post.

While my relationship is not new to me, it is new to us in the way we are approaching it. Maybe it’s the new career. Maybe it’s because I’m not a perpetual student anymore. For whatever reason, the timing is right, and for the first time I am doing things like buying a Christmas tree and decorating for the holidays.

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Keeping it classy with yule log/Christmas music on the laptop.

During that process, I’ve stumbled upon something quite healing. I grew up in a household wherein the traditions (holiday, birthday, etc.) were completely maintained by the women. While there was no question as to whether or not the men would participate, there was a sense that they were somewhat reticent about the whole deal.

A month ago, I went to the store with my boyfriend to buy Christmas decorations. He didn’t seem particularly interested, but was happy to be along for the ride. As we began to go through decorations, he actually had opinions about which ornaments to buy! He was excited. He wanted our tree to look classy. Of course, my own father had opinions about how the tree should look, but he would *never* go so far as to go shopping with us for decorations. I found myself getting choked up in the store. Of course, there is the significance of “our first tree,” but it also occurred to me that I had a partner who would care, who would help buy Christmas decorations. To be fair, I have been the primary decorator and maintainer of traditions so far, but he showed some promise in an area that I didn’t think mattered, but obviously it did.

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Decorating the tree, with photographic evidence provided by my partner.

alone but not lonely

I finally have a night to myself! To celebrate, I’ve spent it stress eating, watching The Real Housewives of Atlanta on Hulu (though I’m not discerning–I watch them all), and later, finally, grading some end-of-semester portfolios (womp womp). When I found out that my boo was going to be away for a few days–he’s visiting his new niece (a redhead!)–I realized I would have an evening alone for the first time since…last weekend. I guess that wasn’t so long ago, but for a person who thrives on alone time, I keep thinking I’ll need more. Of course, wasting a bunch of time online and eating all the leftover pad thai and giant bowl of popcorn (with real butter!) gets old quickly.

When I got home from work, I promptly searched the house for some sort of “I love you” note, but found nothing. Hours later, I finally found the note, and now I miss him so bad and wonder why I ever have the stupid idea that I would ever enjoy an evening to myself! Okay, well, I’ll still take a mani/pedi, Vogue, and Real Housewives night occasionally, but I’ll miss him while he’s away.

trimming the tree

I bought my very first Christmas tree. Sure, it’s a plastic monstrosity, but it’s mine! And I love it! Here is photo evidence of said tree:

first Christmas tree!

first Christmas tree!

Here is also an artful photo of a one of the (new) Christmas ornaments I now own:

artful photo of ornament (set again obviously plastic tree backdrop)

artful photo of ornament (set against obviously plastic tree backdrop)

How, you may be asking yourself, can someone get so far into her or his adult life without ever purchasing a Christmas tree? Here’s the answer: As you may know by now, for most of my adult life, I have been a student. That means that during the cold month of December, I usually pack my bags, turn down the heat, give my plants a good watering, and hope for the best as I travel home to my homeland.

I enjoy the holidays like anybody else, and I always get a good dose of baking and Christmas lights, but I do it with my family. Now that I am no longer a student, I have the creative energy to indulge in stuff like this. It also helps that I am making good money now and buying a Christmas tree and a few cheap ornaments is not a financial burden. Sure, I could have decorated for Christmas in previous years, but this is the first time that I have really felt like it.

Here’s the dirty secret, there was a massive snowstorm here several weeks ago. With a foot of snow on the ground and the fact that I would be gone for the week of Christmas, which would thus deprive me of potential time with my new tree, conditions seemed perfect to start decorating for Christmas. Although it is the beginning of December now, my confession is that this tree has actually been up in my livingroom for a good three weeks. I know that’s controversial in some circles, but that’s me: controversial in some circles.