The first night of Hannukah was a nice night with grandma and grandpa, and the kids got nice pajamas and some toys. They had a nice dinner and spent nice time together, which is the most important bit. In the Jewish calendar, Hannukah is not a particularly important holiday - putting it into perspective, it's somewhere between All Saints Day and Maundy Thursday in importance. However, because Christmas is such a big deal, Hannukah now becomes a big deal in response. Consumerism is very, very American.
We did not have a tree this year. The excuse that I've used is that I didn't want to continually play goalie to The Baby during the month of December. In reality, the tree is stuck in the attic, and my health (having been crappy at best for the last month) wasn't really up to unscrewing the ceiling and taking it down. Plus, there's the whole thing about my wife making a living as a cantorial soloist in our temple, and while I enjoy my Christmas celebration, we haven't quite reconciled the two.
I know that The Boy had some difficulties this year - something that deserves some exploration in a related post, not a news dump. Christmas is a fun holiday, and it's hard for a little kid in his situation not to be a little resentful that we don't do more Christmas stuff. I mean, it's all over town, all over school, all over television.... even Netflix has a section specifically devoted to Christmas specials.
However, we did put up lights outside the house. This was made somewhat more challenging by the fact that the outside railings and pillars in front of the house were replaced at the beginning of the month, so we redid some of th sections of lights, only to have a couple strings burn out in the middle. Cie la vie. The lights are fun, and I enjoy them.
Hannukah came and went, and we did the candles every night and sang the prayers. We went to The Wife's services on Friday night in the middle, and then we went to a congregation Hannukah dinner, which was nice. Not so much a small child event - the boys were kind of out of place - but at least I got to show off the spiffy t-shirt that my mother in law bought for me. It's fairly epic.
Christmas week, I finally got to give The Wife her present. This year, I really tried to surprise her with something she wouldn't expect. They had a photographer from the Tribune at the Rosh Hoshanah services, and they took a beautiful picture of her and the rabbi on the bima. I figured that I would buy a nice print of that picture, frame it, and give it. She wouldn't expect that - not normally something I do - and I'd be good. So, the picture arrives at the house in the mail a week later, and she opens the picture to see what it was. Now, this lady has not opened a piece of mail since we got married.... and that was the first piece. Sigh. So much for that surprise.
So, I go stealth mode again. Groupon had tickets to see the pianist Jim Brickman, who The Wife has loved since high school. I picked up a couple of tickets and recruited a number of people: since I didn't have chorus rehearsal, I got my chorus to add a special "social night" that she was going to attend. We would meet at my office and I'd surprise her with the plans change. I recruited my mother in law to watch the kids that night so that we'd have a show date for the first time in forever.
So, The Wife takes a singing job for Tuesday night.
At least, she had planned a singing engagement until I broke stealth and told her what the present was. Surprise, crushed; but the brownie points still won out. We had a nice dinner at a place called Olive R Twist. The show was great - solo piano, with some singing. I would categorize it as easy listening / new age / smooth jazz sort of music. It's nice. Check him out on YouTube - it's worth it. Not necessarily my first choice in music, but it's a nice way to spend an evening.
Christmas Eve, I let the boys open up their last presents: a set of Roald Dahl books for all of them, a sticker book for The Boy, a hat and toy for The Baby, and a baseball book for Little Bear. The Wife gave me the first of three presents: beautiful meals cooked from scratch, served on our china, with the whole family. That night, we had beef meatloaf, sweet potatoes, and rice pudding. For breakfast, we had pancakes (gluten free) and eggs. For lunch, we had turkey, mashed potatoes, and more rice pudding, with fresh cranberry sauce. They were beautifully cooked and greatly appreciated.
I also picked up a football for the boys - found it on sale for $5, which I couldn't resist. Since it was 60 degrees for a couple of days last week, we played football in the backyard, street, and playground. Modified rules: didn't have to catch the ball, whomever grabbed it first either counted as a complete pass or incomplete pass; four downs and the other guy got the ball; and two handed touch. Mostly, the games were Little Bear vs The Boy, with me as quarterback for both. A few times. the Baby and I took on the other two, which was about even of a match. They're little, and the football is too big.
This weekend, we lazed about the house and did a little straightening and cleaning. We're having a small gathering on New Year's Eve again.
Also not mentioned: the Pittsburgh Chai Lifeline party; our new car; my scope test follow up from november's issues.
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