Christmas morning, my Dad had to run his rounds, so we all waited until early afternoon to get together to open presents.
This did mean, however, that we got a chance to talk to my brother on the phone and to share a nice breakfast my Mom had prepared, of some breakfast casseroles and fruit salad.
Then, my sister and I walked to the local CVS to pick up a couple things, including an extra Santa hat for her. We ran into Dad, who was buying his newspaper, so he gave us a ride back.
Then we had fun for a while, posing with Santa hats. We included the dogs once again, which they seemed to enjoy. After all, they got treats.
Una snuggles with The Gryphon.
My sister and I get our elf on.
Una contemplates Christmas.
Emma learns that Santa gets dog cookies.
Can you tell which one's me and which is Una?
The Gryphon and I, in the holiday spirit.
My sister and her husband get holly-jolly.
While in the past, we always distributed all the presents to the people who were receiving them and opened them one at a time, we did it differently this year. Instead, one at a time, everybody distributed all the gifts they'd brought for people, who opened them simultaneously. This meant that the gift-opening didn't take as long. Plus, we'd all made an agreement not to buy as much this year, so the gift opening was much more manageable.
Among the gifts were some great handmade items, such as magnets my sister and her husband made from pics they found on the Internet. Plus, my Mom made some lovely washcloths, which The Gryphon modeled, looking very much like Mr. Gumby from Monty Python.
The Pastor, who spent Christmas with us, along with her songs, had knitted us sweaters. I loved my short-sleeved light green fitted sweater. My sister's, though, was too big, so she spoke to The Pastor about what to make her, and The Pastor will knit her a new one. It was a very sweet idea, though, and we both appreciated that she spent so much time on them. I neglected to have a photo taken of me in the Christmas sweater, so I'll try to remember to do that at a later time.
Mom and The Pastor watch us open their gifts.
Dad had a great idea for Christmas: he bought us items from our wedding registry that no one had yet purchased. Namely, he gave us two full plate settings in the pattern we'd chosen, which we'd really wanted. He also got me a really nice jewelry box, which I've been needing for a while.
Meanwhile, my sister's dog, Emma, relaxed nearby on the comfortable dog bed, which we brought out of the guest room for her.</font>
Then, after we'd relaxed a little while, it was time to make dinner. This was a group activity, involving everyone who liked to cook (my dad's contribution would be to set the table and clean up afterwards). My sister and her husband made chicken with mustard and oats which was tasty and tender. My mom worked together with The Pastor to make an interesting salmon dish, topped with a bright green sauce made from split peas. The Gryphon and I put together some maple mashed sweet potatoes. My sister and I made a salad, and we enjoyed wine and juice as beverages.
Dessert were some low-fat chocolate cupcakes made by The Pastor. And then, just for fun, we roasted some chestnuts. This was my sister's idea, who remembered having eaten chestnuts as a child with friends. Of course, we couldn't remember how they'd been prepared, so we just tried a recipe on the Internet. They were a lot more trouble to open than we'd expected, and I cut myself on my left index finger when my knife slipped. Whoops!
We had a little time to relax after dinner before our evening plans, which were to see The Golden Compass. I took the opportunity to get a few more pics, including a nice one of Dad in his favorite chair, wearing the red sweater he wears every Christmas.
The movie theater was initially empty save for us, and we thought we'd have it to ourselves and get to make loud comments throughout the showing. But eventually, the theater filled up.
The movie, though full of special effects and featuring some good acting on the part of the young protagonist, Lyra Belacqua, played by Dakota Blue Richards, seemed to be lacking in focus. It also had a very unsatisfactory ending. I did, however, quite like the armored bears.
We stayed up late, chatting and enjoying a bottle of red wine from Chadd's Hill Winery, along with some cheese that The Gryphon and I had brought.
The day after Christmas, we had to get on the road, but in the morning, while my sister was packing up, I interviewed her for my book, My Wedding, My Way: Real Women, Real Weddings, Real Budgets. She had a lot of great insights.</font>
I also took some photos of the other pets who had joined us for the holidays, namely Dad's cats and my sister's cat, Ludo, who was confined to a separate room. He was only there because he had an ear infection and needed medicine twice a day. Clearly, though, he was feeling better by the end of his stay and even a bit cuddly. My dad's cat, Mia, was much healthier than last time we'd seen her: the vet had put her on a special food which cleared up all her skin problems.
Harold on his favorite windowsill
Mia relaxes on Dad's bed
Ludo shows off his different-colored eyes
Then, we packed up our own car, hugged everyone good-bye and got on the road. Of course, this involved dragging Una off the couch. She wanted to stay. I think she thought the party would continue after we left. To make it up to her, we got her a plain McDonald's hamburger on the road. That seemed to make cheer her up.
Dogs want everyone they like to live together in one house.