Christmas Tradition: Dinner with the gals

ChristmasTraditionsOne of the things my sister, mom, and I have done since I moved to Sacramento is go out to dinner, just the three of us, some time just before Christmas.  We usually go somewhere nice like Ruth’s Chris or in last night’s case Bandera.  It’s a great bonding time.  We have fancy drinks and splurge on a good meal.

We take a break from the rush of the holidays and daily life in general, even if it’s only for a couple of hours. I always try to have Baileys on the rocks at the end of the dinner, but I keep overindulging in good wine.  Speaking of…

Last night, I accidentally ordered a $50 bottle of wine.  I was looking at the glass price.  Yes, I’d already had a glass of wine…and not enough to eat.  Oops. It was delightful, however.

Usually, we also give each other little gifts.  It’s a pretty ornament or something fancy, but small, we might not normally buy for ourselves.  This year, I totally forgot.  In my defense, I did have to fly halfway across the country for Christmas and have had quite a bit on my mind lately, but no worries. It’s all good.

 

Top 5 things I love about Christmas

Top5Christmas-2103What makes this Yuletide time of year so special? Below are the five things I enjoy…in no particular order.

1) Christmas specials – While I’m not a big fan of Frosty or The Grinch, I do enjoy a Charlie Brown Christmas.  One of the more obscure holiday TV specials I enjoy is the Claymation Christmas special.  It came out back in the late 80s when the California Raisins were a huge marketing hit. The Carol of the Bells bit is my favorite.  I mean Quasimodo is the conductor.

2) Baked goods – While candy at Halloween is nice, my heart will always belong to baked goods. Every year, I make a special batch of cookies to share at Christmastime. For the past few years, my nephew has been in attendance to help.  Usually, his help consists of decorating the sugar cookies.  I think this year, since he’s 7, I might try to convince him to actually help stir up some dough.

3) Cheer – This is what I like to call get-togethers.  I know you don’t really need a reason to hang out with friends and loved ones, but the Yuletide season is a great excuse to down some fancy drinks and have a few laughs.  This is what I really enjoy about the holiday season. I can do without the gifts, but I need to gather with loved ones.

4) Decorations – I love to see people’s homes bedecked in lights. Even the smallest effort is appreciated.  It seems to make that Christmasy energy grow. Living here in Minnesota, it’s even more fun to see a tree covered in snow and lights. Sometimes it’s like looking at a greeting card or a photo on Pinterest. Then of course, there’s the interior decorations.  I love nothing more than to sit in a room lit only by the Christmas tree. It makes me feel cozy and happy.

5) Christmas music – I swear I have heard at least 5 different versions of Baby It’s Cold Outside over the past week.  Why this song is being played so much is beyond me…although, it has been VERY cold outside.  Regardless, Christmas music definitely helps get me in the festive spirit.  I’m not sure what my favorite Christmas song is because it seems to change with my mood.  I do enjoy listening to Nat King Cole sing pretty much anything.  Also, Sleigh Ride, the instrumental version and Christmas Time is Here are always high on my to listen list.

Random Thoughts on Christmas Eve

Christmas gift of the wrapped varietyAh, Christmas Eve. My favorite night of the year. Christmas Day is nice, but I’ve always felt that Christmas Eve is more festive. Maybe it’s the anticipation of opening gifts the next day or maybe it’s Santa and his reindeer sprinkling cheer in the air. Christmas Day is the end of it all, while Christmas Eve still leaves one more day to go.

If you haven’t found it, I highly recommend the NORAD Santa Tracker app for your iPhone & Android phone.  Whoever created this software is a genius.  It’s fun to look up and see what random part of the world Santa is visiting.  If you are not mobile-y inclined, they do have a website that does the same thing.  It can be a learning tool too.  If your kids are old enough, you can research information about the countries together and discuss them.  Maybe that’s just something I like because I’m a nerd at heart.

If you are looking for a simple Christmas-y after dinner drink, a tradition in our family is for the adults to have Baileys on the rocks.  It’s so delicious.  They have all these flavored versions now, but we like the original.  It’s like dessert in a glass.

One of my favorite things to watch on Christmas Eve is a little odd. It’s odd because I don’t have any kids. If you get the Sprout Channel, the Snooze-a-thon begins at 4:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. It lasts about 12 hours, so if you find yourself unable to sleep because you are excited about Christmas Day, I highly recommend you watch it regardless of child status.

Basically, it’s a bunch of cartoon characters and puppets sleeping. There is soothing background music. There are no flashes of light. It’s great. Heck, if anything you will probably fall asleep from sheer boredom, but for the past few years, I have been watching this show when 24 Hours of A Christmas Story has proven too stimulating.

OK, this year, my favorite night of the year will be each one I spend with my boyfriend, Paul. Santa finally brought me what I’ve been wanting for all of these years. Took you long enough you jolly old elf!

Top 10 Christmas Songs

While I am currently filled with the holiday spirit, I do not listen to Christmas music on a non-stop loop.  I only listen to it when doing holiday oriented activities like wrapping gifts or baking cookies.  Sometimes when my family sits down to play cards, we will have it on in the background.  OK, I admit to listing to a few carols at work.  I needed something to change my mood or get me through a boring task.

Which leads me to ask, what are your favorite Christmas songs?  According to my iTunes play list, these are the following songs I listen to the most and are probably my favorite:

Holiday Playlist

  1. All I Want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey – Yes, I know.  It’s a guilty pleasure.  What can I say?  I love that cheeseball song.
  2. Run Rudolph Run by Chuck Berry – I always want to call this Run, Run Rudolph because that’s how the song goes.  Either way, it doesn’t really sound like a Christmas song, but I enjoy the 50’s early rock ‘n roll vibe.
  3. The Merriest by June Christy – Whenever I hear this song, I instantly crave a martini.  It makes me want to put on a fancy party dress and walk around with a drink in my hand like some swanky adult.
  4. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole – How can you not love Nat King Cole?  His voice is just wonderful.  It’s just not Christmas until I hear this song.
  5. The Christmas Song by Vince Guaraldi – I pretty much like every song on this soundtrack.  I’m actually surprised that O Tannenbaum didn’t rank higher.  It’s the best part of the show when that song is playing, “It’s not such a bad little tree after all…”
  6. Merry Christmas, Baby by Bonnie Raitt & Charles Brown – I seem to have this thing for the blues, especially when it comes to Christmas music. Again, how another Charles Brown song, Please Come Home for Christmas, didn’t rank higher surprises me.
  7. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee – This is a classic.  I mean I remember being a kid and hearing this song and just loving it.  So how do you dance merrily in the new old-fashioned way?
  8. I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – This song never actually refers to Christmas in anyway, but it does mention December so I guess that’s close.  Either way, it falls into the martini category again and how can you not like either of these two artists?
  9. Happy Holiday by Peggy Lee – Why my iTunes says various artists instead of Peggy Lee baffles me.  This song makes me want to drink a hot toddy in a lodge while watching fools go skiing.  It’s all about the lodge.
  10. Baby It’s Cold Outside by Dean Martin – Have you noticed a pattern to my music choices?  I seem to enjoy music from another era, with the Mariah Carey exception.  This is another classic that requires a martini in my hand while I stare at the Christmas tree and wonder what it will be like to see snow again.

Apocalypse now?

Mostly cloudy with a chance of doom

Mostly cloudy with a chance of doom

The other day someone said, “I think the world was supposed to have ended at least 4 times in my life.”  I think that might be about right.

The thing is that no one ever gets the math correct.  Someone always forgets to carry a one or puts a decimal point in the wrong spot.  Oopsies.

Paul said that he’s going to an End of the World party tomorrow.  While I wonder just what that might entail, I also wonder why such a party wouldn’t be tonight.  I mean, you celebrate the New Year the day before, why wouldn’t you do the same with the Mayan Apocalypse?  All the hub-bub is because the calendar ends, right?  So in a way shouldn’t such a party also be the day before the end?

So far, I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary.  No one on the other side of the Date Line or Prime Meridian has had any issues.  I mean even back in the 80s they would have known by now if something was amiss.  Remember that movie Night of the Comet?  No, of course you don’t.  I’m pretty sure I was the only one who watched it.  In the movie, they were concerned because they had lost communication with the part of the world where Haley’s Comet had already passed.

Then again, weren’t the Mayans in the Central Time Zone?  Not that Time Zones existed when they were beginning their long count or whatever.

I’d say that Night of the Comet and Shaun of the Dead are probably my favorite end of the world type movies.  Maybe I’ll figure out a way to watch those tomorrow.  Or maybe I’ll just enjoy the winter solstice and watch something Christmasy like I usually do at this time of the year, end of the world or not.

Random Thoughts on the 12 Days of Christmas

Christmas TreeHave you ever really paid attention to that song?  It has a ton of birds in it.  I did the math and if you count getting each get on each day, not just one new gift a day, that’s 184 birds.

I guess that begs the question, does the true love give just one new gift each day or is it 1 gift then 2 gifts, then 3 gifts, etc? That’s what I always thought since that’s how the song goes, but most people probably just assumed it was one gift per day that got more and more insane.

I personally prefer the Bob & Doug McKenzie version of the 12 Days of Christmas.  “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a beer.” Beer is way more useful than a partridge in a tree or not.

Then I began to wonder what really are the 12 Days of Christmas.  OK, Bob and Doug sort of asked it, but back then they didn’t have Google and Wikipedia, so I found out that it actually started on Christmas Day and went for 12 days after that.  Unless you look at the Shakespeare play entry and then Twelfth Night was in February.  Confused?  So am I.

All I know is that I don’t want that many (or any) birds for Christmas.

Holiday Fever, Do you have it?

IMG_5650Is it just me or is anyone else having a tough time concentrating? I go into the office and I just want to listen to Christmas music, eat cookies and shop for presents. All of my Christmas shopping is done and I have work to do!

What is wrong with me? I’ve got visions of sugar plums dancing in my head during the day, that can’t be right. Maybe it’s because I’m taking almost two weeks off from work, something I rarely if ever do. In those two weeks, so many things will occur, and no I’m not counting the stupid Mayan Apocalypse, which by all accounts could happen because I always said that the world would probably end if I ever found myself in a relationship.

Miracle of all miracles, I am in a relationship with a great guy, so I really hope the world doesn’t end before I can see him again.  While we won’t see each other on Christmas, we will have a very Happy New Year.  That holiday is quickly becoming my favorite only because I will get to spend it with Paul.

But there is also Christmas, which I always love. Every year I enjoy it in a different way because I watch my nephews get excited about it. I remember the feeling of anticipation, the excitement at wondering what Santa left me under the tree and I get to relive it through them.

Of course, there is also all of the celebrations. My sister, my mom and I always go out together for a special holiday dinner just the three of us. We go to a restaurant in Sacramento with great food, enjoy some fancy cocktails, and other variations of holiday cheer.

The Festivus Tweetup is on Tuesday and various work function will occur throughout the week. Not to mention Pre-Christmas Eve taco party with friends, Christmas Eve with family and then Christmas Day with more family. It’s the food, wine and good times that I enjoy the most in the holiday season. I just want the fun to begin now!