So Christmas Eve.
It was a pretty quiet day, overall. Sean and I spent much of the morning packing for our Florida trip and waiting anxiously for the mail, since we had several Christmas gifts still swimming in the postal system. When the mail came and the present for Sean's oldest brother still hadn't shown up, we had to jump onto the phone and try to track down a hardcover box set of The Chronicles of Narnia series. It was surprisingly difficult; I guess the books are out of print now in hardcover form. So we called every B&N and Borders in the area with no luck. Sean ended up rushing out to buy a Star Trek movie so we'd have something to put under the tree, at least.
Side note: Crikey, Christmas is expensive this year. Even without buying presents for Sean's uncle and aunt, we must have spent around $50+ for everyone in his family. We can't do that again next year. It's just too much money. My family wasn't nearly to so expensive - fewer people, spent less on each person - but it's hard not to go overboard with Buckleys. Sean's mom spends so much money on Christmas gifts, so you end up spending just a little more so you can feel like you're at least in the ballpark of what she spends...but unless Sean and I get infinitely better jobs next year, we have to cut the spending waaaaaaaay back.
At 2:00, we went to the Christmas Eve service at Venture Christian with my Aunt Tanya. There was a lot of singing of traditional songs, and a very generic sort of Christmas sermon. My favorite part of Christmas services growing up was always the Christmas Pageant, and they managed to have one, but it was super fast-forwarded. I doubt the kids were on the stage, in their costumes, longer than four-five minutes. Disappointing.
My uncle came down from San Francisco for Christmas dinner. This year, Mom decided to mix things up a bit, and made lamb. I can't remember the last time we've eaten lamb for any meal, let alone Christmas. It's definitely more interesting than another turkey. But one can't eat lamb without mint jelly - at least, that's how we always ate it - so Sean and I ended up braving the Christmas Eve crowds to get the jelly. We had to go to a couple of grocery stores, because someone else was actually buying mint jelly and the local Lucky's was sold out. Weird.
Uncle Tom also decided to revive an old tradition this year, and made "Eyeball Salad," a Jung holiday tradition. It's a jello salad, filled with fruit, with white lychee fruit floating on top. A cherry is stuffed inside each lychee, so they look like red eyeballs staring up at you. It's a really weird tradition, now that I think about it, but it's the dessert we've always had. My grandmother made it every year until she passed away. Here's a picture of Uncle Tom's version:
Now I know why Popo always used green jello for the top layer. It looks like a bloodbath there!
Our Christmas seems so quiet compared to Sean's family. We gather, eat dinner, and then disperse once more. I mean, Uncle Tom showed me some of the projects he's working on back in San Francisco - right now he's a volunteer photographer for a regional newsletter, so he gets into a lot of cool museums and galas to take pictures - and it's always fun, but it isn't boisterous like Buckley holidays.
Not that I mind. It's nice to have the contrast.
We exchanged a few gifts before bed, and did the rest this morning. My brother got me a Cookie Monster because I'm always demanding sweets:
I gave him a couple of books he wanted. I gave my Dad a t-shirt from Threadless and Sean picked up some Cliff bars for him. We gave Mom a canvas Alphonse Mucha print for the kitchen (even with a Groupon, that was the most expensive gift we gave this year!) and she got me a tea / hot chocolate set:
Yes, it's in the shape of a Hershey's Kiss. We are just that kind of tacky.
Really: our Christmas Tree lights are shaped like M&M's.
Mom gave all the guys warm shirts. Dad's present doesn't come in a box - his Christmas gift to my brother and I consists of paying our cell phone bills and our car insurance...which, when you think about it, is a pretty nice gift. Kendrick also got my mom some wall art, so she now has to figure out where to put it. It's OK. For the first time, she'll actually be home today. Normally, she and Dad would be in a car, driving down to Southern California, but since my grandfather passed away...well, she's not going anywhere. Later, she and Dad will go see The King's Speech while I'm up at the Buckley's. It's a different sort of Christmas than they've been used to.