Since I was working all day, Seanie was tasked with finishing our Christmas shopping (just some odd bits 'n' ends had to be picked up) and wrapping the gifts. When I got home after we closed the bookstore at 4:30, he had the stack of presents destined for my parents' house nearly ready to go. I wrapped a few stragglers and tied the parcels up with ribbon.
Poor Seanie. He's been struggling with a cold for the last few days, and it was getting worse tonight. He was tired, sniffling, and groggy. But it's Christmas! He couldn't stay home and rest and miss the celebration.
Mom had been busy cooking all day. There was lamb cooked with rosemary, with mint sauce. Donna made scalloped potatoes and a rich spiced rum. (That was such a good drink. It warmed me to the tips of my toes.) For vegetables there were green beans and carrots. My uncle brought our traditional jello salad and my brother picked up a chocolate cake from Paris Baguette for dessert. (I'm so glad Kenny thought to do so - it was my responsibility to bring dessert, but since I've been at work so much this week it completely slipped my mind. Christmas won't be Christmas without something sweet!) There was so much to eat, and all of it was delicious.
After dinner, Daddy had to run over to church to pick up the evening service's offerings. He's the church's treasurer, and he takes his responsibilities seriously. While he was gone, we played a card game called Santa's Bag. You collect cards representing different supplies needed to build toys for Santa, and earn points by pleasing children by making them the gift they want for Christmas. It's a fun game that's easy to learn. We convinced my uncle and mother (against their protests) to play, and by the second round they were dominating the game. It was the perfect way to burn off a some post-feast calories.
Well, it was great for most of us. Poor Seanie's cold was catching up with him so he took a nap on the couch.
When Daddy came home we ate cake and opened presents.
Donna, rock star that she is, gave Seanie and me the one thing I desperately wanted for Christmas: Hamilton tickets. When the show comes to San Francisco next year, we'll be seeing it! She also got me some cool bookish covers for my throw pillows and a blonde She-Ra wig, because I'm always saying I want to dress up as She-Ra for Halloween, just like I did back when I was a kid. Seanie and I had gotten her a Doctor Who coat, with the Tardis embroidered on the hem in gold thread, a Disney dress with villain silhouettes hidden in a tangle of thorns, and two books (both of which she already but luckily they'll be easy to exchange).
My uncle gave me a silver dollar from 1872. It's so cool! He said my grandmother had been saving a pair of silver dollars, one for my brother and one for me. He also gave Seanie a newer silver dollar that he'd picked out, writing in the accompanying card that "Yours came from Grandma's heart, Sean's is from mine". It was the perfect lovely and sentimental gift, and a really cool historical piece. He also gave us Chinese beef jerky, which is softer and more moist than the Western version. I haven't tried it yet but I'm really curious about it. I got him Atlas Obscura, an incredibly cool book about all sorts of unusual places around the world. He'd heard an interview with the author of the book on the radio, so he was already familiar with it, which was good.
Mom, traveler extraordinaire, had gathered bits and pieces from her world wandering for our Christmas bags. It was an eclectic selection: a warm knit hats, a heavy necklace of many strands of seed beads, a pirate t-shirt, and a collection of winter teas. She'd also thrown in some cash and some gift cards to local restaurants and a giraffe sweatshirt for Seanie. It was like a never-ending treasure chest of surprises. She had requested a set of matching place settings to use during the holidays, so our gift wasn't very exciting but we knew she wanted it. I also gave her a novel set in Paris and some Matisse-themed socks.
Dad likes to keep Christmas simple, so he gave us a box of chocolates from a fancy candy shop in Los Gatos. Aunt Fanny had sent a box of Belgian chocolates down for us, so Seanie and I are going to be well-stocked on sweets for a long time...or at least a week. Daddy's always fun to shop for, because we buy him an assortment of beers and he happily drinks his way through the collection for the next month. This time, we also got him an audio version of Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton biography since I know he's been interested in that book. We sent a tea assortment home with my uncle to pass on to Fanny.
My brother had found an Elfquest board game, an utterly fantastic gift. Elfquest is one of my favorite comic books and as kids we devoured the graphic novels whenever Mom took us to the library. It'll be so much fun to play the game with him and Donna and Seanie. He also gave me a Mulan Christmas ornament; I hope that our house will be clean enough next year so we can decorate for Christmas and hang the ornament on a tree. We got Kenny the Ghostbusters expansion for Lego Dimensions, a t-shirt with Skeletor on it, and a fossil-themed board game that I got through Kickstarter.
The night ran much later than usual, but it was a lot of fun. Well, I had a blast. Poor Seanie was feeling pretty crummy because of his cold, but he did his best to keep up with the festivities. He was relieved to go home and pass out - especially since my family's quiet, serene Christmas is only a prelude to the holiday bonanza at the Buckleys on Christmas Day.