The title for this post comes from My So-Called Life. PJ and I have been watching the series again on dvd. Today we watched the Christmas episode. Early on, Danielle (the main character’s younger sister, who has become my favorite character this time around) is tired of her family talking about whether they believe in God and why they don’t go to church (a conversation instigated by Angela) so she asks, “Can we stop talking about religion now? … It’s Christmas!” In a sense, this statement ironically sums up the episode’s commentary about the holiday: that it’s not really about church-based religion but should instead be about people learning to really care about their fellow human beings (in this case, homeless and abused teens, lonesome neighbors, etc.). Or something like that.

I started blogging so I could keep track of my thoughts and impressions on various aspects of my life — movies, books, teaching, travel, etc. This Christmas was quite a bit different from years past, so I definitely think it warrants a brief commemoration. It was so much better than last year, the worst Christmas ever, though I didn’t write about it in those terms at the time, which raises an interesting question about the ethics of blogging that I should write about at some point.

I’ve always thought that Christmas was just for kids — the presents, the cookies, Santa Claus, bad t.v. specials, etc. The transition from me being excited about Christmas to my little sister being excited (she’s 9 years younger than me) was an easy one. Once we both grew up, the holiday didn’t seem very special. Now that I’m in my early late thirties, I can’t say that I find Christmas all that exciting. On the one hand, I hate traveling in the Christmas season. All the hustle and bustle, combined with everyone else’s travel stress, doesn’t appeal to me at all. And I’m at a point in my life when I want to be in my home with my loved one at Christmas.

On the other hand, the whole presents thing is overrated. I’m not particularly good at buying people great presents, and I usually have no idea what I’d like to receive on Christmas morning, though that doesn’t stop me from being vaguely disappointed anyway. The best gift, the truest gift, is the companionship and love I share with PJ every day — nothing in a box is ever really going to compare with that. And while presents are really supposed to be expressions of love and affection, in reality there are other kinds of expressions that I appreciate and crave much more.

Writing about presents reminds me of a great clip from John Waters’ Female Trouble that I ran across this week:

I think this is my fantasy Christmas morning! Wouldn’t it be great to be able to throw a fit if you didn’t get exactly what you wanted!? Maybe it’s just me, but I would love to yell, “What are these?”, sometime after opening a box.

christmas tree 07

That said, I really enjoyed our Christmas this year. In large measure this is because we spent it with friends, Johnnie and Kathee. What’s more, we had them over for dinner at our house, something we’ve never done on Christmas before. We’ve stayed in town before and had dinner at other friends’ houses, but it felt different, more special, that we were able to host this year.

To get in the spirit, we decided to decorate our tree differently this year. We have a fake tree so that Marlowe won’t spray it. In the past, we’ve just thrown a bunch of ornaments and tinsel on it. This year we thought about it before we did it and decided to limit our ornaments to shades of blue, silver, and white — snowy colors. This picture doesn’t really do it justice, but it’s the best one that I took. (I’m still not much of a wiz when it comes to photography, though I thought the San Antonio pictures were great!)

We also made Christmas cookies, some sugar cookies and some spritz cookies. My mom makes tons of cookies every year, so I always have fantasies of cranking out dozens and dozens of cookies and sharing them with friends. It’s a nice fantasy, but it’s probably not going to happen any time soon. Here’s Kathee’s picture of some of the cookies:

Christmas cookies

We started with green and pink frosting but soon got bored with them so we move on to more festive and vibrant ones inspired by Passion Works, in colors like orange and purple.

And finally, the biggest thing we did was cook the turkey. This was my first attempt at cooking a turkey ever, so I was really worried about how it would turn out. Kathee recommended getting one in a bag, which keeps the turkey moist as you cook it. It turned out great (though I need to learn how to carve it a little more gingerly!). I also made some wild rice stuffing, and PJ made a great dish of candied sweet potatoes. Johnnie brought a delicious pumpkin-pecan pie, and Kathee brought a beautiful salad and a tasty green bean dish, which I loved and thought was the best dish. You can also read Kathee’s impressions of our Christmas meal on her food blog, Cakeypal’s Savory Morsels. One of our topics of conversation that evening was food blogging. I really want to blog about restaurants and food but have only done so on a limited basis so far. She’s inspired me to start doing it more often. So look forward soon to my coverage of the salads of Athens, to name just one example.

We’re only just getting to know Kathee, and I feel a little badly that we spent too much of the evening talking about various OU English department related things. Next time we have them over, we’ll have to pay more attention to including everyone in the conversation! But I nevertheless had a great time. It’s fun to be in this time of my life — an adult who has adult friends over for this kind of holiday, a good meal, and conversation. We didn’t have to play board games or watch t.v. to make the time go by (though those activities can be fun too). We could just enjoy being together.

So now I’m kind of looking forward to next Christmas. I think the thing I’m looking forward to most next year is creating a Christmas mix CD volume 2! 🙂