By Alyce Wilson
December 29, 2006 - Diva Dogs
On Christmas morning, we actually got to sleep in a little. We were spending the day at my sister and her husband's place in Bellefonte, and she had told us to arrive at about 11 a.m.
So we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with Dad, got showers and packed up our cars for the journey, which went smoothly.
My sister and her husband had gone all out with the Christmas decorations, including a very nice tree, of which I managed only a blurry picture.
We had a good group: in addition to my sister and her husband, Dad, The Gryphon and me, and my Mom, we were joined by the pastor and her two sons, my sister's brother-in-law plus a friend and his partner.
We also had several animal guests, including my sister's dog, Emma, who is my dog, Una's sister; my sister's cats, Beanie and Ludo; my dog, Una; and the brother-in-law's dog, Peewee.
I immediately got the dogs in the hallway and put Santa hats on all of them, to the amusement of guests. They didn't stay on for long, though. Peewee. is an attention hog, and he immediately hopped up on The Gryphon's lap. Over the course of the day, I think he sat on nearly everyone's lap.
Because we had so many people, we decided to start a new tradition. Ever since we were little kids, we would open gifts one at a time, going around the room from youngest to oldest. It was fine when it was just our parents and three siblings, but there are multiple problems with this method once you include more people. It tends to draw out the process.
Instead, we took Mom's suggestion and went around the room, each person opening all of their gifts at once. That way, people got to see their reaction to the gifts they'd given, and yet it made things move more quickly.
Also at my sister's suggestion, I didn't take pictures of people opening gifts, which tends to slow down the process. Instead, I took candid pictures of people enjoying their day. My sister got this pic, for example, or me and The Gryphon, which I like even though it's backlit.
I got a lot of really thoughtful gifts from my family, including some surprises, such as a beautiful handmade yet tasteful fitted T-shirt from my sister and her husband, and an iPod from my Dad. My Mom got me some items from my Amazon.com list, including some albums of music I'd like to have played at our wedding reception. The Pastor, who knits, made me a wonderful scarf, which I immediately donned with my outfit.
After the gift opening ended, we called my brother and spoke to him and his family, passing around the phone while my sister, her husband, and The Gryphon got food prepared for dinner.
There was plenty of food to eat until they were ready, including lots of goodies like cookies and brownies, which the brother-in-law and his friends had brought. I am embarrassed to admit I really threw my diet out the window and splurged. Surprisingly, instead of gaining, I actually lost a pound and a half this week.
My sister's husband
You might think it would be strange to spend Christmas with people you'd never met before, namely the brother-in-law's friends, but they were very gracious guests and a lot of fun, besides. I'll nickname them The Rocker and The Model, because one the brother-in-law's buddy is a music fan, especially of jam bands; whereas his partner has done professionally modeling work, primarily for catalogues.
Unfortunately, the weather refused to cooperate. With a steady rain coming down outside and the temperatures threatening to fall, leading to icy roads, Mom and the Pastor's family had to get on the road before dinner was ready. They did sample some of the side dishes before they go, but I could see Mom was concerned.
We hugged her good-bye and wished her safe travels, agreeing that maybe next year we'd plan on eating sooner to avoid potential travel difficulties.
Dinner was roast beef, chicken, mashed potatoes, salad and asparagus, and it truly hit the spot, along with some wine provided by both Dad and my sister. They packed some of it up in containers for Dad to take home for Mom the next day.
Afterwards, my sister and I engaged in one of our favorite activities: taking silly pictures, such as this one of The Gryphon showing off his store brand soda.
And of course, Peewee. was happy to pose for pictures with anyone who would hold him, such as my Dad.
And of course, with The Model, who agreed to do a model pose for me.
My sister took it to a whole new level, but Peewee. was game.
For our shot, Peewee. and I relaxed in a chair by the Christmas tree.
So that she wouldn't feel left out, The Gryphon did a glamor shot with Una, who had trouble concentrating.
And he also posed for one with all three dogs. Emma took advantage of the situation.
When the photo sesh was done, we spent plenty of time socializing with everyone, talking about such things as music, pop culture and our various interests. I had a great time talking to everyone, especially The Model, who is a very outgoing guy with a wry sense of humor.
Then, with a couple hours to go before my evening assignments, my sister and her husband broke out a game, Apples to Apples. I'd played it before with some friends last year at New Year's, and it's a fun game. Everyone gets cards with nouns, ranging from celebrities like Michael Jackson to things like "driving to Grandma's". Each person takes a turn being the judge, where they flip over an adjective, such as "sparkly." Everyone has to select a card from their hand they feel matches the best. The judge decides which one wins, and they collect the adjective. The winner is the first to collect seven adjectives.
We played the game twice, the second time matching adjectives to nouns, which went more quickly. We laughed ourselves silly at the various pairings, which also went for humor value.
Then I had to go upstairs to the office to do my evening assignments, and those who weren't staying there went home. By the time I finished, it was just The Gryphon downstairs, wrapped in a quilt and watching TV with Una. He had very sweetly inflated our mattress and made up the bed, so when we both fell asleep on the couch, we just had to move over and get some sleep.
The next morning, I got up to say good-bye to my sister and Dad, who had to head out early. We socialized a little with my sister's husband before getting on the road for home. Before I did, I took this self-portrait in my sister's mirror.
at this picture, I'm reminded that my sister took me aside at one point
and told me she really thinks that my new haircut and new glasses look
cute. It's nice to hear.
2006 by Alyce Wilson