Empty Spaces

Yesterday afternoon we removed Christmas from our house. The walls, shelves and floor space are abundantly empty. It feels barren and spacious. It’s all sorts of creepy.

Our home looked so festive throughout December. It felt warm and inviting. Not to mention joyous as well.

Now it’s stark and devoid of life. But as we do quite often- it’s time to rearrange our furniture and knickknacks. During this time we will purge some stuff that we don’t want or need anymore. It always feels good to do that.

Have you De-Christmased your home yet? How does it make you feel?

Rich and Egg-citing Foods

The winter season is all about food. Yesterday I mentioned Leftovers and previously I wrote about Christmas Baking. But there are other rich foods that I love and only enjoy this time of year.

Egg Nog.

The thick, sweet, dairy product that makes me feel bloated with joy. As an adult I have moved on from adding dark rum to this beverage. Now I mix it with Fireball or Gingerbread Rum. It makes my insides feel like I’m getting tipsy on what Christmas should taste like.

Deviled Eggs

Oh my. I could eat a plate of these little creamed yoke treats. But my brain knows that my body would be unhappy afterwards. So one, maybe two, are enjoyed. A simple delicacy that was often found at picnics or potlucks of the 70’s and 80’s. Now they dawn our table at Christmas. Our son made these ones and they turned out delicious- as always.

What rich foods to you over indulge with over Christmas?

Holiday Leftovers

We enjoyed a variety of food over the Winter Solstice, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day that we do not need to prepare meals for the next few days.

Half of our fridge is filled with storage containers of a variety of foods. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cheeses, meats, desserts and all of the other sides that went with the meals. If the kids get hungry- they can mix and match the leftovers.

Yesterday and today I’ve been working on a turkey soup as well. Boiling the remainder of meat off the bones. It has created an excellent aroma in our home that adds a coziness to our castle. That’s tomorrow night’s lunch/dinner. Later today we will make what we call “Turkey Slop”. Mashed potatoes, gravy and turkey meat all mixed together in a pot. I cannot wait to enjoy it this evening.

Did you make an abundance of food over the holidays? Do you enjoy leftovers as well? Let me know in the comments what you do with your turkey leftovers.

That’s Mine!

Seeing my name on the gifts that my family gave me this Christmas made me feel very loved. Knowing that they took the time to purchase or make the gifts they felt were in my best interest was very kind of them.

As much as I think that Christmas is for our children, I still enjoy opening gifts. The anticipation and surprise that is associated with gift giving appeals to me. Giving and receiving has its emotional benefits.

We may not have gotten spoiled this year with an abundance of presents, but we did have a great time sharing with one another. Seeing the joy in my children as I unwrapped their gifts to me was almost better than the joy I saw when they unwrapped their gifts from my wife and I.

Maybe this is the dawning of a new way of gifting to one another. More joy being shared instead of just stuff. My hope is that our children feel it is better to give than receive. I think my wife and I have done a good job raising kind and caring young adults. That’s the gift that keeps on giving.

2019 Good Gift of Christmas

Yesterday morning was our calmest Christmas ever. The kids were still just as excited as ever and emotions stayed on the happy side of the spectrum.

Unwrapping of the gifts went smoothly and we shared with one another what Santa brought. Some clothes, a few toys, and gadgets that the kids (and me) wanted. It was a successful Christmas.

Not every Christmas can be knocked out of the park like we have in the past. Like last year’s Video Games , Tokyo Trip 2017, or 2016’s Musical Instruments. This year and going into next year has us on a tighter budget as our kids have many activities and travel expenses coming.

Because our kids are teenagers now, they have a better understanding of reality than they did as kids. We still celebrated and hung out playing video games and watching some Disney Classics like “Flight of the Navigator” and “The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes.” Spending time together was my favorite gift.

It was a good day

It’s Christmas Time

Last night our son wanted to help with dinner, so I had him make pretty much all of it. And it turned out delicious. We made schnitzel together. It was the first time he has helped to make it.

It’s the dinner I had every Christmas Eve growing up. I’m not sure why, but schnitzel at Christmas always tastes better than schnitzel any other time. Last night was even tastier because of it being made by our thirteen year old.

Carrying on traditions and engaging our children in them makes me happy. We have many other traditions that we keep up with. But this dinner is my favorite.

What do you have for dinner at Christmas? Have you shared with your children how to prepare and cook meals? Let me know in the comments.

And Merry Christmas to one and all!

Christmas Eve 2019

Ah Christmas Eve Day. There’s last minute shopping, plans for dinner and tomorrow’s morning rituals. Is it worthwhile? I like to think so.

I plan on finishing my day at work, drive home a bit more cautiously than usual and relax to some Christmas music. I’ll get home and listen to some more Christmas music while I make dinner with my wife. We will probably play a video game or watch a film as a family before retiring for the night.

My calm evening will lead into a calm day. I am appreciative of all the preparations that my family has done ahead of time to make Christmas go smoothly. Sometimes the expectations are too high. Not every Christmas can get knocked out of the park. I guess we shall see what tomorrow brings.

Have a great evening with family and friends!

Christmas Vacation 2019

Today the kids start their winter break away from school. And as we do every year- we start it with a viewing of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation“. A classic film filled with perfect comedic timing. Also some wicked quotes that you can say and everyone knows where it’s from.

At least our Christmas Vacation is different than what the film portrays.

Today we announced to the kids that they are only going to be allowed thirty minutes each day on their phones. As well, if they want to play video games or watch tv it has be to with at least one other person. They are going to spend quality time together!

If you have kids- I hope that you have a great Christmas Vacation with them. It’s all about those family memories and creating traditions that will last a lifetime.

One Week Remains

It’s getting down to crunch time! Only one shopping week remains to get that special gift for your special someone. Unless you are in a perfect relationship like I am- where my wife said to me, “You don’t have to get me anything for Christmas.”

That is not what I wanted to hear. I’m fairly certain that she’s lying. I’m no good at guessing games. So if she dropped hints all year long- its likely that I missed them.

My wife did however buy herself a few items and give them to me to wrap. I guess not knowing which gift is inside which wrap is good enough? At this stage in life, one may as well buy what they want and gift it to themselves. That way you’re not disappointed and display “Present Face” for those not-so-amazing gifts.

In the past I’ve bought her jewelry she doesn’t wear and craft supplies she doesn’t use. I’ve even picked up kitchen knives and dishes in the past. These are more for everyone, but I throw her name on them so she has something to unwrap.

Yup, Christmas gift giving to my wife has me turning into a husband cliché. I’m not sure how to break the cycle. Maybe one Christmas I’ll nail it. Until then, I wonder how late Walmart is open?

Sisters Forever

A couple of years ago we discovered the joy of Andrews Sisters Jing-a-Ling on a drive home from the school. Our daughters enjoy the song and love to sing with it. It has become a staple in our Christmas music playing.

Our two girls seem to always get along this time of year. Last week when we were decorating, the two of them were loving and caring. Hugs and silliness abound. Seeing them get along like this warms my heart.

I know that over the next few years life will change. Our teenagers will become adults. They will grow up and move on in their own ways. I don’t want to look towards the future with a heavy heart. Instead I am trying to enjoy the moments we have now because these will soon become a distant memory.

And just like when we discovered the Andrews Sisters, I will become pleasantly surprised when my memories resurface once more through music and photos of yesteryear.

Enjoy the now- it’s a gift of joy. I guess that’s why it’s called The Present.

First One Out

I thought I was doing so well this year. Last night at dinner my family and I were talking about Whamageddon and how many covers there are out there. How each time a cover came o the radio, we were sure that we lost the game.

I lost the game early this morning. I got into my car and drove to work. I turned on the radio and listened to the news station. For about twenty minutes I received updates on the world and my traffic commute. Since I was driving my daughter’s car I switched over to the FM stations in hopes to listen to some loud classic rock music.

As soon as I hit the FM button, I heard “Last Christmas” just begin. It was as if the universe knew that I was to lose the game today. A large sigh and acceptance that I now had nothing left to fear from Christmas music, I let the song play out it’s familiar theme.

I even sang along.

Are you playing along with Whamageddon? Have you lasted this far into the month without hearing the original Wham! Song? Let me know in the comments.

Natural Decorating

I love decorating our home for Christmas. One of my favorite styles is keeping it “Country Living”. I utilize nature as much as possible.

In the past I have used fallen branches as a part of our decor. Hanging them from under the skylight or adorning our main entryway. Using natural branches also means that every year the decorating changes.

I have even made tealight holders from the thicker branches. I finished them off with some red burlap string and modpodge glue in order to keep their sheen.

This year my wife suggested we use some holly branches. She loves the look of the red holly berries against the vibrant greenery. Holly, just like pine trees, keep their colours for quite some time. But once the season is over- they become brittle and dry.

I’m loving that each year we modify our decorating just a little bit and that I use nature to do it.

What do you make at Christmas?

The Family Saturday

Today was a long day filled with some quality family time. Quality time is something that I treasure whenever we can get it.

It started with early morning speed skating training, followed by a free movie at the theater. It was Community Day so we took in a classic film- “A Christmas Story” to start our season right. By far one of my most favorite films. Seeing it in the theater added a new ambiance to the film and legitimate out loud laughs by the audience.

The film was over around lunch. We came straight home, did a quick tidy/clean before settling in to a favorite family activity. It’s the first Saturday after my wife’s birthday, so that meant decorations for our trees were to go up!

Loads of fun, dancing, singing and smiles were had. It helped that my wife and I had cookies and Firenog as well. Today is a day that our oldest loves to be a part of and willingly gets her picture taken with a smile!

We have three trees, so the kids rotate which topper they put up. It’s the first year I haven’t lifted anyone up to do it. It’s also the first year that my wife did this:

She broke an ornament! It’s not Christmas until at least one ornament explodes.

Bad Christmas Jokes

We have a small winter chalkboard hung up in our kitchen. Every year we would write a countdown to Christmas Morning on it. After that would be salutations like “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” Or “HAPPY NEW YEARS“. This year I started it off with a joke instead.

A classic style of dad joke. “The Christmas alphabet has Noel.” Not funny but worthy of a groan. It was up for about a week or so until someone changed it. Still no countdown though. Seems like I may have started a new tradition. Out came another joke.

Why does Santa have a big sack? He only comes once a year.

Oh my. This was written by our 17 year old daughter. I laughed pretty hard at it because it was unexpected. She doesn’t normally tell jokes of this caliber. However, the playing field has been set and the bar is raised. Time to share more Lewdmas humor. I wonder how far these jokes will get.

Ghost of Christmas Present

Waking up mid afternoon after working a night shift can be bad enough. Having the house empty when you sleep usually means there’s no one to wake you- so you constantly wake and check the time to make sure you didn’t oversleep. So sleep gets broken up.

I woke up to hear noises downstairs. My brain knew that no one was supposed to be here. Maybe it was the dog? Perhaps someone stayed home?

Nope.

Turns out my family left the Christmas Music radio station on. What I heard was Christmas classics faintly echoing through the house. Those joyous hits were scaring the poop out of me.

I think my family left the station on in hopes that I would lose Whamageddon 2019 on day one!

Are You Ready For Whamageddon 2019?

December 1st is coming up. That means it’s time start the annual Whamageddon Challenge.

This game has been going on since roughly 2010 according to Wikipedia. The rules are pretty simple:

  • The player must go as long as possible without hearing Wham!’s Christmas song, “Last Christmas”
  • The game starts on the 1st of December and ends midnight of the 24th of December
  • Only the original version of “Last Christmas” applies, the player can listen to remixes and covers of the song
  • The player is out as soon as they recognise the original version of the song
  • The player must post “#Whamageddon” on social media as soon as they lose the game
  • Seems fairly straightforward. I have yet to make it to December 24th. I’m trying to get all the listenings in of the song already before the game starts. The easiest way to win would be to avoid all Christmas Music Stations. But I enjoy Christmas Music and shops may have a way of catching you off guard. Because as soon as you recognize the song- you lose.
  • Let’s do this people! See how long you last.
  • Wish List Time

    Christmas is on the horizon- so that means gift giving and holiday cheer. The holiday cheer part is getting into full swing at our home. Minus the music… that starts at the beginning of December. Oh and Christmas Trees- we have numerous trees that go up starting December 7th. I’m getting off topic… let’s talk “Wish Lists”.

    As a child, I remember filling a page of dreams, or rather filling it with stuff that my young mind thought I needed. Video games, Transformers, remote control cars, or whatever toy was popular. Up until we had three kids, I still made a list. It turned into an adult list involving housewares, tools, and small appliances. Now I make those purchases myself and get exactly what I need or want.

    Wish lists always have been filled with hopes. An idealistic vision of what would make your life complete. But if you don’t get everything on the list, there can be a sense of disappointment. As parents, the lists can be beneficial. You want to give your kids so much in life, but you also have to make sure they get what they need. Going into debt over material stuff isn’t a good idea though.

    Our kids have lists. It’s smattered with things they think would make their lives fulfilled. Things like books, pens, art supplies and music are topping the list. Knowing that they want to create more than consume makes me happy. I’m not quite sure where or when it changed, but I’ll gladly support their artistic side.

    I’m sure Santa will support it as well- if you know what I mean.

    What’s on your wish list? Do you set limits on what your kids ask for? How much stuff is too much stuff?

    Let me know in the comments.

    Creepy Santa: The Revenge

    I mentioned that we have this little tradition called “Creepy Santa” recently. Our oldest daughter has been finding it amusing to try and “get me” with him. Earlier this week she was trying to psych me out.

    “Do you think Creepy Santa knows when you have to work?”

    Naturally I expected to find him in my car. Only for two days he wasn’t anywhere to be found. Until the one day I went to feed the dog for our daughter. There was Creepy Santa- waiting by the dog food. Our daughter knew exactly when I’d find it but made it difficult to decipher her scare tactics. Later that night- Creepy Santa was hiding under our en-suite bathroom peering out through a slight crack in the door. He watched me get changed into my pajamas like a peeping tom.

    Today I made sure to take photos of Creepy Santa in places that our daughter would be likely to see him. On the stairs, by her laptop, in her bed… I had our other daughter post them to the Creepy Santa Instagram at lunch. I’m hoping that our oldest sees them.

    I added a bit of flair today to increase the build up to the reveal. A ransom letter of sorts with the caption inside “I know when you’re at home asleep, or on wifi watching videos and at your fish shop awake.” I arrived early at the school to put the card inside her car.

    My favorite part? Creepy Santa made a journey to her place of work today. My daughter’s coworkers were kind enough to take him in and hide him at the back of the store. This should make for an unknown reaction from our daughter. I’m waiting to find out which way this goes when she gets home at dinner. It could be humorous or I could be in big trouble.

    Seems like I know the answer.

    The Return of Creepy Santa

    ‘It’s the season… for The Return of Creepy Santa.

    Over the last couple of years, “Creepy Santa” has been stalking our home and family. He was found on the side of the road ages ago and entered our hallway one morning. Since then, he has snuck up numerous times every year scaring each member of our home. Hiding in places such as closets, beds, outside windows, even in the fridge one time.

    No one knew where Creepy Santa had disappeared to after the holidays last year. Turns out that throughout the year- Creepy Santa hid in our walls beside our fireplace. Today he emerged once more.

    Cleanliness is next to Claus-liness. Even Creepy Santa needed some time in the tub after hanging out with cobwebs and insects. He is getting ready once more for some creeping about.

    You can follow his antics on Instagram Hohoho Horror as he torments our family for another year.

    Utilizing The Weather

    It’s another beautiful day on the West Coast. I decided to make the most of it and get some “winterizing” done. I headed to the gas station and filled a large jerrycan for future use in our backup Generator in case of a power failure. Our one daughter filled six yard waste cans with leaves and our other daughter cleared off the roof and driveway.

    Then I did the unthinkable.

    I put up our Christmas Lights.

    I figured I might as well do this chore while the weather is warm instead of waiting until December. The lights won’t be going on until then. But why not put them up ahead of time? I’m also not the type of person who leaves the lights up year round.

    Either myself or my daughter are up on our roof every couple of weeks blowing leaves and pine needles off as it is. So taking a few moments today made sense to check the downspouts and put up those lights. I was able to enjoy a bit of quiet contemplation time on the roof. There’s something calming about autumn when you get to enjoy a few hours of beautiful sun and crisp air.

    Now to head back inside and pour a nice cup of tea while we listen to music.

    Thank You Halloween. Until Next Year.

    Last night was a ton of fun. Our teens made their rounds with friends and ended up with a good haul of candy. The weather was not too bad for this time of year and the streets were fairly crowded.

    My costume was also a huge success. Many adults commenting on how it brought them back to their childhood. Some kids thinking I was a vulture. But in the end I didn’t scare any kids which was good. I shared a short video of my costume dancing on Instagram: Skesis Dance.

    Since Halloween is over, I have already packed up all of our decorations before lunch. Now to do some vacuuming and dusting before the Christmas Decorations come out! I love being festive during this time of year!

    Did you enjoy Halloween?

    Have you already started to decorate for Christmas?

    Please tell me I’m not the only one!

    Bye-bye Christmas

    Today I took down all of our Christmas decorations. No more garland, Santas, stockings or trees. All of it packed away for another 10 months. Having a large home that we want to fill with joy has one incredible drawback.

    Storage.

    Its like playing a game of Tetris as we try and remember how everything was packed up. That just for putting the items into boxes. Afterwards was trying to hide it all away in closets and any available space. Our home doesn’t have a ton of storage space available. I have to take the time to put things in logical places as we will require them. Currently, Christmas goes in the back. Then Halloween decorations are in front of that. And right up front is things we may need for camping and traveling. Time consuming to say the least.

    Hopefully our stuff remains glittery and undamaged in their storage spots. Nothing worse than finding busted up items and faded memories next Christmas season.

    When do you take down the holidays at your place?

    What I Didn’t Get For Christmas

    Sometimes you just don’t get what you want for Christmas. Of course Christmas is a time of giving; But receiving is pretty sweet as well. I’ve tried to drop hints to my family over the years. I guess my subtlety was overlooked– Most likely ignored.

    I had a wonderful Christmas, as I do every year. With good laughs and lots of love being spread. I don’t want to sound ungrateful. However, maybe next year Santa could find room in his sleigh for one of these items I’d kinda like:

    I have been wanting a large 3D Printer for ages. Maybe not that large. But still, I love movie replicas. I see this as a way of doing it as a hobby with the idea of making my own movie replica props. Full size Han Solo in Carbonite? Yes please!

    Speaking of movie props, on my list is the Leg Lamp with crate from the film “A Christmas Story”. I have wanted this for nearly three decades. Ever since I first saw the film as a teenager. It screams Christmas to me. Yes, my wife has known I have wanted it but refuses to buy it. She’s kinda like Ralphie’s mom in that aspect.

    See that watch Elvis is wearing? There’s just something about the design of a Hamilton Ventura wrist watch. I’m not a watch guy, but this is the piece I have always wanted. Forget Rolex, that’s way out of my price range, or the trendy 1980’s Casio calculator watch (I had one of those at one point as a kid)- a Hamilton Ventura is where it’s at.

    I have many other things I have hinted at that are just regular items, like a sawzall or outdoor speakers, but this dad just seems to get ignored. Honestly, I’m okay with that. All of these items I’ve mentioned, I could just go out and get myself. That’s not what Christmas is about.

    I am delighted with the gifts I did receive from my family. Many of them surprised me. From a jar of mustard to slippers, or a stuffed animal that shares my birthday, or a keepsake from our trip to Japan- my family knows the right things to give me that hits me in the feels.

    For this, I am grateful and wouldn’t change a thing.

    Christmas Video Games

    Almost all my life, Christmas has involved video games. Either getting new systems or games. This year was no different.

    We picked up a Switch for the family and the NES/SNES minis for my wife and I. Even though I didn’t want to last year. We also picked up a couple games to play. All afternoon and night yesterday had us playing as a family.

    Even today, everyone has been gaming throughout the house. Lots of laughs and smack talk a-plenty. When I was younger, my family never played games with me. I did play with friends quite often. Which was great. I also powered through those endless games for hours on end.

    As well when I was younger, we had one of those large wooden cabinet tvs that sat on the floor. Over the Christmases, starting around 1980, our home had consoles arrive that would require Channel 3 or 4 to work. Intellivision was our first one. A couple years later, we got a Colecovision/ADAM computer combo. At which point my father bought another tv. This time a small 13″ one that could go into a different part of the house so that I wouldn’t bother him as I played games.

    Eventually, when we moved to a new home, that small tv ended up in my bedroom for a couple years. Until the Sega Genesis came into my life. We moved again, and then my parents bought themselves another tv and I was given the large old one. Which took up half my new bedroom. So I got a Futon bed to fold into a couch in order to play games more. Which meant I also never put it into bed form. Super Nintendo, followed by the N64 became favorites to play with friends as well.

    Growing into an adult and having a place of my own for nearly the past two decades, I have changed TVs every couple of years. With technology constantly evolving, “upgrading” is one of my favorite things. This Christmas we upgraded our theater room projector. For about five- six years, we had a small 720p Epson projector. It got a ton of use. But as the game systems and games got visually better, it was time to upgrade.

    So on Black Friday, we ordered a new projector online. Since we had such good luck with Epson, I wanted to stay with it. Our new projector shows images in 4K. We weren’t expecting it to be such a large machine. However, the entire family agrees that the quality in the images is incredible. Especially when shown on a 106″ screen.

    It was strange today to play on the big screen and then take the Nintendo Switch out into handheld mode for the same game. Going from 106″ to 6.2″ would seem incomprehensible in 1980.

    What memories do you have of video games? Do you still play them? Have you upgraded your tv or stereo to match the quality of modern systems?

    Christmas Day 2018

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

    I’m not going to write much today. Just going to share some photos of our Christmas Eve fun.

    First was our traditional dinner of Fancy Sandwiches, Schnitzel and potato salad. This year, everyone helped in making the Sandwiches. Our youngest helped with the salad and our oldest helped make the schnitzel.

    After dinner we retired to the theater room and opened our Christmas PJs. The kids had fun taking selfies for Instagram. Afterwards we watched Aggretsuko Heavy Metal Christmas and Powerpuff Girls: The Fight Before Christmas. An easy way to unwind before bed.

    Once the kids were in bed, my wife and I got to work laying out their gifts. And one last hiding place behind the door for Creepy Santa to surprise the kids. Next will be the the start of the big day filled with gifts and fun!

    Merry Christmas Everyone!