I’m not sure why I didn’t write about Christmas as it was happening.  I guess when I get home and off my schedule, I just don’t accomplish much.  Or I accomplish other things. 

From the beginning:  December 18 – my birthday. We skipped that because A) I am 50 years old and  who wants to remember something like that? And B) Erin had final exams.  We pushed it out to the following Tuesday where all four of us could take the whole day and spend it together.  We went to Utica Square (an old outdoor shopping center that has, against all odds, remained cool and fashionable) to have lunch and browse all the cool stores.  Strangely enough, everyone’s favorite place was Williams & Sonoma.  Everybody found something cool in there although nobody bought anything.  We were very close to buying a cake pan that baked train-shaped cake but we decided against it.

For my gift, I got a lawn service for the coming summer.  No mowing for a year!

I sat around a lot wishing my back didn’t hurt.  After a lumbar X-ray and an MRI, all I know is the exact cause of the pain:  something is touching my sciatic nerve.  Other than that, nobody at my doctor’s office has offered any advice other than “take ibuprofen”.  I decided to apply heat throughout the holidays and then give some thought to alternatives like chiropractors after the new year (and our new health insurance plan kicks in).  They sell chemical heat patches especially for backs but they are about $6 for two and I discovered the same chemical things in the camping department (sold as hand warmers) for 3 for $1 so I just bought those.  I can say that my back feels noticeable better – whether this is coincidental or not is debatable.  But it’s cheap and harmless to use the heat patches so I will continue on the off chance that they help.

Christmas itself was absolutely stellar.  Mel and I had decided to blow it out and buy both kids a game console.  We have always put a limit on what they can ask for and pretended to enforce it this year as well so they were totally surprised.  We had gotten them both and hidden them in the trunk of my car.  Even on Christmas, we left them in the trunk – leaving only two envelopes under the tree under all the other stuff.  They were completely taken by surprise and there was happiness all around.  Of course, Mel and I could not watch TV for several days since there was a Wii on the living room TV and an X-box on the bedroom TV but that was expected.  We all played Mario Kart quite a lot.

On Christmas Eve, it started to snow (sleet at first actually) and by the time Christmas day rolled around there was about one foot of snow on the ground.  It was a real white Christmas for us.  The roads were abysmal but luckily for us and everyone else in the state, we did not need to get out and go anywhere.  Or the next day either. It was quite pretty.  It always is until you have to get out and the snowplows begin to heave it up on the side of the roads and into great piles in the parking lots.  Then it gets ugly and stays ugly until March.  But for Christmas day, it was beautiful and we all have a wonderful day.  It could only have been better if we had all gotten each other iPhones for Christmas. 

After Christmas, Mel had to go to Fort Smith with her siblings to go through their Mom’s home one last time to sort through the mountains of crap, keep what things they wanted, and prepare for the estate sale and eventual sale of the house.  It was pretty sad for them all but so filled with activity that they didn’t really find the time to get too sad.  They preferred to do this by themselves so I took the kids and drove down to Eldorado to see my sister.  Linda and my kids love each other’s company so there was excitement on both sides even though both kids are in their high teens.  I always dreaded the long boring drive but with three drivers in the car, it wasn’t bad at all.  We made it in good time and had a nice visit although it was short.

We left on New Year’s Eve to drop Evan off in Horatio at a friend’s from the university.  They were meeting up with another group on New Year’s Day to drive down to Fort Worth for a Campus Crusade for Christ Winter Conference.  That trip was spent in a continual drizzle but aside from that (and running over a cat), it was pretty uneventful.  Erin spent much of the time sleeping in preparation for her own party that she had been invited to so I drove the whole way in silence except for my iPod.

We spent the remaining few days sitting around relaxing in preparation for going back to work.  I always enjoy any and all time off and even when we appear to be doing nothing, it’s always pleasant to have a chance to sit and talk and plan out the next few months or years.  We have always intended to sell our current home eventually and move to another that better meets our needs; it was nice to be able to spend the time to fully think this out together and discuss what we want and when we might start the process. 

It was two very pleasant weeks.