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Holidaze… Part 1

Gee Whiz, My First ChristmasSadly, I am still mired in reporting events that have occurred a few months ago, but what better way to deal with the devastating cold, persistent snow drifts and mind-numbing gray skies of a deep winter in Syracuse then to remember, happier, equally cold and snowy days of the not too distant past.  Let the gentle notes of the season drift thoughtfully into your head (or just ram some Rudolph in your ears) and think back to the recent holiday season.

Shortly after our rendezvous with Sleepy Santa at the mall, we headed home for what proved to be Justine’s (unsurprisingly) first Christmas.  We had originally planned to leave after work on the 23rd, for we had plans to meet with my family at noon the 24th to exchange gifts and engage in ‘holiday activities’.  But because of the desire to see Santa Clause, and the small detail of not being packed that night, we decided to leave bright and early on the 24th.

Justine, of course, was not adequately briefed about the plan, and instead decided to stay up much of the night, regaling us with tales about her day playing with toys, told entirely through loud, raucous screaming.  The light of day finally upon us, we took to the road, zombie-like, and headed south.  Naturally, our delay in leaving left us driving into the teeth of a ‘winter weather warning’ which mostly consisted of a large sheet of ice that covered the roads between Syracuse and Allentown.  It was not an auspicious start to the trip.

We arrived in Philly only a half an hour late to the gathering, and mustered the energy to appear lively as my family partook of a wonderful brunch and gift giving bonanza.  Justine delighted in her new toys, relishing in the attention given to her by everyone, while Kim and I bravely mustered smiles, taking turns slipping out to the bathroom to catch 5 minutes of sleep sitting on the toilet.

The Baby Jesus?After the festivities, we attended the early Christmas Eve service at our church.  The church puts on 3 services on the day before Christmas, two later services geared towards adults that represent the somber and seriousness of the birth of Jesus, and the late afternoon service “for the kids” featuring a Christmas Pageant that revels in such historical inaccuracies as “Wise Women,” shepherds sporting Adidas sandals (and socks), and a real live baby Jesus portrayed by a one month old baby girl (in this case performed ably by my niece Abby).  It was certainly a charming, if raucous, affair, but it was nice to be involved in a service where Justine could scream and we wouldn’t get the usual stares and subtle “to the back” nods.

After church we headed over to Kim’s parents house for a full-on Christmas dinner, complete with ham, yams, and even a small “Christmas Beast.”  To continue to atone for a year’s worth of misdeeds, we agreed to attend another service at a small church nearby.  This was a more traditional affair, consisting of the usual litany of Christmas Eve service staples, including singing Christmas carols, the requisite acknowledgment of the church that Santa and Jesus can co-exist peacefully, if not amicably, and the candle-lit singing of Silent Night.  Justine, for her part, did a reasonably good job of not calling attention to herself, and Kim and I both made it through awake.  We returned to the house, and quickly succumbed to a well-deserved sleep, well aware of what lay ahead.

Christmas Day would dawn early.

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