Friday, December 26, 2008

Frankincence and Myrrh

Perhaps I have a long to-do list that I'm ignoring, and perhaps there are better ways to spend my time at the moment... But that's just the way I roll today.

My mother-in-law (lovingly referred to as Mamasan) is the queen of all things Christmas. She plays Santa better than anyone I know, primarily because her generosity is through the roof. She cracks us up with the way she must make everything perfectly even. If one person has 15 gifts, everyone must have 15 gifts. If one has more, she starts feeling guilty like the other person didn't get enough. Thus, the vicious cycle of Christmas shopping begins.

I feel like a kid again on Christmas. I remember last year (Christmas 2007) when Jeff (Scott's brother and Jeffrey's uncle and namesake) and Adriane (Jeff's wife) were able to join us for a late Christmas celebration. We all wandered out into the livingroom on Christmas morning to presents piled 3 feet high, 5 feet from the base of the tree. Pure craziness. You'd think that most of those presents would have been for Jeffrey - after all, it makes sense to spoil a child. But, no... They were all equally and fairly distributed amongst all of us. When we were done opening everything, it literally looked like a tornado whiffed through the house. Boxes, wrapping, bows, socks, toys, books, gift cards, candy EVERYWHERE! Poor J&A had to pack it all up and ship it back to Illinois.

So... that was the beginning of the Christmas Conservation Conversation. We decided that, since we're all adults, and we all pretty much have the means to buy what we want when we want it (within the working budget, of course), it makes more sense to just put a limit on the gift-giving. Mamasan was the first to say, "We should just give each other, like, one big gift... and stockings... Or maybe we shouldn't do stockings..." We all agreed. We would put the discussion off until next year when the shopping begins again.

Fast forward to 2008. Around September we started getting hounded for our Christmas lists. Ya know, "Dear Santa, I want a radio flyer and a Major Award for Christmas, Love, Johnnie" letter. This cracks us up every year. Four items won't suffice. We're talking about a list... a 2-page, 8 1/2 x 11 single spaced list of all the things we want or need. And if one person doesn't get their list in on time, the spouse of said person starts getting hounded with the email that reads something like this, "so-and-so won't respond to my emails, and you're always good about getting back to me, so what else does so-and-so want or need? What size shoe, pants, sock, shirt, and underwear is so-and-so? What brand deodorant does so-and-so use?" and out come the 20 questions worded just perfectly that you can't avoid answering specifically.

So, we gently reminded Mamasan of our brief Christmas Conservation Conversation from 2007, and that we were going to discuss in greater detail the rules of said Christmas Conservation Act. "I'm ready when you are..." So... weeks later, I finally gathered us together and said, "Ok, let's talk about the rules this year..." which was met with a "well, we have to have stockings... and why do we have to put a limit on everything... and that won't be any fun..." So... CCA is out the window for 2008.

Fast forward to Christmas morning. My family had plans for various things, J&A couldn't make it to see us this year, and Mamasan was working until about noon, so Scott, Jeffrey and I decided to meet Mamasan at her house in the afternoon with all the gifts and do Christmas at her house this year. (Keep in mind that she hasn't had a Christmas tree since she moved to Oregon, so when we helped her pick out her tree this year, she just about wiggled out of her skin from excitement. It only stood to follow that jolly-making would take place at her house, around her beloved tree.) We walked in and already (not even including the gifts we brought) were presents piled 3 feet high, 4 feet from the base of the tree. Seriously? How does this happen every year??? And like little kids in footy pajamas, we skipped and danced from the prospects of what-could-it-be and couldn't wait to tear into our 3 foot long stockings. Yes, you heard me correctly. HUGE stockings, taller than my son... plus another large gift bag full of the items that couldn't fit into stuffed stocking.

This is where we get our year supply of dental floss, toothpaste, body soap, shaving cream, socks, underwear, nail files, fingernail polish, hand sanitizer, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, and razors, in addition to various gift cards and other stuff. Hilarious!

I kid you not, we had to take two trips back home because all the gifts couldn't fit in one. And we drive a CR-V which has plenty of room. Unbelievable.

So... needless to say, I didn't bring up the CCA for 2009. Why bother? There's no stopping her.

But... let me just say this. The biggest blessing of this year was cuddling on the couch with my beloved husband and darling little boy before any gift-giving started. I just recall last year when Jeffrey was so sick, and we all caught the flu, and we didn't even get our tree up until Christmas Eve... We're deeply blessed. I was overwhelmed by joy - to think that we've been given a home, secure jobs that we love, a family, a strong and happy marriage, health and life - not because we deserve it or even earned it. But just because God chose to bless us in that way. It's a beautiful thing. I'm very, very grateful and don't take it for granted. In a second, it could vanish.

So, yeah, Christmas was fun.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Elfed-Up Version of the Matkovich Family

We like to get elfed -up every year for Christmas. Welcome to the Christmas 2008 version.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Yule Log

The word "log" cracks me up. I love the theme for Ren & Stimpy - "It's Log":

What rolls down stairsand over the chairs
and into your neighbor's dog?
It fits on your back,
It's good for a snack,
Everyone knows it's log.
It's log, it's log,
It's big, it's heavy, it's wood.
It's log, it's log,
it's better than bad, it's good.

And this time of year, there's all this talk about the yule log, which, according to Wikipedia (you know, the resource for all things you want to know, and since it's listed in Wikipedia, it must be true) is a large log (haha) that's burned at the hearth as part of a Christmas or winter celebration... perhaps pagan... Hmmmm... That's just what I want burning in my living room on Christmas morning. I would like to celebrate the birth of our Lord by burning pagan wood.

And apparently, this log is SO popular, there is even a channel dedicated to it from now until January 2, 2009: "Yule Log". Wow. It is so real. I'm certain that if I turned to that channel and left it there, when we have company they will totally think our television has miraculously turned into a fireplace. Awesome.
There are even cakes you can make to look like a yule log. Check it:

This one looks especially delicious:

Yeah. I'd like a chunk of that on my plate, please.


No one will believe your TV is a fireplace. No one wants to watch 5 hours of looped video of someone else's gas fireplace on Christmas morning. And no one wants to slice into a cake that looks like a massive turd with fungus growing on it. Yummy.

People, seriously. Go without the yule log.