Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone.
Holidays this year looked a little bit different thanks to COVID and social distancing, but to be honest, this was probably one of my favorite holiday seasons.
A lot of our usual Christmas fanfare was canceled this year.
Usually, we meander over to Moody Gardens and walk the Festival of Lights trail and go to Ice Land. However, this year, there was no Ice Land because the ice carvers from China were unable to come to the United States. The light trail was still there, but it barely changes, and we tend to go more for the ice sculptures than the lights, so we chose not to go this year.
We also usually see TSO in concert, and coincidentally that concert is usually on the last Friday before the break due to their touring schedule, but the concert was canceled this year, also, for obvious reasons. They did a live stream, and we watched it and we enjoyed it, but it was not the same without the pyrotechnics, lasers, and falling snow.
We also have been away for the past few years during the Christmas break, but we chose not to go away this year. That was just a coincidence though. We’re planning a huge Canada trip over the summer to Yoho National Park, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Kootenay National Park, as well as Glacier in the US during June, pending the borders reopening and COVID getting under control… I planned this trip before COVID even became a thing because I wanted to make sure we got lodging in Canada. So we were planning on mostly staying home for the break as it was, but COVID being what it is, making it a lot more isolating than it would have been if there was no COVID. So being home was already different, to begin with.
We didn’t celebrate the holiday with any of our family members this year because since we’re so exposed at school, we didn’t want to risk being asymptomatic and exposing them. And even if we did take a COVID test, it’s really only good for the day you take it… so unless you take it every day, including the day that you’re planning on seeing people, it’s not 100% accurate. And to us, at least, it was worth sacrificing one year of celebrating with our family, in lieu of many more healthy holiday celebrations after COVID is under control.
So it was just Justin and me over Christmas. But we still managed to continue some of our yearly traditions and we even started some new traditions.
My dream has always been to have a rainbow Christmas Tree, so this was the year that we made that happen. We ordered these lights from a brand called Twinkly. They’re fully animated lights that can sync to music and you can even make your own light shows on them. Justin and I have not really played around with them to that extent yet, but we did find a premade animation that gave me my rainbow tree.
You can also animate the lights to music, and I had a lot of fun doing that and just staring at the lights. The cats were fascinated by it too. Here are some videos that I took on my cell phone showing different animations to different music.
[Song: A Mad Russian’s Christmas by Trans-Siberian Orchestra]
[Song: Chemical Redemption by Delain. Also, this video is shaky because one of the kitties decides to continually head butt me as I recorded it]
[Song: Chance by Savatage. Also, this is probably only half the song because it’s sort of a long song]
The kitties also really enjoy our Christmas tree. I think they look forward to it every year and they love to sleep under the tree when it’s set up.
One of our yearly traditions is that Justin gives me new ornaments for our Christmas tree on each of the eight nights of Hannukkah. Yes, I know the irony. I never said I was a good jew. I think this started when we lived in our second apartment together. Our apartment was finally big enough to have a real tree in it, so we had bought a six-foot tree for it. But we didn’t have any of our own ornaments for the tree except for the things we had bought at Target. So ever since then, I pick out ornaments every year and he surprises me with them. We have a really awesome collection of ornaments now and I really think we should upgrade to a twelve-foot tree so I can display them all… Unfortunately, Justin has not yielded yet, and we have a 9-foot tree, which we bought when we closed our house in 2016. The ornaments aren’t really Christmassy or Hannukkah-like at all. I mean I do have a menorah ornament, but they’re mostly from movies I like or book themed, with a few personalized ornaments to represent our hobbies. We also try to find Christmas ornaments at most of the places we visit on our adventures. Here was this year’s haul:
Unfortunetly, we can’t light a real menorah because one of our cats really hates candles and fire, and tries to extinguish the flames with his paws. But we used to light one before that.
This year we adopted a few new traditions that I hope we continue. On Christmas Eve, we drove around a nearby town and walked around the park, where they had a little light display.
The lights were okay, but so many of the people there WERE NOT WEARING MASKS. Like, I know it was outside and it was probably thirty-something degrees, but people like that are the reason that COVID is out of control. I know wearing a mask isn’t the most comfortable thing [though the one I’m wearing is one I got on Etsy and it’s actually pretty comfortable], but it’s totally worth sacrificing a little bit of comfort to keep yourself and other people safe. You never know what health issue someone might be dealing with on the inside, and by being careless and refusing to wear a mask because it violates your freedom or whatever bullshit you like to tell yourself, you may be risking the life of someone else.
And don’t even get me started on how much Texas is fucking up the vaccine. Please tell me why teachers keep getting pushed further down the list of recipients of the vaccine even though we’re forced to teach in person and see more people than a typical person does every day. I have no qualms with doctors or nurses or other healthcare workers being first to get the vaccine. But what should a politician, who most likely works from home, and also makes three times as much as I do in a year, and who has way better healthcare than I ever will, get the vaccine before me? The state defines teachers as essential workers, so as essential workers, WE SHOULD BE ONE OF THE FIRST GROUPS of people to get the vaccine. The CDC even recommends that teachers should be in the next group after doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers. But states have a right to change the order of who gets the vaccine first, and they keep pushing us down, and now baby boomers are above us. Let’s just be honest here, the ONLY reason baby boomers are getting the vaccine before us is because they’re the fucktards, who keep Texas red. But enough ranting about politics… moving on…
After we walked around the park, we drove around and looked at people’s Christmas Lights displays.
Back when I lived in NJ, my dad and I would drive around every Christmas Eve to look at Christmas lights. We’d listen to the Top 100 Christmas Song Countdown on the radio and just drive around for hours. There were always some really awesome light shows in nearby neighborhoods. So introducing the tradition for Justin was a lot of fun.
Normally, when we’re home for Christmas, we go to Justin’s mom’s house and have our Christmas feast there. We also usually make sugar cookies with her and decorate them.
We couldn’t do that this year though, so instead, we made our own cookies. I used a different recipe than we would’ve used with his mom. I made sugar cookies that were more cakelike and decorated with buttercream icing. Since it was only the two of us, we didn’t make a lot of them, just enough to snack on and give some away. I mixed the dough. Justin rolled out the dough and cut the cookie shapes out of them. I made the icing and decorated them. They tasted delicious.
We also made our own meal. Justin made the ham. I made mashed potatoes with carrots as a side dish. I also made a grasshopper pie for dessert. It was delicious. It tasted just like the drink. It’s even better frozen because it’s like a mint ice cream pie.
After we ate, Justin fell asleep in a food coma on the couch, with Cujo, while I played with a coloring app on my phone.
Then we opened presents once Justin woke up.
That night, I finally opened all my Christmas cards that I’ve been receiving over the past month.
Then Justin and I spent the rest of the night drinking spiked apple cider [hot apple cider with 2 99 butterscotch shots mixed in], watching Christmas movies, and some of our favorite TV shows.
It was a really wonderful Christmas, and honestly, one of the most peaceful ones we’ve spent together. I’ll be excited to see our family next year and hopefully celebrate the holidays with them. But we both really enjoyed spending the holiday with each other. We missed some of the older traditions, but we really enjoyed making new traditions.
New Year’s Eve will look a bit different this year too, but we’re really looking forward to seeing our friends virtually, and playing some games.
Happy Holidays to everyone, I hope your holiday was awesome, and Happy New Year!