This was the first year we didn't have scheduled time with Ace's kids, so this was also the first year he didn't take time off during either Thanksgiving or Santamas/New Year weeks (btw -- grammar lesson: it's "NEW YEAR" not "NEW YEARS"; there's only one new year... unless you're talking about your celebration, then you can put that fun apostrophe in there before the "S").
Our holiday season started mid-November. We decided that there was no reason for Ace to take Thanksgiving day off (in fact, with a bonus to his paycheck, there was every reason *for* him to work it), and started planning a Thanksgiving dinner for the Tuesday prior. We made sure his kids could make it (Squeaks had the whole week off school, and GamerBoy had finals through Wednesday), planned & bought the food, and started preparing Sunday. We also decided it was time for a full break from the bathroom remodel.
The kids were great; GB has really grown up in the last year. Dinner discussion revolved mostly around the older two's school plans. GB is almost done with community college & is thinking of attending either Oregon State or PSU next fall. Squeaks is still debating; she had some confusion over what's required for her career choices, but GB is trying to convince her to do CC first.
Friday was my mom's annual "Day After Feast"; started for those who had other family obligations on Thanksgiving, but also includes those who work or are "orphans", and anyone else who wants to come, eat, & visit. There are usually between 10 & 15 people; we all pitch in. This year, I made a large batch of fudge (which my brothers mostly devoured), the green bean casserole, and the mashed potatoes. Squeaks actually made it down, too!
That Saturday, Princess went with T&D, their girls, and Mimi for Santa photos while I worked & then watched the Civil War game. The following week, hair appointments for both Princess & I were scheduled. She decided it was time to go more "natural-ish", and chose a combination of reds (and looks even more like me, now). These two months had quite a few birthday parties & volunteer work, as well!
Mid-December, we all had a baking day (& a half, honestly); Princess & I made peanut butter cookies, fudge, & 6-layer bars (not 7; I don't put walnuts in). Princess & Ace made chocolate crackles, M&M cookies, and applesauce mini muffins (traditionally a cookie recipe, it's cake-like enough that they put the batter into our mini muffin tins; they turned out perfectly!). Princess & I put everything in multiple tins, and Monday night (the 17th), she put on her reindeer ears, and we went delivering! We never warn those who are getting a tin ahead of time; sometimes they're home & surprised, sometimes they're not home & surprised by the tin left on their porch.
The second half of December, my work weeks got super-full... I usually work about 15-20 hours per week, but over the holidays, it's between 30-40. That means even baking days and my & the family's nail redos have to be scheduled (usually on Sundays). I also scheduled shopping, and wrapping, days. Speaking of wrapping, I decided to have a "wrapping party" next year. Quite a few local friends hate wrapping, and I thought if I had a party (with refreshements), they would hate it a little less.
The Thursday prior to Santamas, Princess & I went to my mother's so we could exchange gifts before she went to California to visit my sisters, etc. Mom always makes us all a family calendar, with everyone's birthdays & anniversaries on it; very handy. I actually use the same site to do one for my studio -- using photos of some of my work -- but I only have my immediate family's birthdays, plus Ace's & my anniversary.
In years past, I have bought gifts for a few select friends, donated time/money/stuff to many charities, etc... but this year, I wanted to adopt a family. Since we are not religious, church-going people, I didn't want to do it through a church. Instead, I chose a family I have a personal connection to. I bought some things I knew that the mom would love (including candles, a pedi appt with me, & a color/cut appt with my salon's owner), gave them all treats, and gave gift cards for a few different places. I delivered all of these goodies (along with some things one of my clients, and my BFF too, had donated) the Friday prior to Santamas.
Ace & I had invited the kids, as well as his sister & BIL, to celebrate that Monday evening. Everyone showed up around 4p, which was perfect, as we had planned a 5p-ish dinner, followed by gifts & dessert. I had warned the kids that we weren't giving them nearly as much as we had in previous years because of the family I adopted. Besides, they don't need much these days. One surprise -- GB actually bought gifts for everyone, without any reminders. Pretty nice for a broke college kid! Anyway, we had a nice dinner, and a good visit; everyone left by 830p.
Santamas morning, the mini-fam (Ace, Princess, & me) opened our gifts to/from each other, as well as our stockings. We had a stay-at-home movie-day; watching "A Christmas Story", "ELF", and "Miracle On 34th Street" (the original, of course), interrupted by food & card game breaks. Wednesday, we went to see "The Hobbit". It's been a couple years since Ace & I had been to a movie at the theater together, so it was nice to be able to do that. Princess mostly enjoyed it, but said it was "way too long" - I agree!
Last Saturday night, I delivered Princess to her "adopted other family", and Sunday morning, they left for southern Oregon. She'll return sometime on Thursday. This left Ace & I alone (which we hadn't had over the holidays in 5 years, since her bio doesn't get time with her anymore) for five full days. Of course, two of those, we're both working. Regardless, NYE was a quiet night at home; safely off the streets.
We woke up later than usual (of course, after going to bed after midnight), and have been enjoying a quiet jammie day. I have a small to-do list to take care of around the house, and another for my studio space, but all in all, we are taking it easy the rest of the week. Next week, we get back to work on the bathroom remodel, starting with finishing putting up drywall!