|Blues Brother cutout cookie-a family tradition|
Christmas is not my favorite holiday. I like Christmas but I don’t love Christmas. I’m one of those people who complain about Christmas decorations being up after Halloween and Christmas music being played before Thanksgiving is over. Like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, something about Christmas makes me a little uneasy. It probably has a lot to do with the pressure Christmas brings: find the perfect gifts for people, get your cards out on time, bake like a maniac. Somewhere between age 7 and 32, Christmas lost its magic.
This year, however, I found myself really into certain aspects of Christmas. I’m back in the Old Dominion (Virginia for those of you not up on your state nicknames) as I write this and I’ve already partaken in several of my favorite family holiday traditions and I’ve been in the state for about 72 hours. But it hasn't been my family traditions but new things back on the Island (or close proximity to it) that have brought me closer to Christmas.
It’s no secret that I don’t know that many people in Alameda/the Greater East Bay area. In a year’s time I have made more acquaintances and almost friends and friends than I did in my entire time in Virginia but is has not been easy. One of my friends from work invited me to make candy with some of her friends and I now have a new appreciation for Willy Wonka, Werther’s and Godiva. Candy making is hard work especially when you’ve been drinking mimosas and fruit meat hot* toddies. I met my friend’s wonderful neighbors and another friend, we listened to the most random playlist in the world (made by "insane" person who I have to meet because it’s possible we’re mix CD soul mates) and came up with the best name for a band ever. We also managed to make 7 kinds of chocolate truffles, candied oranges and lemons, caramel and spiced nuts. Every last bit of it is delicious.
|The Virgin Sacrifice|
I also really enjoyed our office holiday party this year. The Oakland office has sort of a misfit toy vibe about it so we always do something different for our party. This year we went to Forbidden Island (Alameda’s own tiki bar) and the Pacific Pinball Museum. Isn’t that the best combo ever? I also experienced the greatest moment in my short existence as an Alamedan (I’m not sure that’s correct): I ran into people I know out and about in Alameda. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a year and it finally happened at the tiki bar! The rest of the evening could have been terrible but I wouldn’t have cared because of that singular moment. It was pretty epic particularly in my quest to become a local.
|It's prettier in person|
I've also embraced decorations this year. I put up a wreath (the only decoration in my apartment) and was incredibly excited to find my building all decked out in lights, ornaments and a tree when I came home one day. It's seemed sort of random; it wasn't there in the morning and then kaboom - it's Christmas! Whoever did the building decorations did an excellent job. It makes everything seem a bit more magical and fun without looking like Christmas threw up all over place (which is why I typically avoid decorations). I even enjoyed decorating the Christmas tree with my family this year. Usually we leave it to the last minute but we got an early start and it’s pretty much done with 4 days to spare!
|The lights aren't on but it's still pretty (minus the ladder)|
I admit I didn't send all the gifts I needed to send (some of you are getting Epiphany gifts--we're starting a new tradition) but I don't think it matters. I feel more in the holiday spirit this year and I haven't felt that way in awhile. I don't know if it was the new friends, the pinball or the guy trying to tie a large tree the roof of a Prius but this year everything about the holiday season makes me smile.
|Not the guy I saw tying the tree to the car but a second Prius with a large tree on its roof|
*Fruit meat: the fruit left over from peeling fruit for making candied fruit peels. We had oranges and lemon left and this is how we described it. The fruit meat was turned into a juice and added to tea and Jameson's for an epic hot toddy. And yes, it's also the greatest band name ever. This is what happens when you make candy and drink.