Christmas 2018

12242018-12

Christmas Eve Dinner Roll Call!

1. Dad
2. Sherri
3. Me
4. Shobhit
5. Aunt Raenae
6. Jennifer
7. Eric
8. Hope
9. Chase
10. Ian

There were 10 of this year, 3 more than last year -- as last year, Sherman had Hope and Chase, so they did not make it; Aunt Raenae was not with us for this dinner last year but she did come this year, probably at least in part because she had other family commitments on Christmas Day and would thus be able to spend some Christmas time with us on Christmas Eve. Everyone came over to the house afterward to visit for a while as well, so it was pretty lively at the house even on Christmas Eve. Jennifer especially wanted to maximize her time with me, as they were unable to come to the house on Christmas Day proper as well.

Speaking of which, Shobhit was for some reason very misguided for a while in his strange insistence that Christmas would be a quiet one this year. But guess what? Even without Aunt Raenae or Jennifer's family over for Christmas dinner, we still had 20 in attendance yesterday . . .

Christmas Dinner Roll Call!

1. Dad
2. Sherri
3. Angel
4. Ricky
5. Rachael
6. Raiden
7. Britni
8. David [Britni's fiancée]
9. Pam [David's mom]
10. Alex
11. Gina
12. Beth
13. Me
14. Shobhit
15. Toni Marie
16. James
17. Hayden [Toni and James's eldest]
18. Kylar [Toni and James's second oldest]
19. Thayer [Toni and Jame's youngest]
20. Kellan [James's 6-year-old nephew he and Toni have been fostering since May -- I just met him at Jennifer and Eric's Halloween party]

And this is actually five more than we had last year, entirely thanks to my cousin Toni Marie's six-member family coming this year. (That did not push it to 21 compared to last year's 15 because my nephew, Gina's son David, was able to make it last year and this year he could not because he was working -- they all had a Christmas dinner with him on Friday.)

And since I did this last year, I'll also include the history of Christmas Dinner attendance counts since I started keeping track:

2011: 11
2012: 28
2013: 16
2014: 20
2015: 33
2016: 9
2017: 15
2018: 20

As you can see, it rather yo-yos year over year. I think Shobhit has years like 2016 stuck on the brain and he keeps thinking the next years will be just like it. 2016 happened to be a record low, though; it was only the year before we had a record high. This is the second year in the past decade or so we had an even twenty -- which is frankly plenty. It's true that Christmas Day tends to feature far fewer young children as they have in the past -- 75% of the kids below 10 years of age this time were all kids brought by Toni and James; the total such children numbered four, and the other 25% was Ricky and Rachael's son, Raiden. So that left 15 of us being adults, and just one teenager (Hayden).

And even now there's a lot of factors that go into whether someone comes to Dad and Sherri's for Christmas dinner, not least of which is how many of us are grown and people have their own kids and other stops to make, and sometimes other plans that preclude coming to Dad and Sherri's altogether. Toni and James, for instance, make it some years and not some other years. I want to say that last year Toni and James took their family to Aunt Raenae's house; Aunt Raenae was going to Troy and Michelle's this year, and Toni and her brother don't have a good enough relationship for her to want to bring her family there. (Latest bullshit from Troy directed at Toni Marie: they won't accept school pictures of Thayer because they've let him have a mohawk, and I guess Troy and Michelle feel, in their fundamentalist idiocy, that's not "Christian" enough. Troy is the cousin, remember, who once sent me a letter requesting I not put the birthdays of his family members on the calendars I make because "Your lifestyle is an abomination." That was ten years ago last February.) Dad told me yesterday that James RSVPed on Sherri's Facebook Event invite for Christmas Dinner within ten minutes of it having been sent out. In any case, Toni Marie and James coming to these things or not changes the count by a factor of five -- or rather, now that they are also fostering his nephew, six. That changes the numbers pretty significantly.

Anyway! Back to Christmas Eve dinner. We had to wait to get seated at Emperor's Palace for more than an hour, because we did not actually have reservations -- which, naturally, they recommend, but Dad and Sherri did not know for sure if Jennifer and Eric would be joining us until the last minute and that meant our party would be either five, or ten! But Sherri had some leveral when they first tried to tell us they could not seat us: "Well, you owe me," she said. "We had reservations last year and you were closed" -- due to a pretty pathetic dusting of snow. So, the hostess went back to talk to a manager, then came back and told her there would be a 45-minute wait.

We waited a while for Jennifer and Eric to arrive anyway, so even though they had three minors with them, the rest of us waited in the bar. Sherri, myself and even Aunt Raenae all had a cocktail; my White Russian cost all of $5.50 and it wasn't even Happy Hour -- in Seattle, that is a Happy Hour price, and a cheaper than average one at that! Dad had a beer and Shobhit had a rather heavily poured "shot" of whiskey.

After Jennifer and Eric arrived, Eric himself took every opportunity possible to mention to staff that last year they had been closed for "a quarter inch of snow." Honestly I think we were all pretty high maintenance this time around, however much they really did kind of owe us for last year, and most of us did leave at least a 30% tip -- mine was even slightly more than that. One waitress even stood on a chair to take the above photo for us, which I really appreciated -- Eric had already taken a photo himself, but he wasn't in it; Shobhit was pretty insistent that we ask someone else to get a shot he could actually be in. As pushy as Shobhit can be, I'm glad he did that, as I like this shot way better than the one Eric took.

Also the food really was delicious. Shobhit ordered sake, which he really didn't need after he was already buzzed from his whiskey. He slopped onto the table when pouring his sake more than once, and for a few minutes I was getting irritated with his obnoxiousness.

Jennifer to the rescue! She had a whiskey and coke (I think) before then getting a Long Island Iced Tea -- and even after the many times she and I have gotten together to drink the night away, I don't think I had ever seen her so buzzed and giddy. I mean, she was having a great time, and honestly only genuinely irritated Eric in the process, but it was also a relief to me that she took attention away from how buzzed Shobhit was in the process. Jennifer could easily be said to have been more obnoxious than Shobhit, but I was quite amused by her for the most part. In retrospect, that's probably just because Jennifer is not my spouse and Shobhit is (hence Eric being the one visibly annoyed by Jennifer, increasingly so as the night wore on, and Jennifer refused to head home from the house until the drink she had there was finished -- and she really milked how long she could nurse that one).

I mean, there were moments of real tension between Jennifer and Eric, and Jennifer said "Ask me if I care?" so many times it could practically have been a catch phrase. In a way I appreciated it, though, because it actually lessened and deflated the comparatively few moments of tension I had with Shobhit. And Jennifer was just having a good time, really, and had had a particularly stressful week, and even that day itself, at work -- not only was she working as a mail carrier on Christmas Eve, but a coworker had just found out her mother had died that morning. So, not a great day at work. None of us could really begrudge Jennifer how much she drank.

12242018-09

I had already had a Hot Buttered Rum at Danielle's friend Lisa's place, which Shobhit and I stopped at for all of half an hour on our drive down to Olympia. Traffic magically worked pretty well for us, which made this possible even though we weren't able to leave until Shobhit got off work at 3:30. I had my one cocktail at Emperor's Palace before dinner, so I was easily able to drive while Shobhit was buzzed off his whiskey and warm sake when we all went from there to the house.

But, let's get back to the drive down beforehand for a minute. Shobhit's right that I really could have worked half a day and therefore not had to take a PTO day, but I had already submitted at work that I was taking the day off, and why not? This left me more time to take my day leisurely anyway; hell, I even spent two hours at Steamworks again! Mostly to try to make up for what a bust Saturday evening had been, with moderate success. I still have the two $5 coupons I got out of the Saturday visit, because when I tried to use it on Monday, I didn't realize arriving before noon would have been so cheap -- they would only accept the coupon after noon when the afternoon pricing kicked on. I got there at about 11:30 and the total price was only six bucks! The action I got was fairly middling, but hey -- it was worth six bucks.

I still had time to vacuum before I even did that. I thought about seeing an early movie but decided that would pack the day with too much, trying to write the review before leaving to meet with Shobhit in Northgate when he got off work at 3:30. This way Alexia would come into a clean condo when she came to feed the cats Monday evening, yesterday morning and yesterday evening.

Shobhit had already taken the packed suitcase to the car before going to work early that morning -- in the end, actually, we could have done our traditional Christmas Eve Morning gift exchange then, but at my suggestion, to save time and maybe allow me to sleep in, we did it the night before, on Sunday. There are the requisite photos of that, still, in the full Christmas 2018 photo album on Flickr. We did that after taking a quick drive downtown so I could get some last-minute nighttime photos of city holiday decorations, which are also featured in the same photo album. This photo album each year usually only includes Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but this year includes December 23 for these reasons.

Anyway, last week I had texted Danielle that we would not likely have time to stop by on our way to Olympia this year, but she really wanted to make it happen -- she knows how much I love tradition, and basically indicated this year how much she herself loves this particular tradition too. At first she texted me on Monday if we really couldn't make it, and if not could we meet with her for five minutes off the freeway? I thought maybe this meant she had something to give us, but nope, it was something sweeter than that -- she just wanted to be able to see us, however briefly, on Christmas Eve as usual.

Luckily, as I said, traffic was generally on our side, and when I plugged in the routing in Google Maps with Danielle's place as a stop in between, it estimated two hours' drive -- assuming half an hour with Danielle, starting at 3:30, that gave us exactly the two and a half hours we needed to get to dinner in Olympia on time at 6:00.

We wound up going to Danielle's friend Lisa's instead, as Danielle was there for dinner, and she said it was a little closer to the freeway than her house anyway, so that actually worked out well for us. We got to their place by about 4:15, and came in declaring we needed to leave by 4:45. This was after Danielle accidentally gave us the wrong address (161st Street instead of the correct 171st Street), and it was in a less affluent part of town -- Shobhit practically made it sound like the ghetto, which it really wasn't. Once we got to Lisa's rather nice home though it did seem more to expectations. Anyway Lisa offered me a Hot Buttered Rum and I accepted; Shobhit and I each had one of her homemade frosted gingerbread cookies; and we were indeed on our way again by about 4:50.

Oh, and Morgan and Danielle are apparently getting along so poorly that Morgan has been staying at Patrick's for over a week. I don't know any more details about that, but it's why only Rylee was there, with one of Lisa's kids there as well to play with. Lisa's daughter came out of the house when we arrived, with a scooter but roller blades still on her feet. We all wondered how she was going to manage that.

Anyway we got to Emperor's Palace at 6:00 on the dot, although we could easily have gotten there an hour late and been fine.

And I already told you about the rest of Christmas Eve for the most part, and some about yesterday, although I can't think of much more in detail to tell you about. It was a lovely, lively Christmas as usual, not quiet and sparsely attended like Shobhit had been expecting. (He conveniently forgets things like this when he tries to tell me "I'm always right!" Can you guess how annoying I find this?) Shobhit chose not to make Christmas samosas this year, both because his work schedule left him with too little time, and he also just made some for Thanksgiving at Gina and Beth's last month. I did bring a Field Roast Celebration Roast, which for some reason he actually liked this year -- last year he complained it wasn't very good; I guarantee you there was little difference. In any case, I'm glad I had it as an alternative protein to the rack of lamb Dad baked for everyone else; Shobhit and I also had vegetarian green beans Sherri prepare for us; some carrots Dad took out of the fridge for us; the truly delicious mashed potatoes; dinner rolls; and plenty of the cheese and crackers which Shobhit actually arranged on the platter for Sherri (and I lettered the little signs!). So we had plenty to eat. We even took home leftover Field Roast and mashed potatoes, and a bunch of cookies; that's what I had for my lunch today at work.

We timed our trip home so that I would barely manage to get my photos uploaded to Flickr, and I could get my "Christmas in the Northwest" photo digest email sent out (now that I have to send it using personal email, I am less inclined to send those out during work hours) -- it was nearly 11:30 by the time I was done with that and actually ready for bed. I only managed to get the photos tagged this morning, and also copy over captions on the photos I have on Flickr for which there are also captions either in that digest email or on Facebook. So, maybe twenty or so of the shots from the past three days are captioned currently, and I hope to get the rest done soon. Either way, you can get a sense of my overall weekend beyond what I've just written here by perusing through those.

12252018-26

[posted 12:27 pm]

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