Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Late, as usual!

But I hope that each of you out there has had a very merry Christmas indeed!

I've still got houseguests, but at the moment I'm mooching about the house having an utterly unproductive day while I wait for the guys (DH, my dad, and two more) to finish a two-hour water-heater project which is now approaching the end of its eighth hour with no end in sight. I never seem to get anything done when (1) there are workmen in the house, or (2) the water is turned off, and having both at once means a whole lotta mooching.

Right now we ought to be arriving home from our trip to Neurology at Phoenix Children's Hospital to have baby's MRI results evaluated by our neurologist, but they had to reschedule us till next week, so that was canceled. Probably a good thing, as DH would have had to leave the guys hanging in the middle of their project!

Our Christmas went pretty well, though we started out with a small catastrophe. I make our friend Kay's overnight coffee cake for Christmas morning, and this year I made two alterations: I doubled it and put it in a 9x13, and I used yogurt/whey instead of buttermilk. Whether it was one thing or the other, the end result was that five minutes after putting it in the oven, the kitchen filled with smoke, and upon opening the oven door, I found said cake to be bubbling gently and cheerfully over the sides of its pan onto the bottom of the oven! So we had the fire alarm going off, all the doors open, etc. etc. etc., in the middle of family present-opening.

I decided to put a baking sheet underneath and keep baking, and it turned into an amorphous blob of no defined shape, but thankfully still a most delicious one, and we were able to hack it apart and partake, regardless of its rather alarming appearance. Yum.

This Christmas we hosted a first-time ever "mixed" Christmas - i.e. we had both my parents and DH's parents with us. It went quite well, and I think everyone enjoyed it. A success!

But all the same, I don't recommend it, and I certainly hope we don't ever do it again.

Perhaps it would have gone better for someone who is a more successful/skilled hostess than I (which is just about anyone). But I found it rather awkward to mix families. Each family group has a unique conversational style, interpersonal dynamics, and group/individual identity, and to mix them just felt.... uncomfortable. I want our in-laws to know each other, and I wouldn't mind doing it again on a non-holiday, but I think I'd rather stick to non-major-holidays for reunions.

But all in all, it went well!

My mom, however, has been up to her usual tricks! Each time she comes to visit us, she brings a vast, enormous amount of STUFF with her that I spend the following six months or so trying to deal with - gifts, things she's bought for us, things she's cleaning out of her house, things neighbors and friends have given her for us - all very kind, and all very difficult to deal with. This time was no exception - I now have something like ten to twelve moving boxes full of more STUFF to deal with.

And what is worse, most of it this time is the dreaded family heirloom china/glass/dishware. My mom was the hapless recipient of something like five (or more) families' worth of collected china and dishware, but having a high value herself for family heirlooms, she has kept all of it. I have told her, repeatedly, from junior high on, that I had absolutely no interest in having any of it. However, it has now started migrating this way as she starts to weed out her collection - passing it on not to an antique store, unfortunately, but to me. However, when I tried to delicately hint that the glassware was still not on my list of highly-wanted items, the tension rose exponentially, so I will try to weed it out gradually after the fact. I did succeed in sending a few particularly ugly pieces back, so that was something.

I find the family heirloom issue to be a particularly difficult one. Option #1 - Keep a lot of things I don't want and don't have room for. Option #2 - Say I don't want them and insult the family. Option #3 - Get rid of them and end up insulting family again. What's a non-china-collecting girl to do?

The quandary continues.

Of course, the problem would become much easier if I liked our family heirloom china, but as a matter of fact, I find it all to be quite unattractive and/or downright ugly. Too bad my family's tastes didn't match mine! How careless of them! :)

But even if it was beautiful, I still would not want to inherit the hundreds and hundreds (thousands?) of pieces of china currently in our family. You wouldn't know it to look at our house, but I'm a minimalist at heart, and the thought of more clutter makes my heart sink.

Moving on!

Christmas Eve did indeed come and go without us settling on a church home, marking one full year of church-home-less-ness. DH was pushing to have us settle on one so that we would have a "home" for the holidays (it's so depressing to be without a church during Christmas!) but I resisted on the grounds that it might be nasty to have a "what have we done?" morning-after experience once Christmas was over and we realized that we had settled on the wrong church just to have a home for Christmas. So we didn't!

The church we've been marginally attending didn't have a Christmas Eve service, so we went to a large local Baptist church for that. As usual, baby was angelically-behaved until the pastor walked up and said "Good evening!", at which point he started squalling his head off! So much for that! But when I walked him out, we ended up having a very nice service-for-two in their lovely foyer, with the sound piped in, so I heard the service in the comfort of a foyer armchair while baby nursed. A lovely evening!

In our church search, contender #3 (the outsider of the race) has recently - and surprisingly - pulled to the fore, due entirely to DH's interest. Considering that DH is an ex-Pentecostal and said church is highly formal, liturgical, and traditional, this is nothing short of astounding!

I have been neutral on the issue. It's been interesting to be back in a liturgical church, but it feels a bit foreign. I grew up in the liturgical church, but became a Christian and have all of my spiritual "upbringing" in the Calvary Chapel/non-denominational/surfer-church type of congregation, so returning to my roots feels.... weird. But interesting. We're going to give it a try for a few weeks and see how it goes.

The main two hurdles are (1) Calvinism, and (2) infant baptism. We're okay with Calvinism as long as it's not ramroding-down-your-throat Calvinism, as was the first church we tried (as in, "Good morning! Let's stand while we recite the doctrines of grace!"). After all, our last church was Calvinist and it wasn't a bit of a problem. It's really how much Calvinism is preached. DH and I find ourselves smack in the middle of the Calvinism/Arminian spectrum, so we tend to shy away from die-hard Calvinism.

Also, this church practices infant baptism. It's not "this infant is baptized, so it's now a Christian" baptism, as was practiced in my home church, but "this infant is baptized, so it's now a member of our covenant community." We're okay with their practice, but we don't want to participate, as we support believer-baptism (i.e. someone is baptized when he becomes a Christian), and we don't know if that would be okay or not with them. We're going to meet with the pastor in a few weeks to go over doctrinal issues, and this will be the most important one to discuss.

Well, back to family! The two-hour project is now verging on something like ten hours - right on schedule! Merry Christmas, all!!


  1. Can you just keep the glassware in boxes in the attic or a closet somewhere? You can always say that you're just trying to keep it from getting broken by your rambunctious family. :-)


  2. Hi, Kathy! I guess that could be a possibility! However, our house isn't large, and we are already bursting at the seams - we have no room left! (You should see our "guest room" - it's one big overflowing storage nightmare.) Most of that is due to the fact that we're not sure if we're "done" with kidlets and so are saving all of our baby/kid stuff. Also, if I kept all of the family stuff, I would probably have to rent another house because the volume is just so vast! But I guess the main thing is that I really don't want to spend the rest of my life storing a vast amount of stuff that I will never use, and then end up cursing my children with it. I'd rather declutter now. But it's a hard balance to find, and it will take a while!!! :)


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