December 26, 2018

Another Christmas come and gone. Hard to believe.

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It’s been a sort of weird adjusting expectations with a baby on the way and not being “home” for the holidays. Christmases were always such a big deal in our house. Tree, decorations, lots of gifts. My mom still tries to buy us all a bunch of gifts and I’m pushing 40. But with the baby coming next month, budgeting takes precedence.

And to be honest, Shar and I had some disagreements over this. I am definitely less frugal than her, and I got upset. No one ever said marriage was easy, and compromise we sometimes do. I’m working on it.

I grew up living at my grandmother’s house for a number of years. It was a tiny little 3-bedroom place in Saginaw, Michigan. I had 6 aunts and uncles and a lot of them had kids as well and we’d all cram into that house and the presents would be stacked halfway to the ceiling it seemed.

My grandmother, who lived on social security only, would save up for half the year just to make sure each of her dozen or so grandkids would have something from her to open on Christmas morning. She had a budget of $25 or so for each kid. I know that was a lot of money for her, but it was important to her. I think that must have stuck with me because I still view Christmas as a really big deal, even when money is tight. Not in the sense that I think mindless consumerism is important. But just that it’s the time to splurge a little and show the people you love that you’ve been thinking of them.

Here in Oregon, it’s still a little strange adjusting to the moderate temps and general lack of snow in these parts of the world this time of year. At that same grandma’s house, she used to cover her crappy windows in clear plastic to keep the chill out of the rooms. I can still remember her standing on a chair and using a blow dryer to heat and stretch the plastic until it fit snugly. I’d often wake up as a kid and sit over a heater vent on the ground, pulling my shirt over my knees and trapping all the heat into it. But I ain’t complainin’ about the weather in the PNW.

This year, we spent Christmas Eve in La Center with Shar’s mom and step family. Big full house with lots of kids. It was fun.

After opening up gifts for our own wee little Christmas yesterday, Shar and I went up to Hagg Lake and walked a trail. Zoey stomped around in the mud a bit yesterday and we could tell she had a really good time running around and sniffing everything that she could. She snagged a few dozen burs in her Velcro fur and got mud all over. A glob of mud got on her eyelash and basically cemented it shut.

At one point, Zoey jumped a small creek to retrieve a stick (we threw over) and she had a hard time convincing herself that she could get back to us. It was kind of cute as she whined like a puppy, but we eventually got her back.

Back at the house, the dog got a bath and some scissors to the fir. I fiddled with the washing machine that has been giving us problems and Shar whipped up a real nice Christmas dinner (I’m looking forward to the leftovers for lunch today). After dinner, we all snuggled up on the couch and rented a movie before calling it a night.

Today I celebrate 2 years since I had my last cigarette. I remember smoking my last one the day after Christmas in 2016 and hopping a plane back to Portland before we went off to San Diego for New Years’ Eve. I was so tired of the control it had over me. It goes without saying, but this was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. To say nothing about the health benefits, I’m saving at least $2500 per year. Can’t believe how much went up in smoke over the years, but happy to report I’m still going strong and not looking back.