I now have the time and energy to think more about the holidays and Christmas gifts, and get ready to head out of town for a week over Christmas. This is the first year Matt and I have really navigated the holidays as a couple, and it's an experience worth reflecting on. For the first two years of our relationship, we each went to our own family for the holidays, and last year we were down in New Zealand, so figuring out where and how to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas didn't prove much of an issue. This year, however, after 3 1/2 years together, it no longer makes sense (nor do we want) to spend the holidays apart. It's also the first year we've shared a home in the truest sense. And with Matt's family here in Portland and mine 450 miles away in eastern Washington (the state), and neither of them having had us around last year, we have had to figure out how to split our time while celebrating together. We both have pretty easygoing families, and it has worked out pretty smoothly so far, which is really encouraging. We spent Thanksgiving here, with Matt's family, and we're going to spend a full week over Christmas with my family in Newport and Cheney, WA. We'll get back to Portland on December 28th, and celebrate Christmas with Matt's family at New Year's. I actually kind of like it this way- it draws the holidays out and makes it like one big ongoing festival! And I'm really excited to go up to my parents' place in the winter- we haven't seen them since the beginning of September, and I haven't been up there during the snowy season in a few years, and Matt's never been there in winter. This is what it looked like a few years ago, during a particularly heavy winter:
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
On the subject of combining and figuring out new holiday traditions as a couple, we've modified our Christmas tree slightly. We put it up last week, but I couldn't escape the feeling that something was missing. It was a little too dark, lacking something I couldn't identify. Then Matt suggested we get some tinsel to brighten it up and add some sparkle. I was skeptical, having never had tinsel on the tree growing up, but it's something that Matt always had as an integral memory of decorating the Christmas tree. So I stopped at the local thrift store yesterday and found a garland for super cheap, along with some little red, green and gold baubles. Matt did the honors, and our tree, now a combination of our childhood traditions, got exactly what it needed, and feels just right.
I also scored a perfect string of white LED lights to brighten up the dark side of the kitchen, and Matt strung them up.
Now we're feeling exceptionally festive around here!
It's felt particularly wintery this past week, with a distinct lack of rain (usually December is one of our wettest months), but exceptionally cold, dry weather with very chilly nights. We've had frosts every night for a week, and finally a very hard frost two nights ago that did in everything that was still managing to grow in the garden. Time to till in the cover crops, I guess:
You can see the pock-marked soil where the frost has expanded it and then collapsed...
This morning there is a thick white frost on the south side of everything, including all the big sequoias on our street. It's so thick I can almost make believe it's snow!
When I went to let the chickens out this morning, their water was completely frozen over, with a solid centimeter of ice on it. Here's Lady Macbeth standing on top of it:
It's so good to be home and to not have to constantly think about school work or have it in the back of my mind that there is this other thing I have to be working on. Instead, I can relax (which I fully plan to do a lot of today), sew, read, clean, or just sit by the kitchen window and watch the chickens, one of my favorite pastimes.
Enjoying a winter snack of wheat and rye mash from the most recent batch of home brew.
It doesn't get much better than this, does it?