Don’t look now, but 2010 is rapidly approaching its end. Normally this is where one would be inclined to comment that the year either seemed to drag on forever or seemed to go by way too fast, but to be honest, I think this one seemed to go by at just about the right speed. Christmas was as it’s always been in our family with everyone gathering from our various far-flung locales and spending some family time together. Unfortunately, this year’s festivities were marked by a visit from one of the various forms of galloping crud that goes around about this time of year. I wasn’t able to completely dodge it myself, but I seem to have gotten a watered-down version of the stuff, and managed to avoid the worst of it. Which is a good thing, because I really hate it when I have to throw up, and although the rest of the symptoms of the various stomach bugs going around aren’t exactly much fun to deal with, at least they’re reasonably tolerable if needs be. It’s when you find yourself at the wheel of the proverbial porcelain bus that you know this one is starting to suck.
Anyway, getting back to Christmas, when people weren’t getting sick it was a pretty standard affair with the big extended family gathering on Christmas Eve, and the immediate family gathering on Christmas day. Unfortunately, I didn’t do anything particularly fancy for the White Elephant gift exchange this year, just some tacky High School Musical lamp with a speaker in it that just happened to hit the exact sweet spot between cheapness, tackiness, and demographical inappropriateness (after all, you’ve got to make sure nobody who gets the thing is actually going to LIKE it, that would ruin the whole point) to work well for the purpose. I figure a repeat of last year’s Ikea prop CRT monitor would probably go over like a lead balloon. Or at least some other really heavy thing. Which was kind of the whole point really. For Christmas itself I actually got a pretty decent chunk of the stuff I had on the list I posted here (apparently I’m kind of hard to shop for if I don’t do something like that) and enjoyed the chance to see everyone. Although some of the more far-flung members of the family are quite some distance away and not here all that often (especially my brother Jason who lives down in Provo,) lately I’ve come to realize that lately I haven’t been seeing even the ones who are relatively close often as I used to. Granted, I do live a little bit further away than I used to, but getting to my parents’ house is still just a quick trip down 520 from here, so I really don’t have much of an excuse.
Anyway, another Christmas has come and gone, and New Years Day is approaching quickly. To be honest, I have to admit that this isn’t exactly my favorite time of year. After all, Christmas is done with, New Year’s Day rarely seems to be much more than an excuse to throw big loud parties, and once you’re done with those you find yourself with most of the Winter sitting in front of you, and not much to break it up. For obvious reasons I’ve never been big on Valentine’s Day, and Summer is still basically six months away. I suppose one coping strategy is to get away from the stuff and go somewhere sunny, but there’s one little problem: the cruise I’m booked on isn’t scheduled until the end of March, a few days past the Vernal Equinox. It’s actually less than three months away now, but that’s three months of some of the crummiest weather of the year. Now that I remember what it’s like to spend three months waiting for a vacation, I think I’m starting to see the reason why I seem to end up planning this kind of stuff on short notice most of the time. I’m not a patient person, and I’ve never been a patient person, Even if it takes a bit of scrambling to plan things out, I find that I do a lot better with vacation coming up in three weeks than I do with one coming up in three months.
Anyway, here’s a couple of random thoughts to close out the year:
- As much as I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Day, I do have to admit that it does provide some occasion for introspection and evaluation. I’ve actually got a couple of days off work here at the end of the year (one scheduled holiday, and one “use it or lose it” floating holiday) and it’s kind of nice to be able to take the time off (mostly) without feeling guilty about it for one reason or another. It’s interesting to recall that it was a year ago today that I was getting laid off from what now appears to be my last Microsoft contract, at least for the time being, and was trying to figure out what the heck I was going to be doing with my life. I’m pretty sure if my current self had gone back a year and let my past self know how things would have turned out I probably wouldn’t have believed myself, but after a bit of a roller-coaster ride of a year, things finally seem to be going in the direction I’d like them to be going. In the process I’ve even managed to check off a few items on my lifelong to-do list, which is nice, but right now I seem to be sitting on one of the really tricky ones: Get Married. No pressure there… I’m kind of hoping that this is one of those things that will eventually work itself out, but something tells me it’s going to take some doing. I suppose I should probably get to work on that one, unless some nice, caring (and preferably relatively sane) girl out there would like to do me a favor and fall madly in love…
- One thing that I’ve learned over the past year is that if you can help it, cheap low-grade ice cream just isn’t worth bothering with. You can be just as happy with a few spoonfuls of the good stuff as you can with a whole bowl of the cheaper stuff. I particularly like the locally produced Snoqualmie Gourmet stuff, particularly the coconut and the chocolate gelato flavors. Granted, the stuff isn’t exactly good for you, but when you’re only eating a little bit at a time it ends up being less calories. Of course, that does assume that you can manage to restrain yourself from wolfing down the whole pint in one sitting. Back in my young and/or foolish days I have been known to go through a whole pint of Cherry Garcia while sitting on the couch watching soaps (actually, the whole soap opera part never happened. As far as you know. Besides, you can’t prove anything.) These days I’m a lot better at putting the stuff away before going overboard, but the stuff is also good enough that a few bites is plenty.
- Even though it seems like these days we’re getting four straight months of wall-to-wall Christmas from our various retail establishments these days (this year, I was seeing Christmas stuff starting to appear on the shelves literally before the end of August,) Christmas also seems to be a holiday that disappears in a hurry when its time has passed. The minute the calendar flips over to December 26th the 50% off tags start flying, and I can’t say I blame them. After all, the “Christmas in July” bit has met with only limited success over the years, and even the marketers have been forced to admit that the “Christmas in April” campaign turned out to be a total flop. Given the fact that the 26th fell on a Sunday this year and that I spent a good chunk of Monday in various degrees of gastric distress, I didn’t make it to any of the stores until several days after the closeouts begun, but since I don’t have any intention of actually buying any of the stuff that’s OK. It is somewhat interesting (in the usual “watching a trainwreck?” fashion of course) to see what’s left over at this point. Case in point: This LED-powered Technicolor Santa. If you really wanted a Santa that colorful, even at the closeout price I think drugs would probably be cheaper. Even so, there’s still some bargains to be had if you’ve got the space for them (which I don’t) but you better hurry because they’re going fast. After all, there’s only 45 shopping days left until Valentine’s Day.
Anyway, thanks once again for your visits to this Blog in 2010, and I hope you’ll stick around in 2011. Although I’ve never been big on resolutions, I’m trying to set a goal to write roughly 2,000 words worth of material a week on here over the course of the next year, and I also want to work on picking some of my long-term Blog projects (particularly the malls) back up. In the meantime, have a Happy New Year, and try not to freeze out there, OK?