This year we spent Christmas here in good ol' Cheyenne. The original plan way back in September was to spend Christmas in lovely and warm Phoenix, but when the Cat Daddy requested time off they were all, "Sorry, no-can-do. We hear Phoenix is nice at Thanksgiving time though." So that's how we worked it this year.
Truthfully, as much as I enjoy visiting the fam and all the fun craziness that goes with Christmastime there...I love the relative laid-back-ness that comes with staying home. Our family is still fairly young, so very little is set in stone yet. We're foraging our own traditions, and non-traditions and stuff, so there's lots of room for changing things up year to year. Thus far we've determined that Santa does, in fact, visit our house, and we wait until Christmas morning to open all the presents. Santa was a little anemic in the area of filling the grown-ups' stockings this year; I think that's something he needs to work on for next year.
We have also decided that if Christmas dinner is at our house, and if it consists of a giant hunk of meat (I'm still pulling for tamales one year), then that hunk of meat is to be a roast beast of a bovine nature. Rib roast is preferable, and medium rare is a must. While Christmas Eve dinner is always Mexican in Phoenix (bean burro, enchilada-style), it's open to interpretation in Cheyenne. This year we did Red Lobster, which was a fun, albeit slightly spendy change from our norm. There are differing schools of thought on the quality of the seafood at Red Lobster, but keeping in mind that we are in the middle of the country, rather than either coast, it is reliably decent (but I do miss the fish & chips--pollock!--at the 99). To be sure, there's no way one would end up with, say, cheese-filled fish sponge squares, that's all I'm saying.
Now the really different part this year was church. I'm a fan of Christmas Eve services, and being my normal, nonconformal and slightly-rebellious self, I tend to enjoy services that are a little bit different. Shake up the norm a bit, you know? Our church here did have a Christmas Eve service, and I'm told it was quite nice, but we switched it up a bit and attended the Methodist church.
It turns out there is a (very small) part of me that enjoys a little bit of tradition and liturgy, and probably the single event that triggers that very small part is Christmas. Lately I'm liking a little bit quieter, more contemplative time for celebrating Baby Jesus. And I was really hoping for some handbells.
Alas, to hear the handbells we'd have had to wait until the 11pm service, and that's just crazy talk, so we settled for the choir, brass ensemble, and a real friggin' pipe organ.
I used to hate the organ. Growing up it always coincided with boring, old-people dirge music, which was a total drag. So either I'm turning into an old person who likes boring dirge music, or I'm hearing better organ music, because I really enjoy it. I sure hope it's the latter. It could be that I've gained an appreciation 'cuz I have a good friend who's a hardcore organist. And as a drummer, I can certainly appreciate the skill required to play an organ. I use all 4 limbs, but I only worry about rhythm and dynamics. I can throw stuff like melody & pitch right out the window. Organists have both hands, both feet, several keyboards, millions of pedals, and about two billion buttons to choose from, in order to create just the right sound. That's some serious coordination, right there.
Regardless, it was beautiful. The reverends wore robes, and we got to do responsive readings, and at the end of the Bible reading the reverend said "This is God's word for God's people." No, wait; I think it was in the passive voice--"The Word of God for the people of God." Or "the Lord" instead of "God," maybe? Whatever...you get the point. This was all interspersed with carols, the best part being Silent Night at the very end. The choir came out & stood in the aisle, holding candles.
They usually give everyone a candle & shut out the lights & stuff, but due to some major construction they've got going the fire-supression system was out, & I think the fire marshall out the kibosh on the full-candlelight. I was bummed because I do enjoy my own little dose of fire, but the no-sprinklers thing was certainly understandable. And "Silent Night" was still quite lovely and special the way they did it.
As for Christmas itself, we reveled in the festivities, opening presents from family, but not from Santa because he doesn't wrap the presents he brings to our house. We had a turkey dinner with our Ft. Collins friends (and their whole fam-damily; it was faboo) & saved the roast beast until the folks visited a couple days later.
All told, a very nice holiday...