Christmas Eve

For almost as long as I’ve been blogging, I’ve written a Christmas Eve post every year.

2009

2010

2011

This Christmas Eve, I’m once again sitting on the couch gazing at the tree, feeling steeped in family and ham with cheesy potatoes.

We’ve had the traditional Christmas activities:

Cookie Baking

Extended Family Christmas Eve Party

Last Minute Shopping/Wrapping

Mexican Train

Christmas Jigsaw Puzzle (which Amy takes over.  I have not the patience for such things.)

Christmas Movies (The Santa Clause is my favorite)

Christmas Eve Mass (and the resulting pew dozing, which is simultaneously irreverent and inevitable)

It’s funny to be twenty-two, and to remember past Christmases when I could hardly sleep for excitement, and to look forward to future Christmases which may not be spent in Minnesota or with family.  It’s funny to feel that I just want to soak up more togetherness, and that I don’t really need a thing under the tree.  It’s funny to be mature and blase and (slightly) boring.  It’s funny to be too old to run around with the kids at Christmas parties, and to instead sit up straight with the adults (and be offered alcoholic drinks).

This is getting to be a nostalgic post, and while I do think that Christmas is the perfect time for nostalgia, and for rewatching those Christmas home videos in which you are quite blatantly opening your little sister’s presents “for her” and coveting them shamelessly, I also believe in merry Christmases and bright futures.  May you have both.

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MIA

I’m so sorry I’ve been MIA.  But truthfully, there hasn’t been much to say.  I’ve been working at Target.  Most guests are in the holiday spirit.  Some aren’t.  I pulled a calf muscle pushing flats piled with paper towels around the store.  So it goes.

What I really want to tell you, though, is that last night, my gentleman caller and I went to see A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie in Minneapolis.  It was a great time: The acting and music were wonderful, and I was appropriately terrified when the last ghost came out amidst blasts of fog and crashes of thunder.

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Afterward, of course, all we wanted was Italian food.  It was 10 pm, and surprisingly for the city on a Saturday night, not much was open.  Pizza Luce was, though, so we camped out there for an hour or so, eating slices and giggling like children at the waitress who wouldn’t stop refilling our sodas.  (Good service, I guess, but it became slightly disturbing after a while; she was watching us too closely).

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Now, however, I’m off to work an overnight.  10 pm to 6:00 am.  Luckily, I’m armed with ugly sweater, holiday spirit, and Coke.

Warning Letter

Dear Friends,

I know that Friday night is coming.  I know that it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and that having gorged yourself on cranberries still in their can-like form, turkey smothered in gravy and abutted by mounds of stuffing and potatoes, and a few rolls thatjustbalanced on the edge of your plate, you’ll be lethargic.

I know that you’ll wake up on Friday morning still woozy from that last “sliver” of pie.  And yet, and yet, you will still trek to Target before the sun is up, if only to elbow your hair stylist’s elderly mother out of the way, that you might claim the last Nikon.

I know that Friday night, after sandwiches bulging with leftovers, you will seek entertainment.  Something light, something out of the house (away from the dishes), something the entire family can enjoy.

But friends, I implore you: do not go see Breaking Dawn Part 2.  If you do, you will laugh at first, then you will furrow your eyebrows in dubious mockery, and then you will be overwhelmed by waves of revulsion and worry for the future of popular filmmaking.  You will find yourself snatching your neighbor’s Milkduds to throw at the screen. You will sob the entire way home, because how can any movie that people pay to see be that bad?

Trust me.  I’m still emotionally shattered from my own viewing last night.

Wishing you happy Thanksgiving travels,

Holly

The Purple People Eaters

I went to my first Minnesota Vikings football game today.  They were playing the Arizona Cardinals, and it was only 25 dollars to go through UMM Intramurals, and, let’s face it, there’s not much I like more than screaming at men while they tackle each other in pursuit of an oblong leather ball.

I woke up at 6:40, tugged on my dad’s Brett Favre Vikings jersey (aware that I would likely be publicly mocked for wearing it), skipped the oatmeal because I was just too sleepy for that kind of thing, and walked to campus.

The sunrise was lovely.

As was our entry into the Twin Cities

My future workplace?  It’s possible.

We passed a huge tailgating party.

The billowing white Metrodome roof.

And inside. If you can’t tell from the angle, we were in the nosebleeds. So far in, as a matter of fact, that our row was the second highest in the whole place. As in, Edmund Hilary was sitting next to me.

The Vikes won, if you’ll allow me a gloat, and Adrian Peterson had several glamour runs to keep the crowd roaring.

We piled back onto the bus after it was over.  Promptly, everyone’s heads were tipped sideways against windows and neighbors’ shoulders.  I only woke to catch the sunset over Lake Minnewaska.

Yet Another List (But This One Has Pat Sajak)

Over the course of the evening, I have:

1. Made these chocolate chip cookies, which are roughly the circumference and thickness of chewy hockey pucks.  That was meant to sound tantalizing.  Anyway, they’re good, and worth the extra preparation steps.

2. Worked out on the gym machine that’s part stair-stepper, part elliptical, with attached TVs.  Do you know what I’m talking about?  I didn’t want to run, as I was still a little full from dinner, so I figured that this unnamed machine may be smoother on my stomach.  I was completely wrong, of course, and had to stop periodically to protect the latest episode of Gossip Girl from projectile vomit.  Still, it was nice to take a break from the treadmill, though I suspect that I’ll have trouble walking tomorrow.

3.  Made significant progress on my senior project.  Right now, it looks like it will concern the role of fortune in Renaissance romance literature.  The title will include a Pat Sajak reference, which I WILL KEEP at all costs.  If my senior project must consist of writing a 12-15 page research paper, and then reading an 8 page excerpt to a room full of professors, parents, and peers, then I at least need a spark of humor to keep said people alert and engaged.  Who doesn’t love a good Pat Sajak reference?

Back to Morris tomorrow.

I promise I’ll regain my ability to write in complete sentences soon.

Wild Dogs

There was a party last night.  It was a birthday party/LSAT completion party.  It would be, I knew, filled to the brim with philosophy majors and English majors wearing velvet jackets and hoods (the theme was Lord of the Rings).  The house would be clean underneath, for these men knew, as their mothers and fathers had known, that to throw a party is to tidy the house first.  On the surface, however, at least by the time I arrived, there were empty cans and bottles strewn about.  Plastic sheathes that had once held neat rows of Chips Ahoy and Oreo were empty, littered with only crumbs.  There were spills, too.  Splattered on Travis’ shirt and on the couch cushions.  A game of Never Have I Ever was going on; wobbling twenty-somethings sat around a table holding up varying numbers of fingers.  After each question, a large groan would ring out, and cups would raise to lips and fingers would be subtracted, sometimes with drunken sheepishness.

I hate parties like this, when I’m surrounded by people I know, sometimes very well, but I don’t recognize any of them.  That’s the worst thing drinking does to people, I think; it turns  them into strangers.  There’s maybe a small bit of that person buried beneath sips of Red Dog, but when it tries to form a coherent sentence, the result is alien, although draped with an earnestness that is almost piteous.

I left after an hour, having had only about a quarter of a drink, and went home, where I read until I felt like myself again.  And then I fell asleep and dreamed that a family was swimming in one of those natural spring pools out west, and suddenly looked up to find the pool surrounded by wild dogs, who were gnashing their teeth and growling.

Homecoming

True to form, we lost our homecoming football game. 24-49.  I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but that’s how it usually goes at UMM.  We’re smart people, we’re ambitious people, we’re liberal people, but we’re not necessarily athletic people.

It was a cold day to be sitting on metal bleachers, but thrilling to see the bright maroon and gold against the turf, and to eat walking tacos and caramel corn served by Chemistry Club and Student DFL and InterVarsity.

And of course the wind turbines are always spinning on the horizon.

First Day of Twenty-Two

I did some things yesterday.  There aren’t pictures, because I’m a goon, but basically, I had a birthday.

I pulled an all-nighter, of course, only going to sleep once 5:30 (and official birthday time) was upon us.

When I woke up, I tore into the mysterious box that had been looming with promise all week.

Then I grocery shopped.

Then I cleaned.  I did piles of dishes, glared at Joey when he dared to dirty more for lunch.  I swept, arranged chairs, baked a cake, licked the bowl used to mix up said cake, did laundry, made up with Joey after he agreed to mow the lawn, arranged pitas in attractive spirals on a chipped plate, spent an hour creating a party playlist, and changed outfits twice.

Then I paced.  And paced.  And asked my housemates if I could do anything else.  And paced some more after they said no.

I couldn’t decide if it would be worse if people didn’t arrive, or if they did.  You see, now that we’ve gotten to know each other a little better, I feel that I can tell you that I don’t like parties.  I’m not good at mingling, I’m never the most outgoing person in the room, and I tend to shrink into a corner when people start dancing.  And even though there would only be friends at this party, many of whom I have known since freshman year, I was still worried that this party would be some sort of horrifying dud that would involve many polite coughs and eye rolls.

Furthermore, Jordan, not knowing about my meticulously-crafted birthday playlist, had attached his iPad to the speakers.  Upbeat Latin music was blaring, and I was pacing, and the scarf I had eventually decided to wear was feeling more and more like a noose with each passing second.

And then I unplugged Jordan’s iPad and plugged in my laptop.  The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” started to play.  And I felt infinitely better.

The party, of course, was fantastic.  Everyone brought loads of food: sushi, soup, shish kebab, snickers salad, homemade salsa, soda, fruit snacks (it was a college party, after all), brownies, pasta, etc.  It was a little strange to realize that everyone was essentially there to see me, but I tried to bounce around to all the groups, and to talk to every person there for at least a little while.  And, although I invited people from different walks of campus life (there were my friends from my freshman dorm, my English major buddies, and my MCSA comrades), everyone got along and seemed to have a good time.

The best moment, however, was when Maddie walked out of the kitchen holding a lit cake,  and everyone started singing.  I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so perfectly happy.

Moved In

After a series of events involving no curtains and a hmong cucumber, I find myself fully moved into my final Morris residence.

Of course, the lights are off because there are no curtains, and I don’t want every mosquito in town to find me.  And of course, there are two large hmong cucumbers sitting on the counter downstairs, because my landlord lets a sweet couple use her backyard for their garden, and they were kind enough to share the harvest.  I thought about having some spoils for dinner, but lacked the necessary hacksaw.

So now it’s just me, uncovered windows, and the cucumber-that-doubled-as-a-battering-ram.  The house is mostly empty and incredibly echoey, but my room is settled.  Beatles poster, world map, loaded bookshelf, Jeopardy calendar.  That’s all I need, really.  Maybe a bed too.

Groceries

Tonight was one of those nights when you go to the grocery store fifteen minutes before close.  You snatch things off the shelves haphazardly, feeling a little lost without your usual list.  You feel your chest swell with pride when you pick out something that’s on sale, and you stand, cushy tennis shoes on unforgiving tile, for a few moments to deliberate over something that’s not.

Outside, the air has cooled significantly, and the sudden darkness drives you to the sidewalk, where you trot with a gallon of milk in one hand and a bag of palm-stripping weight in the other.  Every so often you have to stop and switch hands, sighing as the numbing gallon settles against your new rope burn.

Back at home, you unpack quietly for a few minutes.  That is, until you pull the large container of oatmeal out of the bag, and open the cupboard to discover an identical, nearly-full container within.  You bought oatmeal last week.