Christmas ‘Round These Parts

Happy third day of Christmas!

These last few days of year I try hard to practice a virtue a tend to neglect the other 358 days–patience. While the advent season (roughly the first month before December 25th) is all about anticipation as the world awaits the arrival of a savior, the week between December 25 and January 1 always makes me strangely nostalgic for the past and anxious about the future. To combat my anxiety and indulge my nostalgic urges, I cling to the fleeting year as long as I can refusing to think about the things to come. It’s a full 180 degree turn from my usual mode of operation: obsession about the future. The last few days of December act like a suspended window in time in which I forget about my to-do list, my worries and my insecurities and actually manage to enjoy moments as they come.

Moments I’ve enjoyed over Christmas break so far:

  • Reading and finishing The Hunger Games and its sequel Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Friends recommended these books to me months and months ago but I only just got around to reading them due to a busy course reading schedule. The publishers classify The Hunger Games trilogy as “Sci Fi” and you’ll find them on the Young Adult shelf , but if you’re not a science-fiction-enthused teenager you’ll still find Collins’ novels difficult to put down. I’d probably call it a futuristic dystopian adventure novel tossed with a dash of romance and served alongside a hearty portion of warfare. The last time I was this engrossed in a novel I was finishing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the first time. Read these books.
  • Spending Christmas Eve with my husband. We slept in and hopped on the subway to midtown to the Morgan Library to see A Woman’s Wit: Jane Austen’s Life and Legacy. I don’t meet weekly to discuss Austen over tea or anything, but I consider myself a seasoned “Janeite”  and this was an appropriately nerdy way to kick-off Christmas. Dozens of Jane’s handwritten letters, first printings of all her novels and even an original manuscript were displayed in the small exhibit hall. I could have spent hours there. After  watching a film in which a lot of spacey academics with crazy hair and creepy eyes talked about who they would invite to a dinner party with Austen (answers included Freud, Jung, the Bronte sisters, “my granny” and “nobody”) we slipped out to take a look in some of the other rooms. We stared open-mouthed at the surviving first manuscript of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and wandered around Morgan’s study for a few minutes before leaving for Rockefeller Center. I think the average age of the museum’s visitors increased by about twenty years when we left. We visited the famously large tree, shoved our way through the crowds on fifth and sixth avenues and bolted uptown for a quaint dinner at a little Dominican/Cuban cafe on the Upper West Side. Traditional Christmas Eve activities included the consumption of hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls, the viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the reading of  the Nativity story in Luke and opening Christmas pajamas sent by my mom.
  • Despite the fact that Graham had to work a nine hour shift on Christmas morning, this Christmas day was one of the best I’ve had in a while. I rose early, made cookies to bring to Graham’s work, delivered said cookies and returned home to watch assorted Tim Allen Christmas flicks while preparing way too much food. I think I spent a total of like 7 hours in the kitchen. When Graham got home we opened presents, finished cooking and finally ate dinner: Steak with whiskey-pepper sauce for Graham, Fried Eggplant with the sauce for me, mashed potatoes with an amazing chickpea gravy, homemade rolls, (vegan) caesar salad with homemade croûtons and gingerbread apple pie for dessert. There were two of us. We have a lot of leftovers.

In case you care, I received a lot of wonderful presents. My parents got us a new monitor for my old laptop with a cracked screen so that Graham and I don’t have to share my laptop anymore. This will come in very handy on days when I take my laptop on wild adventures in the school library. Graham’s brother Ian gave me A.J. Jacobs’ latest book The Guinea Pig Diaries. I didn’t enjoy it as much as his previous books, but that’s as much criticism as I can muster for Jacobs whose writing is always thought-provoking, engaging and wonderfully funny. In true Badger fashion, my in-laws also gave us two John Eldredge books and a couple of other books about conflict resolution and leadership. Looks like Graham and I have a lot of reading and character-quality building to do in the new year.

From Graham “the mega-gifter” Badger I received a new copy of Ulysses, The New Bloomsbook (A Guide to Ulysses), a Fawkes the Phoenix journal, lots of dark chocolate, a James Joyce sticker set and a shiny red tea kettle to replace my old electric one.

Now I have no excuse not to read Ulysses and I’m excited and scared out of my mind. There’s a reason I’ve put it off since I first discovered Joyce’s shorter, more accessible works a few years ago. More about how I feel about Joyce soon. I think I might even blog my way through Ulysses. Maybe start a new internet phenomenon? ReJoMoJa (Read Joyce in the Month of January)? Okay, wishful thinking.

What did you get for Christmas? Would you like to join me in reading an allusion-heavy book by an Irishman with an eye-patch this January?

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One response to “Christmas ‘Round These Parts

  1. So so so glad you and Graham had a great first Christmas together as husband and wife 🙂 I have yet to get to the Hunger Games either, but I’m working on it…I’ve also never tackled Joyce. I think I have some things on my list for 2010. Oh, and thanks for the compliments on my blog. It’s intimidating to do it, but I’m liking it and I think I’ll actually stick with it this time. Yes, the adjustment’s been rough, but I just keep telling myself that my mom is happy, and I think that’s enough for me. She’s been alone for a long, long time. She deserves this. Love you!!

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