The Holiday Report

With this post, I do declare that sometimes staying home for Christmas is even better than advertised. This was the first year that Kristin and I stayed home for Christmas throughout our 8 years of marriage -- no cross-country flights to NJ, or international flights for travel, fifteen-hour drives through east coast snowstorms -- just she and I and our new house.

And my loud-talker of a brother, Joe.

The three of us spent Friday on the slopes at Stevens Pass, where a week of rain and miserable conditions chased the crowds away. I put my trust in the cadre of weather forecasting sites I have bookmarked and was pleased to find relatively good conditions, untracked powder on the mountain's backside, and empty slopes. Kristin signed up for a 2-hour group ski lesson and was treated to one-on-one lessons while Joe and I laid tracks through the double-black powder bowls on the backside. Everywhere we went, we were the first ones there and, if only for a day, we were kings of the mountain.

Our whirlwind weekend continued Saturday at Seahawks stadium where we watched the Seahawks go up 13-3 on the Colts prior to Peyton and company getting yanked from the game. Watching the Seahawks' coach succumb to the fans cheers and give Shaun Alexander an opportunity to tie the NFL all-time touchdown record late in the game made staying to the final whistle well worth it. I'd say we'll likely see the Colts again in February in Detroit, but I don't think they're going to make it through the playoffs without a loss.

We arrived home from the game to find the neighborhood in a total blackout. Of all the nights to have a power outage, Christmas Eve has got to be among the least desirable. No Christmas lights. No visible decorations. And no electronic means of distracting one from the undesirables in their midst.

Fortunately, the power came back on just in time for us to get ready to go out for a nice Christmas Eve dinner, care of my mom back in NJ. And so we went to the fabulous little Italian place nearby and had a wonderful, albeit expensive, dinner. How does one cap off such a good day? With hours of Monopoly around the kitchen table, that's how. Nowhere to go in the morning, no kids to wake up early for, no breakfasts to attend. Why not stay up till the middle of the night playing boardgames?

Sunday came and Kristin made us a nice french toast breakfast before we did presents. By the time Sunday came we had way more presents under the tree than we deserve. Packages of gifts arrived throughout the week from those on the other coast and we had them spread out under the tree, alongside the piles of gifts for my wife, myself, and my brother.

I'm not into doing the whole play-by-play of what I got and what I gave, but I will share a couple highlights with you. For starters, my brother and I bought each other identical long-sleeve Polartec base-layer shirts from REI. Same size, same style, but different color. And had the REI in Seattle have had a gray one, we would have matched colors too.

Kristin surprised me with a few items, but best of all she got me the one item I was really hoping for -- and she swears she bought it before I even really started talking about my desire to have it. And that is the Suunto X6 altimeter watch. The watch can log your elevation at 2 and 10 second intervals and plot it against time --perfect for cross-country mountain bike rides and hikes. It also monitors weather, has a built-in clinometer, measures descent/ascent rates, and also has a compass and wealth of other features. I think I need to go back to school to figure out how to use it.

Lastly, since we were't blowing a grand on airfare this year, we decided to allow Santa back into the house. Mr. Claus brought us an electronic dartboard that supports up to 8 players and has 32 different games pre-programmed. We're turning a room upstairs into a bit of a barroom and this will come in handy. Mrs. Claus wasn't as fun with her gift but far more adventurous. She got us a very nice set of plates and dishes that are specifically made for serving suhshi. She included a sushi cook.. err, raw book.

We wrapped up Sunday with a nice dinner and good company. My mountain-biking friend Ken, with whom I rode in BC this past fall, joined the three of us for dinner. In addition to bringing a spectacular pair of french wines over, he helped round out the teams for a game of Cranium before calling it a night.

And this concludes my holiday wrap-up. It was non-descript compared to our past years and, in a big way, that was what made it kind of nice.

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