One Gift Exchange Down, a Week's More to Go

It's that time again. Two years have passed and our semi-annual pilgrimage to New Jersey for the holidays is once again upon us. Kristin and I celebrated our own secular version, known coloquially as Giftmas, tonight and had a great time. I finished her grandmother's DVD just as Kristin got home from work and after watching the slideshow and bribing the dogs to come inside, we were off.

First dinner at Tokyo, our favorite Bellevue sushi restaurant, then it was off to the Taproot Theatre in Seattle to see "It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" which was as excellent as everything else we see at this small community theatre. The play was, as the title indicates, the traditional telling of "It's a Wonderful Life" but set in a 1947 radio station. We, the live studio audience, were treated to watching the cast act out the famous movie as old-time radio storytellers. They were aided by the terrific sound effects of "Carlo the Sound Guy" in the background. As the star of the play said in the program, it's two plays in one. You get to see and watch the actors in the radio station (complete with occasional advertiser jingles and Applause light) and see them act, but you also hear the telling of the title story and enjoy that story in your mind's eye. Kristin and I have really enjoyed attending this theatre the past couple years and look forward to our "season tickets" for next year.

After the theatre, it was time to stop at the Rogue Brewery to pick up a few bottles of their fantastic barleywine to lug back east with us as Christmas gifts. With the fancy flip-top bottles of 11.5% alcohol ale in our possession, we could finally go home and exchange gifts -- once we finished wrapping them that is.

If you've been reading this blog for any bit of time then you are already aware that I'm anxiously awaiting delivery of a new mountain bike frame in the coming weeks. You also know that I recently purchased a pair of Lake Winter MTB shoes that, on sale, fetch close to $200. Because of this I implored Kristin for the past two months to not really get me anything for Giftmas. That I am already well taken care of. And then some.

And for once she listened to me.

Sort of.

Kristin really had fun picking me up a bunch of small-ticket items like fleece socks, Clerks II on DVD, a book, and a gaggle of Russel Stover chocolate marshmallow Santas. She also picked me up a nice leather case for my new iPod. I wish that was all, but she also gave me a very comfortable corduroy jacket and some new cologne.

As excited I was about opening the gifts, I was even more excited to give her her presents. If I do say so myself, I'm a terrific gift-giver. I usually pick out most of Kristin's clothing and often do most of the shopping (or at least decision-making) when it comes to buying gifts for her family. This year, I had some clothes for her, as always, but I also had plenty of toys for her too. Some new winter running tights, electric shoe dryers, rubber/metal running crampons for trail running on the ice, and the GPS wristwatch she wanted so badly. The Garmin Forerunner watches are truly exceptional in their ease of use, compact size, and functionality and I'm excited to see Kristin actually want such gadgetry. In truth, I'm a bit jealous as the watch she just got is likely a good deal more accurate than my Suunto altimeter I received last year. But she's training for a 50k trail run in the spring and is eyeing a 50-mile trail run for later in 2007 or early 2008. I'm glad she's getting back into ultra-running and psyched that she wants to track her distance and elevation gain. Although, speaking from experience, I think she's insane.

Kristin did also surprise me with a pair of matching suitcases that she got from the Samsonite outlet store. Our ten-year old luggage had just about had it and she scored a hell of a deal on a pair of discontinued bags. They normally retail for $380 apiece, but not only were they marked down to $170, but Samsonite was also having a deal in which you can buy one and get the second for half-off. These bags are freaking swank too! Much nicer than the stuff we've been using (which definitely served its purpose over the years). To be honest, I was actually beginning to hate packing in the old bags because one bag was too small while the other was too huge. Now I got the whole Goldilocks "just right" thing going on and I'm looking forward to packing. Not only that, but it will be a nice change of pace to have a bag that doesn't fall over when you let go of it.


Well that certainly got long-winded. Sorry about that. I guess I'm subconsciously making this extra long because I will likely not be posting until the New Year. Tomorrow we take the red-eye back to New Jersey and begin our whirlwind tour, hitting up aunts and uncles Sunday night for an annual Christmas Eve Party, then it's Christmas with my in-laws, the day after with my mother and sister, Wednesday in Philadelphia with my sister, Thursday at my father's, Friday with my friends, then Saturday at Kristin's parents' beach house and then back to the airport. Phew. I'm exhausted just describing it.

I will sneak away a couple times to the gym to try and sit in on a spin class or two during the week. Oh, and speaking of cycling, we got an email from the TransRockies race director today confirming that next year's race will be roughly the same as the 2006 race, but the race direction has been reversed. We will now be zigzagging north to south. This doesn't really matter to me at this point because it's not as if I know the route anyway. But it does mean we will likely drive the whole way to the starting location on the 10th so as to get an extra half-day of acclimitization, as the first stage will feature the race's highest elevation.

There I go, digressing yet again. Let me just wrap this up now, eh? If you read this blog out of some weird family obligation you feel compelled to inflict upon yourself, then I will likely see you in the coming days. If you stumbled upon this blog at random (or are a west-coast friend who I won't see for the rest of 2006) then let me just say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, and Happy New Year to you. I hope you have a great week doing whatever it is you do and enjoy a healthy start to your 2007.

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