Last night we went to Matt's Aunt Paige's house for the beginning of our Christmas festivities. The feast was amazing as usual - Paige cooks like she is an understudy of Paula, Giada and Ina. After stuffing ourselves silly (apparently just continuing the trend), we retreated to the living room for a round of Dirty Santa. Each "participant" in the game brings a gift-wrapped package of something from their home that they no longer desire. Perhaps it's the one thing that's been sitting your "regift" basket for years, or the smelly lotion set that just isn't your flavor (could it be the glitter?) or maybe even that Spin Shade you were just given the day before and had no idea what to do with it. (I'm just sayin'....) Everyone draws numbers, and the lowest number picks a gift. Up the number count you go, selecting gifts that draw reactions from uproarious laughter (leopard print hat) to genuine delight (Santa Claus wine coozie?) to curiousity (Spin Shade, again.) After the last person picks, back down the numbers you go - you have the option to keep your gift or steal another person's gift. This was a relatively tame group, as far as the pilfering goes. A pair of snowflake dish towels went through 3 grabs, and I caused a little family tift by stealing a set of word puzzle and sodoku books from my SIL, but most of the grabs were fairly benign. That is to say, no one dared claim the grape-smelling teddy bear from the six year old!
Today, despite their being 4 days left until Christmas, Matt and I took down our holiday decor. Last year the lights twinkled on our tree from October until almost February. It is quite sad and anticlimatic to see the bare mantel and empty front porch now. My Christmas spirit feels as deflated as our blow-up Santa, stuffed in his tupperware bin back up in the attic! We are going to be in and out over our Christmas vacation, and I was dreading taking down the decor and tree without his help in January (when interview season kicks in again.) But, in a few days, we'll be home with family and my mom's collection of snowmen (in the hundreds, I daresay) will more than make up for the fact that Santa won't find our stockings hung by the chimney with care. In the meantime, maybe I can convince Matt to mute the Panthers game and put the Holly station on the XM, instead. Or... not.