I feel for Brandi, truly, I have deep sympathy for her each December. It can’t be easy having so many December babies in her life. Her mom’s birthday and mine are just three days apart in the first week of the month. Then, of course, there’s Christmas. But, wait! There’s more! Her younger brother’s birthday is the very next day. By the end of the month, she’s financially ruined. Of course, she’ll recover sometime around late March. I kid, obviously; Brandi is great about anticipating the financial hurricane of December, and she generally shops year-round, and has her Christmas shopping wrapped up shortly after Thanksgiving.
As a December baby, myself, I adore this month. I love to celebrate, and there is so much to celebrate in December. We kicked off the month with a family dinner at Slackwater, one of our favorite Ogden restaurants, to celebrate Brandi’s mom’s birthday. As much as I love having a full house for Thanksgiving, it was nice to spend the evening with just immediate family. It’s a different quality of conversation, and you really get to catch up with one another in a way that you can’t over the bluster of a large family gathering. We had just seen our little nephew the week prior at Thanksgiving dinner, but I swear he was already taller. I think his bed might double as a taffy puller.
I took Thursday and Friday off this week, as a birthday gift to myself, to relax and decompress a bit. Of course, my version of relaxation is to do as much as I possibly can with the time I have available and then complain about how little time I have to relax. So, while Brandi was working, I got a few projects done.
I have this room in the basement where I can sequester myself and play guitar without disturbing the peace. During our kitchen remodel, we repurposed the room for storage, and we never really got around to completely unpacking everything we had moved down there once the remodel was finished, so the room was still pretty full of those seldom-used items that we didn’t care to find a home for in the new kitchen—things like the ice cream maker, the waffle iron and several thousand water bottles. So, I spent a good chunk of my first day off relaxing by finding homes in various closets, cupboards, drawers, and trash bins for those items to regain my music room and restore peace and quiet to rest of the home.
Friday was all about Christmas! While Brandi was at work, I got the house all lit up. I go crazy for Halloween—for years I’ve put up fun story-driven displays with skeletons and headstones and lights and fog in the front yard, but despite my best intentions, I’ve never put up Christmas lights. I always plan to, but the season tends to get the best of me, time slips through my fingers, and before I know it, it’s New Year’s Eve. But on Friday, I finally tackled the exterior illumination with only a single Griswold moment (no, I didn’t fall off a ladder, just had a lousy string of lights fail to show up for work). And I think I did alright for my first go at it. I even dolled-up the baby pines in the back yard. Brandi says we’re festive AF now, and I don’t think she’s wrong.
Friday night was date night. Our date nights are usually date nights with Ogden too. Ogden nights, we call them (or Ogden days, I suppose, if the sun is still hanging around). We went downtown for the grand opening of the new Dumke Arts Plaza where we heard some wonderful poetry and some excellent live music, followed by a stroll through the Monarch to do a little Christmas shopping from some fantastic local artists, but I can’t tell you much more lest I spoil some gifts for folks who might be reading this.
For dinner, we decided to finally try out Wimpy & Fritz, a new taco place that started out as a food truck and built a brick & mortar shop earlier this year, and um… look… no offense to the rest of the taco shops around the world, but Wimpy & Fritz has you all looking like Taco Bell. Hands-down, these were the best tacos we have ever had. This might be a new favorite spot.
We got home full of beans and went to work setting up the tree and hanging the stockings. We have a few traditions to which we adhere pretty strictly.
- We watch Elf while we decorate.
- Every year, we buy a new special ornament. We started with our tree topper way back in 2006. In the beginning, we just found fun, kitschy stuff at Target or a gift shop in the mall, but over the past several years, we’ve tried to find ornaments that remind us of a special trip, or a particular time in our lives. In fact, we’ve bought the majority of our ornaments over the past decade on trips to the national parks. It’s a great tradition we hope to pass down to our kids—every year when we decorate the tree, we take a little walk down memory lane as we put up those ornaments.
- Any time we’ve had to replace one of our dog’s tags, we have repurposed the old tag into an ornament. Originally, I just thought they’d look nice on the tree, but since we lost Manny, our magnificent Yorkie, to heart failure a couple years ago, those ornaments have taken on a new meaning. They’re a reminder of Christmases we spent with our dogs, and they give us a good reason to talk about those memories.
- We drink eggnog. But not this year. Because of the beans.
Finally, Saturday was my birthday. I won’t spend too much time here, other than to say that we spent the evening surrounded by some of the most wonderful people we know, eating good pizza, listening to good music, and having some great conversation on topics ranging from Marvel movies to neuroscience. I may or may not have, at one point in the evening, waxed poetic about my fascination with tangible media and how incredible I find it that songs can be etched into plastic and delivered with a diamond; no microchips or software required. In retrospect, that might have been the conversation that finally cleared the room.
On that note, Brandi crushed it this year, despite having so many December babies in her life. She got her Beatles-loving, vinyl-obsessed partner the perfect gift. This December baby has been playing it on repeat all weekend.