[The title has a year included because some of this prose is being recycled from a similarly-named piece in 2011. Not all of it is old, though, and the photos are new, so you can't just skip to the end and say, "I saw this last year, you slug!"]
[Well, you could, but then I'd know you were the shallow sort of person who doesn't actually read all of my carefully-chosen words, poring over them for hidden meanings and universal truths.]
[I'll let you know, however, that there aren't any hidden meanings in this piece. It's just my usual murdering of the language. There may be a universal truth or two, but they probably snuck in without paying.]
[And now that I've satisfied my compulsive need to preface the obvious with superfluous explanatory parentheticals, here we go!]
Yes, this is The Very Lovely Silver Tree I told you about, but did not have a photo of, way back when. As usual, my photography does not do my subject justice. I truly think it's the most beautiful Christmas tree I have ever seen. MY WIFE bought it this Christmas as a present for me. She did exceedingly well in doing so.
She also bought a spinning color wheel that throws lights of varying shades onto The Very Lovely Silver Tree. Due to my ineptitude with a camera, you probably can't see much of that effect. That's OK. The Very Lovely Silver Tree is still damn nice. Here's the spinning color wheel, though.
As I’ve mentioned in years past, MY WIFE and I celebrate Little Christmas. That is, while we have our allotment of standard-issue Christmas merriment with relatives and friends during the traditional December holidays, we wait until January 6th to exchange presents with each other.
Some of you may wonder why we do this. That’s certainly understandable, given that January 6th receives little play from the merchants and media. As far as those people are concerned, the Christmas holiday is over at midnight on December 25th and it then becomes time to push Valentine’s Day candy out onto the shelves. January 6th, however, is The Feast of the Epiphany on the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. It is sometimes known as The Feast of the Magi (the "Three Kings" of Christmas carol fame) or, by some, as Little Christmas. It is the date when, according to tradition, the wise men visited Jesus and bestowed upon Him the gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.
Are you one of those people who wondered why there were twelve days of over-the-top gift giving in the song "The Twelve Days Of Christmas"? Well, the actual Christmas season, at least in some European civilizations, runs from December 25th until January 6th. This being the case, it can reasonably be argued that the 6th of January is a more correct time to exchange presents in honor of The Lord’s nativity.
MY WIFE and I decided years ago that it made eminent sense to delay our own gift giving until that 12th day of Christmas. In that way, we would eliminate much of the stress associated with what should be a joy-filled celebration with friends and family. We would concentrate on others, during the more secularly-traditional Thanksgiving through December 25th time period, and then devote our efforts to each other during the 12 days following.
(This is, of course, another one of the reasons why I get so amazingly pissed off when Christmas advertising and holiday music begin in late October or very early November. Not only does it do a disservice to the wonderful American celebration of Thanksgiving [which occurs on the fourth Thursday of November]; it also utterly ignores the rightful 12 days of festivity that occur at the end of December and beginning of January. My Christmas runs through January 6th, so if I acquiesce to their greedy mercantile demands, I’ll be singing a stretched out and thinned-to-absurdity Hallelujah over perhaps a 75-day period. That’s far too much water in anybody’s holiday soup.)
Before our "Little Christmas", though, there is time with family on the 25th. Here are the only photos I took worth publishing.
(I actually shot about 35 of them. That there are only six [including The Very Lovely Silver Tree already seen] that I feel are worthy of publication should tell you all you need to know about my mad photographic skillz. Remember, these are the good ones.)
That's My Mom on the left, and my stepfather, Bill, on the right. Notice the somewhat doubtful expression on My Mom's face? That's the general look of trepidation that everybody in my family gets when I drag out the camera. They know that, more often than not, their reputations will not be done any favors by my photography.
The shot was taken at my Uncle Rick's house. All shots, except for The Very Lovely Silver Tree, are from there. Not only am I a crummy photographer, but I am also a forgetful one. I didn't take a single photo of any of the festivities which took place with MY WIFE's side of the family at our home. I exclaimed "D'Oh!" about four hours after everybody had gone home. Truly a shame, too, as it was a fun time with wonderful people, and even if the photos would have been as ridiculously inept as most of mine eventually end up being, I still would have liked to have had some for my personal recollection of the events.
My Mom and Uncle Rick.
This was the first Christmas since My Grandma (aged 105) passed away. She lived in that house for quite a bit more than sixty years, I believe. Uncle Rick did a magnificent job of decorating the place and making it a warm and wonderful home to be in for the holiday. I truly wish I could have captured that on film. Unfortunately, most of the shots I took are similar to this one...
... in which we see Uncle Rick's lovely tree destroyed by my tendency to not focus before clicking.
Honestly, I do try. I think I'm doing it correctly at the time. It's only when I see the shots, after the fact, that I realize a chimp on meth could have done better.
Speaking of chimps on meth...
This photo is decent because I'm in it. Not that I'm stunningly adorable or anything, but me being in the picture guarantees that I'm not the one taking the picture.
I'm a huge fan of Fred Rogers, as many of you are aware. I love the shirt. However, can you imagine my mug coming at you, wearing a shirt that says "Won't You Be my Neighbor?" Property values would dive as quickly as have Rick Perry's hope of becoming our next president.
This shot, of Bill opening a present, probably gives the best overall sense of how nice a place Uncle Rick's was that day. It looks comfy and friendly, doesn't it? Well, it was. Uncle Rick is sitting next to Bill, while my Cousin Scott and his lovely wife, Andrea (two of my favorite people, and that would be even if they weren't related to me) are in the background.
Finally, we have this...
MY WIFE despises having her picture taken. Surprisingly, it is not just when I'm the one behind the camera. In her lifetime, she has acknowledged, I believe, one good photo of herself (and, personally, I think she looks like she was just released from Dachau in that one, but I digress.) Anyway, in deference to her desire not to be shown on this blog, I have cleverly disguised her here. You probably can't even tell which one is her, and I hope she appreciates my hard work.
Merry Little Christmas, my friends. See you (relatively) soon with more better stuff.