Monday, January 12, 2004

 Happy Not-so-new Year 

Well, finally, 12 days into January, and I finally find the time to restart the trusty old blog. But first, a quick recap of the past month.

The holidays were fine, consisting of time spent with both the new spouse's family as well as my own. One amusing anecdote from the Shellito Christmas follows....

I'd spent a few previous Christmas' with her family, but this year was the first time we had a name-drawing component to the gift-giving. This was done apparently at the behest of Cindy's mother, who wanted a more "toned-down" holiday. Also, in order to make it easier to figure out what to give, we were required to submit wish-lists on Amazon. Cindy seemed to have a tough time coming up with selections from their site that she wanted, and I did too to some extent - still we managed to dig up 6 or 7 items for Santa to choose from. I had no idea how much money someone might spend on my gift, so I chose items from a spectrum of prices, starting at a mere $8 or so going all the way up to a dream DVD collection of Ken Burns' Baseball documentary, clocking in at a healthy $150.

Well, one day after I had created my list, I saw that 6 of my 7 items had already been purchased (with the Baseball DVD collection as the odd one out, not surprisingly). To be honest I was a little peeved to actually be getting all those things, since my intent was not to merely provide a laundry list of items to receive. But that seemed to be the way the Shellitos operate, so I had to knuckle down and accept it. But I was determined to get some measure of revenge - there was no way I was going to follow the "toned-down" script if someone was simply going to check off everything in my list. So I went to Cindy's father's list, and proceeded to buy 7 of the 11 items listed there - all tools, some pricey. (I also realized this would be a great way to ingratiate myself as the son-in-law.)

Cindy also joined in, buying almost everything on her brother's list. In the end, there were probably 30% more presents to be shared this year than last, and I had thought for sure that in going as overboard as we did, that the blatant mockery of the "tone-it-down" directive would result in next year's Christmas having much stronger enforcement of this policy, and a renewed commitment to reduced consumption. Unfortunately, after all the wrapping paper was shredded and every last present opened, Cindy's mother commented how she thought this year's gift-giving was in fact more subdued than last. Alas, my attempt at subtle irony was completely crushed under the weight of all that free shipping from Amazon.

Still, it was fun seeing Cindy's dad's face light up every time he saw that he just got a new tool.

Then we flew back to KC the day after Christmas to do another holiday with my family. My family is a very different experience mostly because of the preponderance of children ages 3 to 14, which is absolutely delightful when you haven't seen them in a while, but later very tiring after about 5 hours in close quarters with lots of present-opening. My sister recently moved into a spacious new house, and we also got to spend an evening there too. (As Californians we are easily rendered speechless when we see the kinds of houses you can get for less than $200K.)

We flew back to California on the 31st, and rung in the New Year in Santa Cruz, including a trip downtown to enjoy First Night along with thousands of other revelers.

There've been plenty of other interesting new developments in the past month too....I'll be sharing those shortly.

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