Christmas family-style is usually not exactly in keeping with the whole "peace on Earth/goodwill towards men" thing that's at the heart of the Christmas season. In fact, Christmas family-style can often be downright bad, and I have sworn for several years in a row that I'm done with it. However, this Christmas was actually. . .wait for it. . .good. I attribute this to one of those rare Grinch-like epiphanies:
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store .
"Maybe Christmas. . .perhaps. . .means a little bit more!"This Christmas, we agreed NOT to exchange gifts, but to donate to charity instead. I embraced this concept wholeheartedly (since it was my idea), as did my dad, who has been lobbying for a "reasonable" Christmas for about as long as I can remember. Brian was torn between his principles and his desire to replace an abundance of CDs he's worn out. Laura, whose intial response to the charitable Christmas plan was, "But I want stuff!," took a little convincing but eventually came on board. The only real holdout was Mama F, who compromised by making a sizable (I assume) donation to a Katrina fund and limiting herself to gifts that would fit in our stockings. Thus Brian got his replacement CDs, I got a replacement digital camera, Laura got some sweater sets, and my dad got various pocket-sized sudoku books. Although this was not exactly in keeping with the no gifts theme, it was a step in the right direction and all parties involved were quite pleased with the results. For the first time in many years, Christmas was low-key and enjoyable, and it felt like Christmas is supposed to feel (see "peace on earth/goodwill towards men" above).
In addition to having a good Christmas day, I also had a very nice Christmas vacation. I spent a few days in Northern Virginia, which gave me an opportunity to catch up with old friends (special thanks to Mark and Driscoll for making the trek to Noonan's!). Almost as importantly, I was able to visit Tysons II (*shudder*) to hit the after-Christmas sale at my beloved Anthropologie! Other highlights of my break: Christmas Eve in Charlottesville with Dave's family, a very yummy pre-New Year's dinner at Steve and Jen's house, a too-brief visit with Nisha and Trey, a haircut (at long last!), and a solitary New Year's Eve walk on the beach.