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Christmas 2019

Started: 2020-01-01 11:31:29

Submitted: 2020-01-01 14:06:41

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator visits family and celebrates Christmas

I started my Christmas vacation early on the afternoon of Friday, 20th December. I left work after lunch and drove to Ballard to pick Calvin up from school (where he was dismissed from school an hour early). We headed to the Majestic Bay Theater, a small three-screen theater in central Ballard, for the 15:10 release-day showing of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

(I remember when Star Wars movies were released at midnight -- I attended the midnight showing of Episode II in Walla Walla at the end of my senior year of college -- but midnight showings seem to be out of fashion now. Instead theaters started showing the movie at 18:00 on Thursday evening; but I thought that would be disruptive to our evening before Calvin's last day of school for the calendar year, so I picked Friday afternoon instead, still within twenty-four hours of the movie's release.)

Calvin was thrilled to see a new Star Wars movie. As a ten-year-old, he's just about prime Star Wars age. I enjoyed the movie, wrapping up the current trilogy: it was a very Star Wars movie, with big stakes and explosions and running and shouting and interesting people making hard choices. I have some quibbles with THE BIG REVEAL (I think I'm still in no-spoiler zone) but it was executed well. I was impressed how well General Leia Organa was present in the movie, and the obvious tribute to Carrie Fisher made me cry in the theater. (After seeing the movie I told Calvin that Carrie Fisher had died three years ago, before shooting any of the movie, and he was surprised because it looked like she was really there.)

Calvin, Julian, Kiesa, and Jaeger sit down to fondue for the solstice
Calvin, Julian, Kiesa, and Jaeger sit down to fondue for the solstice

Saturday was the solstice, an astronomical event that has special meaning to me now that I live in gray-and-rainy Seattle, giving me hope that the days will be longer again and I might see the sun again. (The precise moment at which our planet's axis was tilted the furthest from the sun was 20:19 PST, which seemed too much of a coincidence to pass up. I set my alarm so I could send "Happy Solstice" messages at exactly the right moment.)

We adapted my mother's tradition of cheese fondue and moved it to the Solstice, on the theory that my mother is mostly-vegan now so I wasn't sure we could count on having cheese fondue on Christmas Eve.

Calvin and Caleb apply cookie icing
Calvin and Caleb apply cookie icing

On Sunday we drove to Bellingham to celebrate Christmas with the Stone family. The kids decorated cookies (and, because we restricted them to one cookie each, they took the obvious incentive and dumped as much icing as they could on the single cookie).

Stone family photo shoot
Stone family photo shoot

Then we took family photos; and finally the kids got to open their presents.

Caleb, Calvin, and Julian open Christmas presents
Caleb, Calvin, and Julian open Christmas presents

The kids got animal-themed slumber bags, matching the one Caleb already had, so we staged a photo of the cousins in their matching bags.

Julian, Calvin, and Caleb in their slumber bags
Julian, Calvin, and Caleb in their slumber bags

(I think, when taking pictures of people indoors, I should attach neutral density badges to my photographic subjects so I can always have a color reference to adjust the white balance.)

I didn't have anything planned to do on Monday, but I didn't feel compelled to go to work for one day before the holidays, so I stayed at the house; then went to pick up my new sunglasses at my optometrist's office in Queen Anne, joining the rest of the end-of-year crowd trying to use up their benefits by the end of the tax year.

Motoko packed for Christmas
Motoko packed for Christmas

Tuesday was Christmas Eve. We loaded up the car and drove I-90 across Snoqualmie Pass. I had been watching the forecast carefully in hopes of finding good conditions on the pass; if it looked like conditions would have been better on Monday we could have left as soon as Kiesa got off work in the middle of the afternoon. I wasn't enthusiastic about driving all the way in the dark, and getting into Walla Walla at night; so when the weather forecast suggested that conditions on the pass would be fine on Tuesday we stuck with the original plan and drove on Tuesday (and, in the end, we didn't pack until Monday night so we wouldn't have been able to leave on Monday afternoon anyway).

As forecast, the pass was clear. It was partly-cloudy when we stopped for lunch at Mod Pizza in Yakima; then the sky grew cloudy as we continued east on I-82 (driving on a stretch of Interstate highway I don't think I've ever driven on before, in either direction) to I-182 spur into the tri-cities. Once we were in Pasco I recognized the roads again; we took US 12 the rest of the way into Walla Walla, finding the rest of my family at my parents' house there.

Grandpa, Julian, Aunt Bethany, Calvin, and Kiesa at Christmas
Grandpa, Julian, Aunt Bethany, Calvin, and Kiesa at Christmas

I set up a family photo, using the self-timer on my camera to (only slightly awkwardly) trigger the photo and insert myself into the picture. I might have been able to get Calvin to make a better expression if I hadn't been more concerned about inserting myself into the picture; but at least it's his authentic posing-for-a-photo face, and he probably won't be embarrassed by it for at least a couple of years.

Logan family Christmas photo 2019, feat. Calvin and Julian
Logan family Christmas photo 2019, feat. Calvin and Julian

Despite my fears, my mother flexed her veganism to allow cheese fondue on Christmas Eve. Willy ate hummus, and seemed to at least tolerate the obviously-non-vegan incursion into the menu.

Sitting down to Christmas Eve dinner
Sitting down to Christmas Eve dinner

Once the kids went to bed, the adults attempted to stuff the stockings hung on the mantle. Several years ago (I think around the beginning of the decade) I successfully petitioned my family to transition from free-for-all gift giving to a model of drawing names among the adults, so we didn't have to buy a bunch of stuff for everyone, and could instead focus on a single person. But the stockings are still a free-for-all, and they were entirely inadequate to handle the onslaught of gifts, however tiny, placed in them, so the gifts spread out onto the mantle above. I visited the pop-up Google merchandise store in my office the week before Christmas and got small, Google-branded trinkets for everyone in my family. (This is where Julian got the "Google" sticker on his shirt in his pictures on Christmas.)

Stockings hung on the mantle
Stockings hung on the mantle

Then it was Christmas. Calvin got up at 06:00 to open his stocking; the rest of us followed at a more reasonable hour. Julian tried to open Uncle Josh's stocking; I think he read the "J" and thought it was his.

Calvin and Julian play with the Legos in their stockings
Calvin and Julian play with the Legos in their stockings

After breakfast (which, as expected, lasted until almost noon) we sat down to open presents. Calvin and Julian ended up with the most presents, since they get gifts from everyone (including people not physically present).

Bethany opens Christmas presents, with Willy, Josh, Calvin, Kiesa, and Julian
Bethany opens Christmas presents, with Willy, Josh, Calvin, Kiesa, and Julian

The kids enjoyed opening their Christmas presents.

Calvin reacts to a Lego present
Calvin reacts to a Lego present

We wrapped up Christmas with a walk to the Walla Walla University campus (to get out of the house, and to pick up some Pokestops), and then Christmas dinner.

Julian opens a present
Julian opens a present

On Thursday, Willy left to fly to Mexico to see his fiancee. (Due to some poor coordination, we ended up overlapping our time in Walla Walla by only forty-eight hours.) In the evening we staged a trip to Walla Walla's one movie theater to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker again. (Calvin and I saw it again; the rest of the group was seeing it for the first time.) I enjoyed seeing the movie for a second time in a week, though I knew all of the story beats before they happened. (Calvin watched Bethany at certain key moments so he could see her reaction.)

After the movie, back at my parents' house, we stayed up late to finish the Golden Gate Bridge puzzle Bethany got for Christmas.

Bethany with the assembled puzzle
Bethany with the assembled puzzle

Bethany and Josh left on Friday morning. Calvin finally decided he couldn't wait any longer and put together the Lego set he got for Christmas.

Calvin and Julian play with Christmas Legos
Calvin and Julian play with Christmas Legos

I took the time to wrap up my end-of-year charitable donations, getting everything in before the end of the tax year -- with several days to spare!

Calvin with the assembled Lego mixed-use building
Calvin with the assembled Lego mixed-use building

In the afternoon, to get out of the house, we went to Whitman Mission and walked around the historic site. This is, apparently, the first year the museum has been open over the winter, and the ranger inside was excited to actually see people to tell about the site. Calvin and I watched the twenty-five minute documentary of the mission, dramatizing some of its historic moments, putting it into the context of the mid-nineteenth century; including a very blood-free version of the killings of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman. Overall I thought the movie, and the museum, did a good job of showing all sides of the story.

Julian walks on the wall at Whitman Mission with Kiesa
Julian walks on the wall at Whitman Mission with Kiesa

Kiesa and I left Walla Walla on Saturday morning, leaving our kids in Walla Walla in the care of my parents for the next week.

For more photos, see the photo set Christmas 2019.

I *am* going to be rejected several times tomorrow.
- Centurion, 09 November 1999