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Zoomsmas

Started: 2021-01-14 21:15:13

Submitted: 2021-01-15 00:21:12

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A holiday by video conference

On Christmas Eve, I was wrapping presents when I discovered that I was out of tape. This was, I assumed, because Julian had claimed all of the clear tape in the house and used it to create a series of abstract art installations. I took a trip to Summit Store to pick up more tape, and the check-out clerk said something to the effect of, "Oh I know what you're doing". I returned home with the tape I needed to to finish wrapping all of the presents, stockpiling them under the tree for Christmas morning.

Presents wrapped for Calvin and Julian from Uncle Willy
Presents wrapped for Calvin and Julian from Uncle Willy

Early in December, Julian asked me how many days were left before Christmas and then asked me to draw a Christmas tree count down the days until Christmas. He took this piece of paper into his room, taped it to his door for easy access, then marked off every day until Christmas.

Julian marks off the days before Christmas
Julian marks off the days before Christmas

For Christmas Eve dinner, we observed my family's tradition of cheese fondue — because fondue is delicious but if we pin it to a single holiday a year, we won't be tempted to eat it too often.

Jaeger, Calvin, Sharon, Kiesa, and Julian sit down to cheese fondue
Jaeger, Calvin, Sharon, Kiesa, and Julian sit down to cheese fondue

We don't, strictly speaking, have a fireplace in our current house, with a mantle on which we'd hang Christmas stockings; but we do have two separate wood-burning stoves, one of which had enough space to hang stockings. (I assert that, in this picture, one can almost pretend that the bamboo on the stove is the Christmas tree; but the real Christmas tree is next to the other stove in the living room.)

Stockings hung by the stovepipe with care
Stockings hung by the stovepipe with care

(We've never actually used the stoves, mostly because we ended up putting things much too close to the stove that we'd have to remove if we wanted to use the stove. In theory we could use the stove to heat the house — or at least the main living areas — but in practice the propane-fueled furnace works better, at least as long as the power is on.)

Christmas tree on Christmas morning
Christmas tree on Christmas morning

By Christmas morning, the presents were stockpiled under the Christmas tree, and the stockings were stuffed on the mantle next to the stovepipe. The kids opened their stockings when they woke up, and Julian was excited to get a deck of (Mario-themed) Uno cards; he asked me to play with him when I got up, and I had to double-check the rules to make sure I remembered everything. (Apparently the rule I remember growing up with, that playing a "Reverse" card in a two-player game skips the other player, is not technically canonical; but it seems like the right thing for a two-player game, so I introduced it as a house rule.)

Julian plays Uno
Julian plays Uno

I gave myself in my stocking a wooden model of a BART D-stock railcar (the "fleet of the future" now in revenue service), with magnetic couplings to interoperate with other toy trains. (Though I couldn't help but notice that it used a standard track gauge, meaning it's not actually authentic to BART's broad-gauge rolling stock.)

Wooden scale model of BART D stock
Wooden scale model of BART D stock

Kiesa got me a sparkly banana slug ornament, which I immediately hung on the Christmas tree.

Banana slug ornament
Banana slug ornament

We ate breakfast (honoring the part of my family tradition where we made sure the dishwasher was running before opening presents, but avoiding my family tradition of then doing unrelated house or yard work because inspiration struck), then settled into the living room to open Christmas presents, briefly accompanied by Kiesa's mother on FaceTime.

Calvin, Kiesa, and Julian open Christmas presents
Calvin, Kiesa, and Julian open Christmas presents

Calvin and Julian had the most presents, because everyone we knew had sent them several presents (and then, generally, expected us to intercept and wrap them because they'd drop-shipped them from Amazon or whatever, which was what I was doing on Christmas Eve when I ran out of tape). For the adults, we were somewhat more restrained, with only a couple of presents each. But as a consequence, Calvin and Julian had plenty of presents remaining after Kiesa, Sharon, and I had opened ours.

Calvin watches Julian open a Christmas present
Calvin watches Julian open a Christmas present

For Christmas, Julian decided to give us all gifts, which comprised of him building something abstract out of Duplo or Magformer, then wrapping it in a box labeled for each other person in the family.

In the afternoon, while Kiesa was working on Christmas dinner, I had a long video call with my family.

Christmas table set for dinner
Christmas table set for dinner

Then we sat down to an expansive Christmas dinner.

Jaeger, Calvin, Sharon, Kiesa, and Julian sit down to Christmas dinner
Jaeger, Calvin, Sharon, Kiesa, and Julian sit down to Christmas dinner

Followed by dessert.

Yule log for Christmas dessert
Yule log for Christmas dessert

This was the first Christmas I can remember where we didn't visit family, because the COVID-19 infection rate graphs keep going up and to the right. (We thought Thanksgiving was bad, but we hadn't seen anything yet. The best straw we can grasp it is that the second derivative seems to be improving.) But we still managed to enjoy the holiday, complete with video calls to both sides of our family, while we otherwise enjoyed our time at home.

"Yes, this unit of Infantry has a Priest with them. He can pray to his
pagan gods and heal the Infantry. These units over here have
Magicians. They summon these big fireballs..."

And then you'll have to explain the Ceyah.
- Zan Lynx, on explaining Kohan: Ahriman's Gift, 19 August 2003