Saturday, December 26, 2009

Good Morning, Internet!

It's 9AM, and our brand new, beautiful German cuckoo clock just went off. It's the real deal, straight from Germany with beautiful pinecone weights for the winders and a tiny little bluebird for the cuckoo. And it goes off every hour on the hour. And every half-hour. We've had a little trouble getting the weight just right on the pendulum, but it chimed 9 times at 9:00 AM (and 10 at 10:00 AM), so I'm thrilled.

Of course, I am alone to revel in its beauty. Every other soul in this house is sound asleep. Scratch that; I think Mark just got up.

We had a marvelous Christmas. My mom gave Burgundy and I matching monkey slippers, and she gave Burgundy jeans and a dress and Julia some cute, pink scrapbooking supplies.

Julia had gifts sent over from Germany; they were so awesome and sweet! She gave me a fountain pen and refills (I raved over Burgundy's at the beginning of the school year), a beautiful necklace, and a jar of pear jam. I seriously considered hand-writing this entry before posting just so I could use the pen, but I realized my hand would be so sore I wouldn't want to type it later. Alas, the pen sits unused. For now.

For Mark, they sent a bottle of cherry liqueur (it's 80 proof, y'all!) for use in making a real Black Forest Cherry cake; if we weren't totally sugared out from the holidays, I would make one today! She gave him a magnetic desk toy and a really nice set of markers like the ones she brought over for herself. He'd been eyeing her marker set enviously because, like me, he's an office supply hound. Oh, and she gave him a triangular protractor. These presents (with the possible exceptions of the markers and the liqueur) would bore me to death, but My Favorite Nerd loved them. They were perfect for him, as mine were for me.

They also sent a gift to the family: the German cuckoo clock I mentioned earlier. It's so beautiful, and I've wanted one for so long.  I'm just thrilled.

We had two gifts that kept us in screams of laughter all morning. The first was Burgundy's gift to me: The first one opened. She gave me a miniature hazard sign with a motion-activated fart detection and warning system. Every time someone took a picture, the flash set it off; sirens wailed, the orange light flashed, and a loud voice would yell, "WARNING! DANGEROUS GASES DETECTED! FOLLOW-THROUGH IS IMMINENT! WARNING" There were seven or eight other messages, all of them equally hilarious, but that's the one I remember.

The second hilarious gift came from Julia to Burgundy. Early on, Julia asked what Burgundy would want for Christmas. I explained that Burgundy collects nutcrackers, and a genuine, German-made nutcracker would be enormously precious to her. Julia was really excited about this, and immediately called her parents and set them to work. Christmas morning, Burgundy unwrapped her first gift from Julia: a long slender package containing a really sleek, very sophisticated, and undeniably usable nutcracker.

And Burgundy compares last year's UT nutcracker to this year's Genuine German nutcracker.

Mark scored major points this year with jewelry. A stunning ruby and diamond necklace, earring, and ring set. Mark is really not a jewelry guy. Aside from my wedding ring, the only jewelry he's ever given me is a set of white gold hoop earrings. I think it really tears at his inner utilitarian to give people he loves things they can't really use. That makes me extra happy and honored to receive these from him. It means he not only saw what I wanted, but overcame his own urge to pragmatism to buy them for me. AND he bought them on Black Friday, which was when we were in the midst of huge Marital Distress. It was bad enough that we were talking divorce while crying with each other because we didn't want to. That he went out and bought me something so beautiful, romantic, and impractical in the midst of that hell and upheaval really speaks to my heart. I love that man; I really do. The chains around our necks were a gift of bling from Burgundy to Mark.

There were tons of other gifts, but I'll hit some highlights. The t-shirts I ordered for Mark and JB had not yet come in, so I printed the cartoons for each of them and put them in their stockings with a note that said, "You shoulda had this on a t-shirt." I bought Mark the Useless cartoon, and JB the woodpecker (the t-shirt only has the last panel).

Burgundy got a photo printer and scanner. Both girls got Doc Marten vinyl knock-off boots; Burgundy received bright green, and Julia received hot pink. I bought them both tights, and Burgundy also received  two more charms for her charm bracelet: a monkey (because I call her Rat-Monkey) and a music note. I tried to knit them both socks; Julia received two socks both knit to about the 3/4 mark, and Burgundy received one fully knit sock. They both received a pair of felted slippers, and I knit Julia a Giant Stocking of Doom to match Burgundy's.

Surrounded by their puddles of goodies, I said, "Okay, it's time to open your big gifts now." I waved Julia's smallest package in the air.

Julia said, "What? There's a big one after all this?"

Realizing I'd just potentially given something away, I said, "Yeah, we bought you a ticket home!" Julia huffed (she sounds just like Meryl Streep doing Julia Child when she huffs), and we all laughed; I told Burgundy to open her present, and she discovered the printer.

I handed Julia her gift. She said, "I can't believe there's more after all of this!" The terrible irony is that we paid nowhere near full price for any of the gifts. Burgundy's biggest gift was about 70% off. For Julia's we paid just over half price. She tore the wrapping paper off and removed the protective film and then just sat there with her mouth hanging open and said, "You're crazy! You're all just crazy!" We gave her an iPod touch.

We'd planned on spending about $170 on each girl. We originally bought Julia an iPod Nano for about $140, and then I picked up everything else she received in her stocking and in regular gifts for right at $30. I found leggings on clearance, tank tops on clearance, etc. About a week later, our friend Anthony came to us and asked if we still needed an iPod for Julia for Christmas. He'd received an iPod Touch - what Julia really wanted and had planned to buy for herself until I dissuaded her) - from the company he was leaving, and he planned to sell it. The Touch came with a package of protective sleeves and a $15 gift card. All together, the package was worth about $225. Anthony offered to sell us the package for $150. Off to Fry's Mark ran to return the Nano, which after tax had been $149. So we managed to do this HUGE Christmas for her while staying more or less on budget.

For Burgundy, we found her biggest Christmas present, the printer, for $30 on Black Friday. I picked up it and the biggest family gift, Beatles Rock Band, on three hours' sleep that morning. The Rock Band game was much cheaper, too, going for $150 instead of $200, if I remember correctly.

I know Mark got a deal on my jewelry, though of course, I won't ask him. The really exciting things are that once again, we've had a wonderful, fun, relatively stress-free Christmas with Burgundy's dad, and we did our Christmas on budget.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

1 comment:

  1. I think this is my favorite post ever, because I love your family. I hope we get the opportunity to have an exchange student when my kids are older, too. I think this experience is wonderful for you guys, and for Julia. I want that for my kids, too.