Category Archives: Christmas

Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas, everyone! Vivian and I are wrapping up another whirlwind holiday season here in Nebraska, sharing time, food, and gifts with family and friends over the course of a week or two.

P1020260.JPG P1020266.JPG

The weekend before Christmas, we had something of a family get-together with Jonathan, Nathan, and Ranae joining us on Friday night to see the premier of Tron Legacy at the Twin Creek cinema. Vivian and I had watched the original Tron a few weeks earlier in anticipation of the sequel, and I have to say that I was very impressed with how they managed to continue the story so well after 28 years. Of course, the visual eye-candy is what made the film so much fun to watch, but I also decided the plot was much deeper than the 1982 film (which felt more like a cheesy and clunky excuse to use computer graphics).

After the movie, we had everyone’s favorite breakfast-for-dinner down at Village Inn and then returned to our house to open presents before going home. Vivian got some vanilla bath soaps from Nathan and Ranae, and I got a book I’ve been meaning to read — Never Eat Alone: by Keith Ferrazzi. (Ironically, I’ll probably be reading it on my lunch break … alone.)

P1020291 P1020300

On Christmas Eve Eve, Vivian and I celebrated our fourth First Date Anniversary. We went down to the Old Market and had a very unique dinner at the Passport, where Vivian had duck with an orange glaze and I got to try ostrich steaks for the very first time. We made the obligatory trip to the Old Market candy shop afterward to get some egg nog fudge, then went down to the bench along the Gene Leahy Mall to not kiss for a few minutes before heading over to 13th Street Coffee to warm up.

We wrapped up the night by watching The Voyage of the Dawn Treader back in Bellevue, which was quite enjoyable. I read the books years ago but remembered very little, so watching the film made me want to start reading some of the Chronicles of Narnia once again.

P1020312 P1020337

We spent Christmas eve day happily doing as little as possible, wrapping presents and watching the movie Elf. We attended the Christmas Eve service at Twin Valley church for the first time. Pastor Drew had a message about the original St. Nicholas for the kids, and we sang a variety of Christmas songs, along with Silent Night by candlelight.

We had Jack and Donna over for some Cheese Fondue back at the house, which was quite tasty. It came in the form of a mix Vivian picked up at Trader Joe’s and I got to enjoy it with parsnips for the very first time. We opened a boatload of presents afterward, which included a new hard drive and some red shorts for me, a chocolate fondue pot and a Snuggie for Donna, a book on grilling for Jack, and a new shirt and a book on cheesemaking for Vivian.

P1020395 P1020426

On the big day, we opened some presents at home via telephone with my parents and then stuffed ourselves with hors d’eourves and Christmas dinner at Vivian’s parents’ house. Vivian’s co-worker Sherry, her husband Rob, and their son Matt joined us for the feast, as did Onion-Boy and my brother Jonathan. I got to try my hand at carving turkey for the first time, which wasn’t as easy as it looked. Our meal came with party favors that included small paper crowns (that we all put on immediately). Afterward, we opened our stockings, which had plenty of innuendo going around thanks to such gifts as “monkey butt” powder and “caulk saver” (as if nobody knew that was going to happen). We also had a more-than-welcome visit by everyone’s favorite Christmas dinosaur, Santa Saurus.

We returned home and had a few more gift exchanges with Jonathan, which included a boxed set of Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies for Jonathan (from mom and dad), a box of chocolates for Vivian, and some Weird Al CDs for me (both from Jonathan). We spent the Day After Christmas together watching Devil Fish (via MST3K), the Mouse that Roared, and eating pizza and leftovers to round out the weekend.

Christmas in North Carolina

Vivian and I were able to spend a lovely couple of days in North Carolina visiting my parents over Christmas. We were fortunate enough to escape the ice and snow that hit Omaha on Christmas Eve and had only a slight delay flying in from Chicago.


Vivian and I landed with enough time to attend a Christmas Eve candlelight service at my parents’ church in Buies Creek. We woke up relatively early on Christmas morning to open presents. I received a couple books from my parents, a USB hub from Nathan, an iPod video adapter from Jonathan, and a new mouse from Vivian. I gave Vivian a music stand, and my mom put together a collection of recipes for foods I liked to eat growing up. I think that was more a gift for me than for Vivian. My dad got some nuts and some DVDs, and my mom got the world’s tiniest frying pan from my dad. She apparently wanted a “small” frying pan, but this little thing was apparently designed to fry hummingbird eggs (one at a time).

At noon, we had a traditional Christmas dinner together, which at our house means turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce (with leftovers to last for a couple days). We spent the rest of the day dissolving into blobs playing an old copy of The Ungame and watching Holiday Inn.


On Saturday, the four of us took a day-long trip down to Wilmington, a picturesque little resort town along the coast. It seems North Carolinians are especially fond of their fried chicken, with several chains such as Church’s, Chick Fil A, and Bojangles thriving when they don’t exist in the Midwest. We enjoyed some artery-clogging goodness at Bojangles, before moving on to tour a battleship.

The U.S.S. North Carolina served for a couple years in World War 2, but it now serves as a tourist attraction. Vivian and I got to play with some turret guns and see where a couple thousand servicemen got to sleep, eat, and work while at war. It was a fascinating trip, and we didn’t even get tired walking up and down dozens of tiny, harrowing flights of stairs.

We were able to get a brief glimpse of the ocean that afternoon before having dinner at the King Neptune Restaurant before going home.

DSCF0006 DSCF0090

On Sunday, we went to church with my parents and had some genuine North Carolina barbecue down at Ron’s Barn, a well-known local eatery. Barbecue in the south consists of shredded pork with a sauce made of red pepper and vinegar, which takes a little getting used to.

Afterward, Vivian and I took a walk around campus and enjoyed the gorgeous fifty-degree weather, just perfect for a walk through a cotton field. We weren’t missing Nebraska’s ice and snow one bit, and we enjoyed having a green Christmas.

Later on, we stopped by the Cotton Museum over in Coats, where we got to see some old cotton processing machines and quilt patterns used as covert signals in the Underground Railroad.


On Monday, our last day together, we had breakfast at the Red Barn restaurant, a favorite place for the Gideons group my dad belongs to. My dad showed Vivian and me some of his old, stored treasures afterward, including my grandmother’s cut glass, tiny clothes he wore as a baby, and his old ‘coon skin cap. That evening, my dad fried up some “rosettes,” little flower-shaped donuts dressed with powdered sugar. We rounded off the evening with a round of Pictionary before packing up to go home.

It was great to be home for the holidays, and we were quite happy to spend a couple days away from the ice and snow back in Narnia. A winter full of crisp and cool 50-degree days could be very easy to get used to.

Married Christmas

Another eventful Christmas season has come and gone once again. This one was special, of course, because it was our first Christmas as a married couple. I suppose we were fortunate, in a way, to have been able to see my side of the family a few weeks ago when we gathered for Grandma’s funeral in Cedar Rapids, because we were able to celebrate with both sides of the family a bit this year.

IMG_9234.JPG IMG_9244.JPG

Vivian and I celebrated our second first date anniversary down at La Casa Pizza on Leavenworth, the restaurant I intended to take her to on our actual first date, but found it was too crowded that night.

Then on Christmas Eve, we dropped by the Bellevue Christian Center, Vivian’s old church, to attend their candlelight service. They had a couple very cute skits and several of our favorite Christmas songs to sing together. After the service, we drove up the road to have dinner with Vivian’s parents and open a couple presents. It was a memorable occasion for me, because I got to learn for the first time that there is, in fact, a big difference between “yams” and “sweet potatoes.” I’d grown up calling those orange things mashed up with marshmallows and brown sugar “sweet potatoes.” In fact, sweet potatoes seem to be golden yellow mashed things that you dress up with butter and garlic instead. At least that’s the way Jack does it.

We opened a couple presents, including Dilbert on DVD and a book on marriage from my parents, and Vivian surprised me with a lovely pair of black dress shoes! They’ll be perfect for dancing once I break them in.

IMG_9287.JPG IMG_9328.JPG

On Christmas Day, Vivian and I made some bacon and eggs for breakfast together and watched It’s a Wonderful Life on the couch, snacking on some egg nog and pumpkin pie fudge throughout the morning. We also opened more presents. Vivian gave me the Star Wars Robot Chicken video, which was hilarious, and I gave her a sushi starter kit among other things.

We gathered at Vivian’s parents’ house together that afternoon. We stuffed ourselves with hors d’oeuvres, and then filled what space we had left with turkey, stuffing, and green bean casserole. Vivian invited Eric and her friends Sherry and Rob to join us. My brother Nathan also came. Sherry is quite an artist, so we enjoyed passing a sketchbook back and forth and “improving” one another’s artwork. We opened our stocking presents later, which included such trinkets as a colored pencil frog, a boxing snowman pen, and mismatched socks. After the presents, some friends left and others came to play an extended two-hour game of cut-throat solitaire together before calling it an evening.

I was busy getting photos and video here and there and put together a brief video summary of the season for you all below. It includes footage of our Christmas tree, Vivian’s office Christmas party, and gathering at her parents on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas, everybody! We’ll see you all next year.

Married Christmas

The Christmas Update!

Merry Christmas, everybody! My brother Nathan and I are celebrating this week by flying out to North Carolina to visit my parents and my other brother Jonathan in Buies Creek.

IMG_6068.JPGOn Sunday, the night before we flew down, Nathan and I went to visit with Vivian and her parents at their house in Bellevue. Donna had a beautiful display underneath her tree of tiny Dickens’ A Christmas Carol houses and miniatures. The five of us had dinner together, and then we got to open a huge assortment of gifts and stocking stuffers.

Among the gifts were chocolate penguins, nuts, a pocket calendar, nail trimmers, nuts and nutcrackers, a toy top, and a number of things. I got From Vivian, I got a Superman Christmas ornament, a remote control car, and MacFreelance, a billing and time-keeping software package for the Macintosh. It’s made by a company called Macware, which I discovered is located right in Omaha.

IMG_6077.JPGI had presents for Vivian’s parents, and I gave Vivian a green cashmere sweater, a plush Tigger, and a couple little things. Nathan got her some Ghirardelli chocolates, which I have since become addicted to. We had a great time together, and I was overwhelmed by Vivian and her parents’ generosity. We opened a package of egg nog fudge I had bought from the Old Market candy shop to celebrate the season before heading on home for the night.

The next day, Nathan and I flew on our to North Carolina. Vivian is taking care of the beige bomber for the week. The flight out was uneventful, and we actually got there 20 minutes early. We flew with Southwest, which always seems to go smoothly. Jonathan was still working when we arrived home, so we got to have dinner together and I hung Vivian’s Superman ornament up on the family Christmas Tree.

IMG_6124.JPG IMG_6120.JPG

When Jonathan returned and the whole family was finally together again, we opened presents. I got copies of iLife from Nathan and Quicken from Mom and Dad, making this a Christmas where I received more Macintosh software than any other. I also got some Super Mario cartoon DVDs from Jonathan. Jonathan got four classic NES games from Nathan and me, and Nathan got Madden 2008 and Super Mario Galaxy from mom and dad, which should be loads of fun to play if we can manage to get an analog adapter for his Wii. We also got some cans of pringles, almonds, and Extra brand gum from mom, which were all easily consumed shortly after being opened.

IMG_6152.JPG IMG_6168.JPG

Christmas Day proved to be lazy and wonderful. We watched a couple episodes of Mystery Science Theater, and Jonathan had plenty of episodes to go around again this year. I also brought out the remote control car that Vivian gave me and had a tug-of-war with Jonathan’s little remote control monster truck.

After a lazy afternoon, we got together for a nice Christmas dinner at the end of the day, with a turkey breast and all the usual extras: stuffing, sweet potatoes, sweet pickles, and pumpkin pie. It was a lovely Christmas, but the best part was being able to have the whole family together again for a whole week of Christmas.

Countdown to Christmas

IMG_5925.JPGYou can feel the excitement building in the year as we get ever closer to Christmas this year. On Thursday, Vivian and I went to the Westside Church Christmas Pageant. It was an elaborate production titled “I’ll be home with Bells on,” spanning three seperate stages in their giant auditorium, featuring singing, dancing, and even live camels, sheep, and goats that paraded through the aisles during a few of the numbers. It was the biggest Christmas show I’d ever seen before.

On Friday, Vivian and I took a massage class together at Metro’s south campus. Vivian took a few classes there years ago and was spellbound at all the construction of a huge new addition joining the original two buildings together.

IMG_5952.JPG IMG_5940.JPG

On Saturday, Vivian went to a party for her girls’ bible study, leaving me to fend for myself during the day. I retreated down to the local Crane’s Coffee show to finish up some work and then retreated to the Mall of the Bluffs for another session of Lindy in the Mall. That was a good time, as always. That evening, Viv and I went to a party in the cute little town of Blair thrown by her old bible study friends, Dennis and Kara.

IMG_5980.JPG IMG_5978.JPG

On Sunday, Vivian and I went to church together and then went to see It’s a Wonderful Life at the Durham Western Heritage Museum, and then spent some time touring the museum afterward, checking out the exhibits of historic buildings in Omaha and model rooms from decades ago to show what typical life was like throughout the years in the last century or two.

We have one more week together before Christmas, and then it’s off home to North Carolina to visit my parents for a week.

Flying home to Nebraska

It’s our last day in North Carolina, and it’s been a lovely week of doing almost absolutely nothing with the family. One memorable moment came a few days ago when my dad let us into one of the lecture halls at Campbell University to play some Perfect Dark on their big screen. I was finally able to lose to my brothers while being able to view my square in something slightly larger than a postage stamp.

Tonight, around 6:25 PM Eastern time, my brother and I will by flying on home to Nebraska. Then tomorrow I’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve with some of my web comic buddies in Ames, Iowa and learning some new swing dance steps from some longtime friends of my buddy Dusan “Legostar” Jeftinija. Naturally, I’ll have some pictures from that to share as well.

Here’s to hoping the weather’s tolerable all the way home!

Christmas Vacation, Part 2

It’s been a great week here so far with my family in North Carolina. My brother and I flew in on Sunday and have been hanging out with my folks and my brother all week. We had a lovely Christmas dinner on Monday and opened presents. We all pretty much got a bunch of DVDs and books that we’ve been enjoying all week. I got Police Squad (the TV series that spawned the Naked Gun movies), The Wizard, Triumph of the Nerds, and Amazon Women on the Moon to satisfy all of my geek cravings. I also got Season One of Punky Brewster, a show I grew up loving and feeling almost ashamed to admit it now. It’s such a cute show.

We went to eat with the folks a couple times this week, stopping by a Waffle House today and a place called Mama Dip’s yesterday. I got to try Chitlins for the first time in my life, and let me tell all of you out there, you don’t ever want to be anywhere near this stuff. I won’t go into details, but the smell alone from these things is like a barnyard. I actually ate one piece and nearly got sick, but hey, you have to try new things if you ever want to live life to its fullest! We’ve also been spending loads of times watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a bunch of other movies. This week has really reminded me of what a vacation is really all about–getting away from your everyday drudgery and being able to do nothing for a little while, just so you can put everything else in your life into perspective. Sometimes I get so caught up with my job, my freelance work, and my online projects that I don’t have time to sit back and see it all in perspective.

I’ll have more pictures to share once my Internet connection isn’t quite so unstable!