Well, Christmas this year has come and gone. It has been a very good one.
For us, Christmas sort of began on Thursday the 22nd. Seth, Mandy, and I myself went to the theater to see "Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows" with some friends (I'll be posting a review of it on the ramblings blog soon), and we hung out with them on Thursday evening while Mom and Dad had a date night with "Mission Impossible 4."
On Friday, we had a hectic day of wrapping last-minute gifts and preparing food. In the evening, we went to Houschton to celebrate with the family there. We ate supper and then opened up our presents. Grandma Linda was sick and could not be with us, so we did a nice little surprise for her: we piled into the cars, drove a few miles down the street to her house, and then brought her some supper and sang her some Christmas songs on her front lawn. After serenading Grandma, we went back to the house and just hung out. I played a few Christmas songs on my guitar, and then Mandy, Gabe, and Noah played a few tunes together. We all had a good Friday evening together, and then we went home.
Because Christmas fell on a Sunday this year, we opted to open our presents on Saturday the 24th. So on Saturday morning, we woke up and opened presents. We got gifts of new gloves, a double bass stand, a book of traditional Irish songs (guess who got that one... hehe :) ), new clothes, a Zelda video game for the Wii, and much more. After presents, we had our annual breakfast of quiche and then straightened things up before going to Grandpa Mike's house. We spent most of the afternoon there. The adults talked upstairs while the kids played in the downstairs basement; I got into a Tetris tournament with Seth, Noah, and Gabe, and it was quite entertaining.
Dad and Seth both had Monday off, so we decided to run some errands and spend time together. We did a few returns- exchanges for clothes that were too big. Note to self: never go to the Mall on December 26th. The place was an absolute madhouse, stuffed to the gills with people. You'd think Christmas hadn't even happened yet with all the sales and the throngs of people in each store. After doing our errands, we went to the theater to watch "Mission Impossible 4." After the movie, we went to Longhorn's for dinner, as Dad got a coupon from work. We had a good time together there, enjoying the food and each other's company.
On Tuesday, Seth went back to work though Dad also took the day off. We spent most of the day cooking and cleaning, as we had company over that night. We also a good time with them. Today, I had an impromptu get-together with some friends, which we all enjoyed, even though it was only for a few hours.
Also, on Monday I completed my current draft of my novel "War of Magic." On Tuesday, I did the necessary work on createspace to get the copy. However, I unfortunately misunderstood the nanowrimo prize, so I only was able to get one copy, which I did have to pay for. So, I will not have five copies like I thought I would get. Still, one copy will be fine for now. I should get the book by the end of the week, and I'll try to post a picture of it when it arrives.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable Christmas week this year. I've posted pictures of some of the events on facebook.
This year, the church held another Christmas concert-esque event. Seth and Mandy both participated, as did some of our cousins. Mandy played the cello and sang in the choir, and Seth just sang.
The concert went very well. God be praised that Mandy was calm during her playing and that she played very well without her usual nervousness. Mom also made ten delicious cheesecakes for the reception afterwards; I only got a few pictures, as I got distracted, but needless to say, they were beautiful and tasted amazing. It was a good evening, and we all had a good time with our church body and family members who came out for the event.
I did take videos of the event, but the 18-minute compilation that I put together won't upload on blogger. I did upload it on facebook, but it won't show up here for some reason.
Otherwise, not much else has been going on. Dad and Seth are staying busy with work. Mandy is staying busy with school and her social schedule. Mom has now gotten into Christmas cookie mode. And I've not been doing too much. I'm trying to finish a draft of my novel at breakneck pace so I can use a free printing coupon I got. There are currently two opportunities for me to do some form of editing or writing work, and I'm waiting to hear back from one of them, as nothing has come of it yet. But I'll keep you updated on that.
On another note of performance, I did something that I'd never done before last night: sing karaoke in public. And no, no alcohol of any kind was involved. I went out with my college friends Blair and Christie, as we wanted to hang out during Christmas break, so we went to a little coffee shop in downtown Lawrenceville. The place was somewhat empty and didn't have a lot of people there (and most of them couldn't sing anyway), so it took courage for one solo piece, and then it became addicting. Singing once wasn't an option; I kept wanting to do other songs. I first did a poor attempt of a duet for Mamas and Papas "California Dreamin'", and my first solo song was Enya's "Only Time." A lot of people that night were singing country, so I tried to alternate between genras. During the evening I sang Josh Groban's "To Where You Are," Kelly Clarkson's "Behind These Hazel Eyes," Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song" (another bad duet because Christie and I didn't know this particular version of the song, so it was hard to keep up with the lyrics on the screen), "Haven't Found What I'm Looking for" by U2, and "Summertime" by Ella Fitzgerald (the version on the screen was different from the version I knew, so I stumbled a lot over this one). Even if I sounded awful, I had a lot of fun. I was really getting into it on the stage, something I didn't expect to do; last time I sang in a performance was the youth choir at church, and I got a bad case of stage fright, and my mouth kept going dry on me (and it didn't help that I couldn't sing alto at the time, even though I had been told I was an alto). It was a good evening. I did get sort of tired of some of the bland/ lackluster performances and the frequent country songs (I personally thing that American folk has a lot more personality and variety than country does), and I wasn't fond of the Maroon 5 cover (I hate Maroon 5 and their perverse lyrics) or of the whole Gospel-praise stuff. But, otherwise, it was a good evening. I really enjoyed the coffee shop, and I wouldn't mind going again with my friends at some point in the future.