Moving from California to Ohio

Part 3: Christmas in Wisconsin

In my family, Christmas celebrations are more concerned with vi sting extended family and feasting than they are about celebrating Christ. I am not sure how to respond to this.
Since my parents gave me a camera as a High School graduation present in 1999, one of our family’s Christmas traditions has been a photograph of our tree illuminated only by its lights. The 2006 edition is shown above. That camera is one of the best presents I have ever received.

As you can imagine, even a tree as well-decorated as ours does not emit much light. Capturing this image on film requires a tripod and 6-8 seconds of exposure. It also requires all the other sources of light in the house to be extinguished or blocked. I think the effort is worthwhile.

An unexpected bonus in this photograph is seen to the right of the tree just below the clock. Above is an enlarged version of that section of the photograph. In the oval frame is a photograph of my sister Crystal and I when we were much younger.

My family traditionally has two Christmas parties. One is a small gathering of our immediate family on Christmas Eve; the other is a larger gathering of our extended family on Christmas Day.

This is my sister Crystal next to our Christmas tree. You can see her high-school graduation picture on the wall on the right-hand side of the photograph.

In our Christmas Eve gathering, we were joined by

my Aunt Marie
and my Uncle Roland and Aunt Heidi.

This post is out of order because one of the presents my parents received for Christmas is a digital camera. My mother took several pictures with it during my stay with my family for Christmas of 2006; many of them are included in this entry. I could not complete this entry without those pictures, which Crystal sent to me by e-mail recently.

Another present my parents received is the Santa Claus doll photographed at left. You may notice that he is striking a rather unusual pose; that is because this is no ordinary representation of Father Christmas. When one pushes a button at the doll’s base, this Santa gyrates and dances while singing “Are You Ready for This?”

For proof, play the video below.

This may seem like a strange or inappropriate way to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but it was not my idea!
Many people have used many words to describe me; photogenic is not one of them.

As is also traditional in our family, I played Santa by delivering the presents from under the tree. I did not receive many gifts because I had warned my family that I would not have much room in my suitcases. Despite this warning, I still had to leave a few presents behind, such as a large jug of hand soap. The presents I did have room to pack include a collection of 50 sci-fi films on 12 DVDs, several hand towels, and a set of kitchen utensils. I have not made time to watch most of the movies, but the utensils have been useful on a daily basis.

Now, we move on to the Christmas Day gathering of my extended family. My maternal grandmother and her husband were this year’s hosts. In this photograph I am talking with my three of my cousins, two of whom are from Arizona.

In the lower left corner of this photograph is my grand-aunt Florence. She is my maternal grandmother’s sister. This was her last Christmas on Earth; she died early in the morning of June 4, 2007. Next to her is her sister Doris; partially obscured by the chair is her daughter Juanita.

My step-grandfather Louis is in on the right, and another cousin from Arizona is on the left.

Both Christmas gatherings involved large quantities of very good food. Roast Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, fruit salad, stuffing, and a host of dishes and drinks so delicious that remembering them still makes me salivate. I spent a good deal of time listening to stories of my relatives lives, including one who recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. Since I had not seen many of them since the previous Christmas, I also spent much time telling them about my research, friends, and experiences in California.

While in Independence, which is my hometown and where my parents still live, I took the opportunity to visit the family of a friend I have known since high school.

I did not bring my film camera on the visit, so this is how Vanessa and Brian look when photographed by my mobile phone camera.

Vi sting and playing with their children was very fun because they are very playful, affectionate,
and cute,
most of the time.

To conclude this Christmas celebration, I introduce you to Savannah, new daughter of one of my sister’s high school classmates.

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