Christmas open thread

We have an open thread today and tomorrow.

A Homebound Nation Goes All Out With Lavish Christmas Decorations
Americans have been putting up an abundance of lights, Santas and even flamingos to create some extra holiday cheer this year

Have you decorated more lavishly this year?  You can share your holiday decoration photos in the comments anonymously by using imgur.

Did you get any new ornaments this year?



104 thoughts on “Christmas open thread

  1. I want to wish you all lots of joy however and even if you celebrate!

    I like being able to talk with you, my anonymous internet friends, and I learn a lot from you.

    Please be well!

  2. We had many outdoor lights already sitting in our garage and I changed up my Christmas tree two years ago. We bought a few ornament replacements and that was it.
    Our neighborhood did have a holiday lights contest. Some people had very nice light displays. One neighbor has the pink flamingos. The others did the standard lights in the trees and bushes. DH and the kids decorated the outside. We didn’t do anything extra from the normal this year.

  3. We didn’t decorate outside, but we bought A LOT more presents for everyone this year.

    Happy holidays, everyone!

  4. We added an inflatable nutcracker for the grandkids this year.
    I wanted to send it home with them after their visit, but DS thought he would miss us so he is still here. We are supposed to get snow today so DH will probably have to deflate him and tuck him away for next year. Not sure he was built to withstand snow and ice. (He falls down a lot during high winds).
    Have a lovely holiday everyone!

  5. Christmas Eve is the main event over here, not the orgy of presents in the morning, so neighbors are already celebrating. I dropped off cookies for a couple of them, and we will celebrate in the morning, with a surprise stash of little presents and cactus that DS doesn’t know about.

    We did minimal decorating, but did a major clean when the GF came over for the first time, including rearranging furniture which of course meant dust bunny removal, so the place feels nice. A poinsettia, holiday throw blanket & pillows (had the classic throw pillow argument with my son), jingle bells, a few sparkly lights & candles.

    Germans don’t typically do displays outside their homes. This year we’ve noticed a lot more small displays like one big lit star on a porch/balcony or lights in windows. We had to laugh when we went to the house of a family who used to live in the US—they decorated the hedges out front, but only on the side facing the house! It was undetectable from the street. I had to think of Mooshi when I cut through a courtyard the other day. Up on a balcony, maybe the 2nd floor, was a great big inflated snowman. I think it blocked the balcony from front to back. A classic star hung next to it. Blow-ups aren’t usually my favorite, but this was very cute.

    For such an agnostic/atheistic country, Germany does a lot of Christmas. But of course many of the customs, like lights on a tree, were Germanic before Christianity ever arrived, so it makes sense to me in my agnostic heart.

    Merry Christmas to you too, Fred. I’m also grateful for you & our imaginary internet friends. I wish you all cozy, happy days to wind up the year, and “ein guten Rutsch” (a good slide) into next year.

  6. For those who haven’t seen it Rick Steves has a one hour European Christmas Special:

    With Monday the shortest day or the year and the vaccine out it looks like things are on an upward trajectory. A reminder that as in so many things – this too shall pass.

  7. Rhett, last Monday, right? I remember noticing that sunset was going to be at 3:55, a tick better than the 3:54 of a day earlier. Pretty soon the change will be noticeable daily, no clock or calendar needed. I love that.

  8. You know I love my Christmas lights. This year I had to take them down for the roof project, so I had to improvise.

    This display requires commitment, because they come by once a week to service it, and they open the door to do that.

  9. “With Monday the shortest day or the year and the vaccine out it looks like things are on an upward trajectory. A reminder that as in so many things – this too shall pass.”

    I appreciate this reminder!

    We drove out the other night to see a street where 25 people wrap themselves in Christmas lights and dance to Christmas music along the sidewalk. Evidently they haven’t done it in years, but decided 2020 was the year to break out the light people again. It was so much fun!

    Merry Christmas one and all!

  10. Yes, I did have to take one version down so the painters could use it. Since then we’ve been waiting to schedule the gutter guy so I’ve only had to work around the weekly service.

  11. SBJ, I love it!!

    We went to see the lights at the Bronx Zoo last night. We met another family there and it was nice to be with other people. They did a great job at the zoo even though it was $$$ to visit.

    We drove around some different neighborhoods last night to see decorations. It is pretty with the snow remnants, but a very large rain storm tonight will probably wash away the snow. Very high wind gusts again in the forecast and I doubt Con Ed has a bunch of extra people working on Christmas.

    Merry Christmas!

  12. SBJ, I tip my hat to you and your 2020 attitude toward holiday lighting! That is fantastic!! Thanks for the laugh!

    For whatever you may celebrate or not, a very Merry Christmas, a belated Happy Hanukkah, a blessed kwanzaa and winter solstice. I especially wish you all much joy and HEALTH.

    Thank you all for being open and honest, I continue to learn so much from you.

  13. Locally, we are expecting heavy rain starting this evening and lasting through the day tomorrow, with wind gusts up to 70mph. Eversource, our electric service provider, took a lot of public heat after raising rates significantly right on the heels of a bad storm in August that left many for days without electricity. Over the past few days they have made pre-emptive phone calls urging people to charge devices, buy fuel for generators and to expect power outages that could last for days. The message mentioned being without power during the holidays is a burden and that planning is more difficult because of Covid. The message added that they have cancelled vacations to ready their response. Interesting PR.

  14. I love the lights SBJ. Makes me regret that I didn’t decorate the dumpster next door…but then again, I don’t know the haul away schedule.

    We got 8 inches last night (and a Blizzard) and we are thrilled to have a white Christmas. Blue sky this morning ups the spirits. Below zero temps, so sledding will wait for tomorrow. On a whim I tried my hand at a new shortbread cookie. The dough was too crumbly, so I smashed it into a brownie pan and smeared strawberry jam on top. The bars are falling apart, so it is a cookie you eat in bowl with a fork. Still delicious!

  15. SBJ that is fantastic! I decorated more inside than usual, and hope (over DH’s objections) to leave it up for a while because it makes me happy. We have fewer presents than usual because no one really needs anything. I’m wrapping up some hand made “when you find something you want, I’ll get it” cards. But we’ll have good food, play board games, watch the Festivus episode of Seinfeld and FaceTime family, so it will all be lovely.

    Have a lovely holiday, all. Like others, I really value this site and all of you. Despite the craziness of the year, better days seem to be on the horizon.

    I think lots of people are feeling the lack of gatherings this year, because we are getting cards from people we have never received from before, and I’m getting holiday greeting text messages from old friends today. Even though I miss some of the face to face contact, the warmth and genuine good will comes through, and I’m finding it very heartwarming.

  16. That’s truly awesome, SBJ.

    We did our usual amount of decorations this year — no more, but no fewer. I buy Christmas ornaments from places where we go on vacation. Sadly, there were no vacations this year, so unfortunately there are no new ornaments.

    DS passed his road test and got his driver’s license yesterday! I am really happy because (1) he is happy, (2) this means he won’t be in a bad mood for all of Christmas break, and (3) he can now drive himself to work. #3 is big, since for the past several months, DS has been the person who has been responsible for opening the supermarket on Saturdays and Sundays. Which means that he has had to be at work at 5:30 a.m. Which, until now, has meant that DH or I had to drive him (or drive with him, when he just had his learner’s permit) at 5:15 a.m. I used to joke with DH that some parents are hockey parents who have to drive their kid to the rink before the crack of dawn, and some parents are crew parents who have to drive their kid to the boat house before the crack of dawn, and we’re supermarket parents who have to drive our kid to the supermarket before the crack of dawn. But those days are over!

    Merry Christmas to all who celebrate, and wishing everyone else a relaxing long weekend. I am grateful to have you all in my life.

  17. “Did NoB Jr. tell us where we’re going? No, he just said he was sending the jet and it would be a surprise.”

    Mark my words.

  18. Happy Holidays to you all. We actually did a little less this year. SO still doesn’t have his full energy back meaning just the basic lights. New tree that DD#2 decorated…she went a bit minimal…but did sort through and we gave away decorations in our neighborhood group. None of us want stuff just to have stuff. Everyone is getting what they want or need. As we all adjusted to remote learning/working in the same household last Spring and DD#2 going to college as a freshman, we spent a fair amount between March and August on things leaving fewer “needs” now.

    Made Christmas cookies for the first time in a few years. Getting out the last of the Christmas cards today.

    Honestly, I just feel perpetually behind. I am tuning up my phone to only make noise for text and calls as my cell is also my work phone. Trying to eliminate distractions. Also working on decluttering more this holiday season, which always helps my mood.

    S&M – Did you send me anything? I did check my email but didn’t find anything.

  19. NoB – Congrats to your DS ! Here, there would have been a road test after 60 hours of accompanied driving but the DMV waived that, so teen drivers and their parents submitted the log, certified that it was accurate and the teens were allowed to drive by themselves without a road test for now.,

  20. NoB, Congratulations to your DS, and enjoy skipping those early morning co-pilot trips. When DS got his license, we converted him from a debit card to a credit card so that he would always be able to get gas, pick up lunch for all of us, or run other errands.

    We are doing less with gifts this year. We plan to celebrate Christmas in July in person with the San Diego family. So many of our gifts with them are Raider joke gifts, and that doesn’t work as well remotely.

    I wish everyone good times with loved ones and some time to refresh and recharge for the remainder of these strange pandemic times.

  21. Rhett — I was chatting with NoB Jr. just the other day, and he said that his big goal in life is to buy a house that has a ton of land, so that he can freely shoot his BB gun and drive around his land in a pickup truck. He said, and I quote, “I basically just want to be a redneck.” So I don’t foresee any private jets in my future. :)

  22. NoB I know some people who have a house on a ton of land, where they can freely hunt. A fair bit of them have planes…you never know

  23. NoB,

    Possibly. One thing to keep in mind. From what I understand you went from fancy private school to fancy college to fancy law school to big law. It was a clear progression. There are a subset of successful people who find out that they are much at “work” than they ever were at school. I think you underweight that possibility. I probably overweight it…

  24. And I have reached the point where my cat is giving my daughter’s kitten a present…

    Merry Christmas everyone.

  25. We had an early morning zoom call and then I am off to work. My daughter asked me the other day, “What to you get out of working on Christmas?” I told her, “I get to have a job. I do it because it’s expected.” Actually, because I have a union contract, I get time and a half and a paid day-in-lieu off. But, it’s still expected.

    Surprise hit gift: avocado purse and tortilla blanket. My 7-year old could not be more thrilled with the fuzzy blanket and he runs around the house screaming, “I’m a burrito!” The avocado purse is shockingly lifelike (thank you targeted facebook ads).

    Lots of food at work (probably an international phenomenon in hospitals on the holiday – except maybe America, this year). So far, I have had some kind of coconut-cheese-rice pastry that a Phillapina nurse brought in. There is an authentically German ham coming this afternoon. I brought zucchini bread because the zucchinis are threatening to take over the yard.

  26. I just returned from gift delivery to the grandkids. All were hits, some my choice some from Moms suggestion list. Went into immediate play.. Just little stuff. it is in the fifties today, and we gathered for 90 minutes maintaining distance in a spacious Florida room with windows open on three sides fully masked (I wore the N95) .

    Tomorrow DD from next door is coming for duck dinner and a movie. There was an isolation period and testing yesterday since niece roommate had to leave for family home (her Mom is 96 yr old FILs caregiver) and wisdom teeth extraction over the break.

    Not that the precautions are anyones business but ours, but it us just easier to reassure those who might wonder.

  27. Lots of food at work (probably an international phenomenon in hospitals on the holiday – except maybe America, this year).

    There’s been a lot of food at the nursing homes this week so I’m sure its similar in the hospitals.

  28. Our house arrest at in-laws is going well. I was up at 4:45 am with a 10 month old who drank a bottle then fell back asleep while I watched YouTube. There wasn’t anywhere to put him back without waking his parents, so we just kept at it.

    I’ve played a lot of Connect Four and BIL and FIL and I have sampled a variety of bourbons.

    I ran four miles with the dog; he gets a lot of walks, although now there’s a violent storm building across the Bay.

    So that’s it, we’re just hanging out. It really is good to see everyone in person.

    Merry Christmas, everyone.

  29. “I know some people who have a house on a ton of land, where they can freely hunt. A fair bit of them have planes…you never know “

    Some even have their own airstrips.

  30. “Actually, because I have a union contract, I get time and a half and a paid day-in-lieu off. “

    Back in my SV days, we had no problems getting volunteers to work on holidays. They got paid double time for the hours they worked, in addition to being paid for the holidays, so, as they liked to call it, triple time.

    “So far, I have had some kind of coconut-cheese-rice pastry that a Phillapina nurse brought in. “

    Do you have a lot of Filipino/Filipina nurses or other HCW? That seems to be a cultural thing here.

  31. How do you cream butter and sugar? I.e., what tools and techniques have you found to give you good results?

    I think I’m going to try LfB’s chocolate shortbread recipe.

  32. Finn – Use warm (as in room temperature) butter. Don’t try softening in microwave, just set it out on the counter. If I need it to warm faster, cut in to tablespoons and put in a bowl. I always put an inverted bowl on top because we have cats. Depending on the amount, either a hand or stand mixer on medium to medium high setting. Smaller amount (one stick or less), just the hand mixer or all you seem to do is keep scraping down the sides. If I don’t need very much butter/sugar, but will eventually want the stand mixer, I use the hand mixer in the stand mixer bowl.

    My mom always said to put the butter and sugar in a bowl and let it come to room temperature together. Don’t know if there is a reason or if she just liked it that way.

  33. Ada,

    What’s it like having Christmas on the Northern Hemisphere equivalent of June 25th? The long days, the warm weather, Christmas being sort of like Memorial Day in being the kickoff to summer?

    In the US summer unofficially runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Does NZ summer run (unofficially) from Christmas to Easter?

  34. Ran the numbers. Ada’s Christmas occurs June 25th and Easter occurs on (or about) October 1st.

  35. “What’s it like having Christmas on the Northern Hemisphere equivalent of June 25th?”

    Locally, June 25th is Leon Day (Noel spelled backwards), and radio stations play Xmas songs all day.

  36. Xmas quiz:

    Favorite Xmas movie?
    First movie that comes to mind when asked for your favorite Xmas movie?
    Favorite Xmas song?

  37. Merry Christmas all!

    Earlier, I was feeling a little depressed about not seeing my parents this holiday. Around sunset, DH & I went for a walk and happened upon a church having a Christmas candlelight service in the park next to our house so we decided to hang around. They had a singer with the most beautiful voice leading the carols & a crowd of around 50 people of all ages & races. As it was 15 degrees out, the service was only 30 minutes and was 90% singing with just a few readings. At the end, they did the traditional Silent Night with candles and other lights, with the skyline behind lit up in red and green. It was absolutely lovely and wonderful, and it changed my whole outlook. And I called my mom to tell her about it because she would have loved it.

    Then we had a delicious ham dinner and played a few board games. Now settling in with a cocktail. And we still have Christmas Day and a full week off work after!

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my Totebag friends!

  38. @Rhett – My friend from Brazil told me that New Years was always a beach day growing up, and it kind of blew my mind.

  39. We traditionally walk to the beach between the mid day Christmas feast and dessert. We don’t go in the water. Today we walked on the beach and there was one child doing cartwheels in 6 inches of water.

  40. Merry Christmas everyone!

    Ivy, that service sound lovely, and all the more so for the serendipity of how you found it.

    In Florida, the party line was that on Christmas on the beach was for tourists. But New Year’s Eve the beaches were packed with people having picnic suppers, setting off fireworks, and watching displays of nearby towns.

    Finn, the Christmas song I’d like to hear right now is “Mary, did you know”. Unfortunately, our echo these days only plays “radio” so that asking for a song gets some random other tune, and maybe the one you wanted will play in an hour.

  41. Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season to All.

    I have memories of one set of cousins not eating Christmas sweets till Christmas Day (my aunts edict).
    In our house though, my Mom worked and end of the year was busy for her with the closing of the books. She ordered sweets and we pecked at them before the day. The sweets were meant to distribute to family and friends.
    Some years my family gathered at a rented beach house for a few days. The weather was perfect for swimming during the day but cool at night. It’s like being in the Caribbean for the holidays.

  42. NoB, congrats to your son on the driving license. Such a cool present for you all! One thing I love about having moved to a place with good, safe, reliable public transit from a place where a car was necessary to do literally anything is the shift in relationship with my son. Obviously, you aren’t worrying about responsibility if he’s the guy opening up the supermarket, but I bet there will still be a shift as his schedule is entirely in his own hands—freedom and then dialing back as he realizes he wants to coordinate with you, even when transport doesn’t require it.

    Louise, 60 hours of driving practice? I’m stunned. I think mine bitd was 10 or (maybe) 20. My (then future-) BiL took me out, then I did a few lessons in the car with AAA, a couple of classroom sessions and then written and practical tests. Looking at Ohio and Florida websites, it seems that DS would be able to get a license on a short visit. Learner’s permits require passing a test that in Florida can be taken online (not sure about Ohio). Here, the practice driving requirement is at least 80 hrs, and the test is hard. It’s expensive and we don’t plan to get a car. We want DS to have a license for the occasional time it’s helpful, like getting a rental to bring home a new piece of furniture. Also, he might want one later in life.

    Being a family of 2 makes for flexibility and compromises that don’t happen with more people. At the moment, I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s noon on Christmas Day, and the “boy” is still asleep. He did not hang out his stocking as instructed several times last night. I don’t want to nag about that, but don’t see how Santa can come without it. We both feel cruddy, with colds. When he does get up, I’ll have him hang it before he gets in the shower, then hope the little surprise when he’s done gives us a nice Christmas interlude. If there were multiple kids, or even two parents, a lagger would likely be pulled along by the rest, as long as that wasn’t too inhumane.

  43. Merry Christmas!

    We saw Santa arrive by boat last year when we were on the beach. This year, so typical of 2020 – bad storm overnight and now lots of power outages and flooding. A large tree is down in our backyard, but we still have power.

    We usually go to my aunt’s house today so we might try to meet in her driveway if the rain stops. It is a rain storm that has warm weather (for December) with the rain, it is supposed to get very cold as soon as the rain stops.

    I really miss travel and vacations. I can already tell by looking at the calendar for December 2021 that it will be a short holiday break. I know there will be years of long winter breaks during college so I hope we will finally have a chance to take trips to Hawaii and Europe with DD.

  44. Merry Christmas!

    The kids let me sleep until 6:30 and had a cup of coffee waiting for me. A Christmas miracle. I love the joy and excitement of the morning. They are now working on getting the Nintendo Switch hooked up while I enjoy a beautiful pink sunrise. New sleds will be used later this afternoon and we’ll do a small and brief gift exchange with DH’s family this afternoon….in the open garage (current temp -4).

    Last night we watched mass livestreamed and had candles ready for silent night. It brought tears to my eyes. It always does, but this year the significance was greater.

    Christmas movie – Christmas Vacation
    Christmas song – Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree
    Christmas Album – Josh Groban, Noel

  45. Merry Christmas! With college students, we are up and they are still sleeping. Now, its the cats who demand breakfast that serve as the alarm. It’s chilly here upper 30s this morning, but bright and sunny. Our celebratory meal will be about 2 pm and then a nice walk afterward.

    Christmas Song /Album – Traditional Christmas Carols – my mom had a couple of albums that ran through them in different orders. That is what reminds me of childhood Christmas.
    Christmas Movie – A tie with A Nightmare Before Christmas and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

  46. Christmas morning we usually make a nod to the majority culture with gingerbread men and oranges for breakfast. DH is still asleep. I ate one orange section and the head with my morning caffe latte and got a special holiday visit from the third cat, whom I rarely mention, since she is a regular I-deign-to-let-you-serve-me feline and neither an ersatz puppy like her brother nor a noisy high entertainment source like the new kitten. Took the best photo evah of her as she joined me at the kitchen table.

    So Merry Christmas to you all from Katniss.

  47. Meme – Katniss is adorable.

    Louise – your Aunt sounds absolutely Tudor. (We saw a documentary on Tudor Christmas recently. No sweets, dairy or meat the whole month of December, until the 25th, the first day of Christmas.)

    Watched Home Alone yesterday with the kids. Today, we’re watching Elf.
    I watched the Muppets Christmas Carol – my favorite version – last week.

    Merry Christmas to all who celebrate.

  48. About time to crash here. The day turned out pretty well, and very relaxed. DS hung up the stocking with no issue, because he was onto me—came out of the shower cheerful and expectant. GF didn’t come over, but he appreciates that I got her a little cactus. We played a hand of Uno (from his stocking, are salmon, Brussels sprouts, and mashed potatoes, watched some basketball.
    Meme, that’s very similar to my breakfast :) As I think I mentioned earlier this week, I like it that “Christmas” traditions here aren’t necessarily limited to Christians at all as they predate Christianity here.

    LT, that sounds like the perfect Christmas with little ones. Soak it up!

  49. My favorite Christmas album is the Brian Setzer Orchestra live album. It is on my bucket list to attend the tour one day. I had tickets last year, but then the tour was cancelled. Hopefully in 2021.

  50. DW’s friend group did the favorite Xmas movie quiz. Our family came up right away with Elf, It’s a Wonderful Life, and A Charlie Brown Xmas, although we wondered whether the last one qualified as a movie, as it was originally, and for many years, a TV special.

    A couple movies that were mentioned multiple times were Sound of Music and Star Wars, which were followed by questions of whether they were Xmas movies. One person said they watch Sound of Music every Xmas, which made it a Xmas movie, at least for their family, which I found to be a logical argument, kinda like for the This is Us Family, Police Academy 3 is a T-day movie.

  51. My favorite Xmas song is Sleigh Ride, by Leroy Anderson. Brings back good memories of playing it every year in HS band, and getting to do the ending whinny. Close behind are A Christmas Festival, also by Anderson, and Hallelujah Chorus (not by Anderson). (It may not surprise anyone that I own a CD of recordings of Anderson compositions.)

    Favorite Xmas album is the soundtrack from A Charlie Brown Xmas.

  52. The Sound of Music is one of my favorite movies. I do not think of it as a Christmas movie even though it is typically aired on TV around Christmas. I think it was originally released in the Spring of 1965.

    Thanks to DD, we started to listen to “modern” holiday music on Spotify. I found a similar channel that I listen to on Sirius. I am surprised because I am not a fan of Mariah Carey, but I really like her Christmas music including the over played, All I want For Christmas. I really like the soundtrack from Charlie Brown Christmas too.

    We had a very quiet day on Christmas and I would have typically been in the mall with DD by now. We like to shop early on the day after Christmas, but we are going to skip this year for a couple of reasons. We don’t need anything and it we don’t won’t to deal with any crowds in the mall. I have a bunch of returns, but I will wait until the first week in Jan when I am sure it will empty as the kids return to school etc.

    I’ve already watched several episodes of Bridgerton and I am really enjoying this series.

  53. Finn- I like the Christmas movie logic. It was very cold here for Christmas (in the 50s!) so we watched the Lord of the Rings. I commented that it was hardly a Christmas movie and DS2 came out very quickly with- “but it has Elves!”

  54. I spent approximately 10 hours cooking in the past 2 days (4 kinds of soup; 2 kinds of bread; pierogis; 2 new kinds of cookies; big breakfast/brunch; beef tenderloin and sides; chocolate lava cakes), and now the fridges are all FULL of food, so I am looking forward to relaxing today and not making anything new! (Except banana bread, but that’s because we have bananas that need to be used up)

    How can you have one favorite Christmas album? ;) I’d probably have to pick Chanticleer Our Heart’s Joy, but then I’d be missing all the albums by the Boston Camerata, King’s, Cambridge Singers, The Sixteen, etc. Plus the Charlie Brown Christmas album, which is also one of my favorites – that and Dave Brubeck are the closest I get to modern Christmas music (pop is Right Out).
    For Christmas movies I’d probably have to say Charlie Brown or a Muppet Christmas Carol, but I also really like Elf and Arthur Christmas.

  55. We had a nice day. We had a close friend over who lost both parents earlier this month, hopefully we made it a little easier for her.

    We are going to Target this morning to see if we can find any light up animals to add to the menagerie on our lawn for next year- they are half off in the after Christmas sale. And I need to drop off the boots we got DD at the UPS store because our friend got her the same pair. So DD is thrilled because she gets to pick out another pair.

  56. A hit gift was the Echo Show, I gave my parents. They are thrilled with it and are like kids with a new toy. They saw the Dot at their friends place and were taken by it My Dad loves the voice commands as he finds it difficult to type on a phone or iPad, to look up things or play music.

  57. The gifts this year were especially good. My mom, DH, and sisters are usually great gift givers, but my 3 adult DS’s have some trouble figuring out what to get me no DH. Since we lived together for 6 months for the pandemic this year, they knew our daily life really well and really nailed it. Including from DIL.

  58. We went to two Targets and they both already cleared out their Christmas stuff. Very annoying.

  59. Christmas went well here. I, too, may venture to eg Home Depot, target to find a lighted snowman to put on our deck next year. The one we had crapped out last year.

    I have to get some mortar anchors and bolts to repair our fireplace screen so it’ll stay in place.

    Two gifts for DW showed up today. Still hung out on one gift card for DS1 and the envelopes my mom mailed from the Bay Area on the 13th.

    DS3 and I nailed our simple dinner (grilled steaks with his compound butter creation for him and me, fish for DW), sautéed spinach, baked spuds.

    No cooking today I don’t think. Probably chipotle or Chinese. I really need to cut back. Cold gray blustery day but I’ll go to the gym.

  60. DD,
    Hobby Lobby was basically sold out of Christmas stuff a week ago. In most years you can go right after Christmas and scoop up cookie tins and gift bags that are almost free but not this year.

  61. Good, because it’s a lovely, sunny day with highs in the upper 50s, and the last thing I want to do is troll the department stores. In true Colorado fashion everyone is out running or doing pushups on park benches or other fitnessy things. I walked three miles.

  62. We had a nice Christmas..started out with my brothers and I sending pics of Christmas breakfast to each other. DH and I made the kids get up early to open their presents….we were up and who can sleep in on Christmas morning? Revenge is sweet.

    One of DD2s friends joined us for Christmas dinner. Her folks had been sick with Covid and so she wasn’t going home. Fortunately, at 11 pm Christmas Eve,their test results came back clear. She spent the afternoon and evening with us, then headed to SoCal to see her family.

    All was good until I tripped on a stair and fell. Ended up with a broken hand. New Years Resolution is to work on balance.

  63. Denver, you checked online already?

    What is shopping like where each of you are right now? (asking here because it isn’t political, just people’s everyday experiences).

    Here it is really weird. You can order stuff online to be delivered as usual, and stores that usually have pick-up (tech stores, for example) still have it. Pick up isn’t necessarily faster than delivery.

    Flower shops were doing brisk business on the 23rd and 24th; at each of the shops I saw, a table was set up blocking the door and sales associates were scurrying like mad to fill orders for customers who stepped up one by one, keeping our distance. Other stores that also aren’t usually online were doing similar, albeit more slowly. This shop for board games and puzzles has a sign in its window saying to order from their website & pay online. The site says “we don’t know if picking up games that were paid for by paypal or bank transfer will be permitted–there are no rules yet”. I saw a customer go up to the apparently closed store, call on their phone, and receive a package from a hand extended through a barely-cracked-open door. That seems to be the consensus solution, although for all I know they might’ve gotten shut down.

    I still can’t figure out how this store, with multiple floors of books, records, stationary, and similar (take a look–it’s pure TB consumer bliss), is permitted to stay open when even major department stores are following the above policy.

    But that was the state of affairs a couple days ago. Stores closed for Christmas at 1 or 2 on the 24th. Stores are always closed Dec 25 & 26 for Christmas, and on Sundays. The Christmas rush is over, and the lockdown that began Dec 16 is supposed to last through Jan 11. I don’t know what the status will be on Monday, other than that grocery stores will be open. I have phone appointments with customer service for a store where the website isn’t working for me and with an insurance agent that morning, and the “INS” is still processing applications, so we aren’t really bothered. My son will have school online Jan 6-8, which he isn’t happy about, but that’s a week away.

    One thing that would bother me is if the weather remains cold enough that the lakes freeze. I remember in the 90s, a friend took me out to one of the lakes where skate rental and Glühwein/hot chocolate huts had been set up. It felt like a scene out of Victorian times, or maybe my mother’s mid-20th century childhood, skating on the river through her Wisconsin town. My son only knows skating in rinks; I’d love to be able to go out like this with him, but it seems unlikely they’d be permitted to open.

  64. Cass, what rotten luck! I hope you are able to heal fast.

    Was your trip to Hawaii, where you had such horrible plane issues, in 2020 also?

  65. “DH and I made the kids get up early to open their presents….we were up and who can sleep in on Christmas morning? Revenge is sweet.”

    Laughed out loud at that, Cassandra! So sorry, though, to hear about your hand. I hope you have a quick and full recovery.

  66. The kids and I were just talking about past Christmas disasters…

    2020. My broken hand
    2019 airplane hell on the way to Hawaii
    2018. Refrigerator dies on Christmas Eve night
    2017 idiot neighbor runs over DS’s dog
    2016. Nothing memorable
    2015. Trip to Arizona. Killer bees attack DD2 and I get Valley fever
    2014. I break a leg in a hotel room on the way home. Since I’m in denial, we still do the college tour before heading to the airport.
    2013. No one can remember

    I don’t think we’re doing Christmas right

  67. Cass – I hope you were able to get attention for your broken hand and it heals soon. Have you gotten checked for osteoporosis or similar ?

    In other news, I will keep DS and DD online for two weeks till after MLK day. That way we won’t have to worry about holiday Covid that hits the school.

  68. Cass, I hope your had heals well, quickly.

    I guess Louise picked up the same thing I did– multiple broken bones associated with Xmas.

  69. Cass, sounds like you got your 2016 Xmas treatment early. On the upside, all those distinct events let you remember each Christmas individually.

  70. Those in the greater Boston area, what’s the covid situation there?

    I’m wondering if it makes sense for DS to go back to/near campus even if classes are online. DW and I talked to DD’s BFF, who spent last semester on campus, and she said even with all the restrictions she made new friends and was glad she went.

    Situation near DD’s campus seems pretty dire; I’m seeing a lot of stuff about hospitals there being overwhelmed. Her situation for next semester isn’t looking very hopeful. Two of her close friends who were here for fall semester, and who she hung out with from time to time, are both planning to go on campus. BFF may go on campus again, and if DS also goes, she’ll be missing much of the emotional support she had for fall.

  71. Finn,

    My DD2 has been living on campus and made friends Your DD is young and likely to have a good outcome.

    Also, SoCal has lots of hospitals. Absolute number of beds is also an important metric that isnt reported

  72. Finn – I think living on a campus with precautions in place is fine. It’s off campus housing especially residents in fraternity/sorority houses that had a lot of spread. Certain college living situations are way more riskier than others.

  73. Finn, what is the covid testing regime like at your DDs school?

    At my DDs school, the kids gets tested weekly

  74. “I think living on a campus with precautions in place is fine. It’s off campus housing especially residents in fraternity/sorority houses that had a lot of spread.”

    Dorms are not currently an option for DD. If she goes to/near campus, it’ll be at an off-campus apartment.

  75. “Also, SoCal has lots of hospitals. Absolute number of beds is also an important metric that isnt reported”

    I’m not too concerned about absolute number of beds.

    A bigger concern is availability of staffed beds, and ICU beds in particular.

  76. “what is the covid testing regime like at your DDs school?”

    DD tells me that since she’d be living off campus, testing is not mandated, but the school offers testing to its students with no stated frequency limits.

  77. Finn, Boston area day to day life is about the same as it has been for quite a while. There have been some recent rollbacks and increased capacity restrictions, but any new limitations in my activities have more to do with the cold weather and fewer outdoor options. But most stores are open, there is takeout and delivery for food. . There are plenty of large stores with good ventilation in which to shop if necessary. Delivery service for me has been very good. All of the reunions are going to be virtual, and commencement is up in the air. Finn Jr, as you know, is prioritized for on campus housing, but instruction is remote. I think if he wants to be here with his class you need not worry.

  78. I live in the greater Boston area. The Covid numbers have been increasing since before Thanksgiving and the Gov has enacted additional restrictions on gatherings and businesses which were effective starting today.
    However, my daughter was at in person school (k-12) since August and it was so great for her to have the in person learning experience and the social aspects of being back to school in person. Her school did a very good job with masking, distancing, etc and while there were cases detected on campus, there was no spread at school.
    My nephew is living off campus at a local university here in a rental house with 4 roommates. They are cautious/responsible, but definitely have friends and girl friends over and socialize far more than I would be/am comfortable with. They went through August until now without anyone getting covid in their house, their university offers free testing on demand and at least one roommate is testing 2x a week because he has to go on campus for in person classes (labs), so they have what they consider “a canary in the coal mine” —early warning system. My nephew tested before he came home for Christmas and masks/distances, etc. when he is home. I think he is more engaged with his school work when living and studying with his peers. The “all remote from his childhood home” scenario of last spring was tough.
    All this to say, college students can be responsible—just depends on the kid. Your son sounds like a responsible, focused student and likely would manage fine back in Boston next semester.

  79. WRT the spring semester – here there seems to be a seasonality aspect. As soon as the temperature dipped and we started being indoors more the infection rate increased from 5% to 11.2% today. Public behavior like mask wearing etc has been consistent. However interactions like meeting up with friends, limited capacity dining etc. that had been outdoors moved indoors. I am waiting to see what happens in the spring. We get warmer weather here by March.

  80. Finn, I hear you about your DD being on her own if your DS goes back to school. You’ve apparently already concluded that her situation near campus would be unsafe. I love that your kids are close to each other and that you are paying attention to her this way. If her best friends and brother leave, is there another way she could get f2f interaction, like taking one class locally, or a paid or volunteer job? She could continue the relationships with them remotely (which is what happens in young adulthood anyway), and enjoy the lighter local connections. Otherwise you are asking her brother to give up quite a bit for her.

  81. Finn, I can’t comment on Boston specfically, but I can share some experiences with college students in the MA/CT/NY area.

    Some schools allow +1 visitor in a room/suite, some allow 0 visitors in a room/suite. If your student is in a suite of 4, and all invite a friend, there are now 8 in a suite, and you would likely agree with me that college kids can make a party with 8 people. My sons school allows 0 and it’s strictly enforced with key card access, RA’s and even students reporting each other. A friends DD was sent home from her school for having 9 in a 4 person suite. (The DD claims it was the first time it happened but friend does not believe it since the school offers a ‘review board’ for the first offense.)

    Another school I am familiar with has an agreement with a local hotel (a nice one, btw!) where students go to quarantine if they have been a close contact of a positive case. DD’s chem tutor ended up quarantined there and their quarantine rules did not allow for them to leave the room at all, even to go outside in the courtyard for fresh air. Their quarantine was isolation.

    I’m sure your son will know the rules of his school and will take all precautions, but it’s hard to not be a close contact if you live with someone or are a teammate.

  82. BTW – appreciate all the advice offered when I was looking for a chemistry tutor for DD. I went against the advice to simply go with a smart student and it has worked out this time. A friend is a coach at a local U, knows my DD’s personality, and was able to suggest one of his chem major athletes who who he thought would be a good personality fit. He was right, they clicked, and DD has said that the tutor is definitely helping. Tutor’s AP chem teacher had a ‘tips and tricks’ style where DD’s teacher focuses on theory. DD has shown us charts/grids/decision trees that tutor has shared from her AP class notes. DD feels far more confident, and her grades reflect it.

    I am a bit sad that they can’t meet in person. DD has always liked ‘big kids’ and would like to go away to college yesterday if she could. I think DD would love meeting the tutor in person on campus and would think she was all that and a bag of chips walking around campus like she belonged there. Ah well.

  83. Finn — My $0.02 is that you should let Finn Jr. go back to school if he wants to. Protocols at his school are strict and are being adhered to. If he ventures out into the broader Boston/Cambridge world off campus, he faces some risk (positivity rates in MA have been hovering around 6% for a while now), However, masking and distancing are pretty much universal in public places around here, so unless he was going to private social events off campus, I think his risk would actually be quite low. Also, he’s young and AFAIK healthy, so even if he did get Covid, he would likely recover fully. Boston hospitals are currently reporting that they have capacity to handle more Covid cases, should they arrive.

    My feeling is, he got into an great school, the big selling point of which is the opportunity to interact with an amazing group of peers and professors. He has missed almost a year of this interaction. Let him have the last few months, if that is what he wants.

  84. “In other news, I will keep DS and DD online for two weeks till after MLK day. That way we won’t have to worry about holiday Covid that hits the school.”

    Louise — My kids’ district, which I think has done a really good job managing so far (the kids were hybrid from September through the start of Christmas break — no weeks spent full-remote) decided to do just that — have the first two weeks of January be full-remote so that the anticipated holiday Covid spike doesn’t get into the school. This decision has been very controversial — lots of fighting about it on the local Facebook page. By contrast, DH’s district is still planning to go back on a hybrid model right after the New Year.

  85. Cass, DH and I were just discussing our bad hospital experiences on holiday weekends. When he wrecked his motorcycle racing one Easter weekend, the woman who was wrapping his broken thumb was banging the crap out of him and kept apologizing that she usually just stocks the towels, but they had her wrapping injuries that day because they were shorthanded due to the holiday. I hope you got good care! Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    I am also avoiding the stores for now. I have a few returns, some of which were expected. I got DH and DS AirPod pros because Costco had them $50 off. As expected, DS considered this an unnecessary expenditure and pointed out that DD has an old pair since she bought herself the pros earlier this year. Why would I get him new ones when there is a years-old pair of hand me downs available? I do not worry about his financial decision making. (And to be clear, he’s no martyr and will happily burn money on video games and eating out and other things he sees value in. He just has little need for newer/upgraded versions of stuff if the current thing is still functioning. My grandmother lives on through him.)

  86. (positivity rates in MA have been hovering around 6% for a while now),

    For us, that’s low ;-). It’s somewhat comical because by the time our rate dips, the school board meets and decides to go to in person school, it’s weeks and the rate goes back up. Our rates seem to be steadying and the vaccine rollout should start to have an impact.

  87. Swin, that’s great it’s worked so well for her.

    Finn, I agree with the other – let your son go back to school if he wants.

  88. Finn, you may have this info already, but from your question about Covid rates in Boston it didn’t seem you did. The college Covid dashboards give a lot of detailed and timely information. Here’s one for a random school in Boston:

    I feel your pain. My mantra these days is let me mother out of my best hopes for my kids, and not out of my worst fears.

  89. I’m posting this here to keep business out of the wake/shiva/calling hours at the other page.
    How should we decide what to do in memory of Kim’s son?

  90. SM.

    1. When the formal notice goes up, those who live near her IRL will let me know the family’s preference re flowers, donations etc. There are lots of extended family nearby.
    2. Something in accordance with that will be done, but she wants to maintain her family’s privacy, so no blog discussion will take place and I will delete any attempt.
    3. When my daughter died 41 years ago, trees were planted in Israel, masses said, donations made in her memory by families in grad student housing whom I barely knew. Anything an individual chooses to do will be appreciated.

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