Christmas represents a lot of different things to different people. For many it is a time of gathering, of renewing connections with family and friends. For some it is a chaotic blur of shopping and hosting that leaves exhaustion in its wake. To others it signifies a renewing of hope and faith in the goodness of the human race and in the future of mankind.
For me I think Christmas is a little of all of the above…and perhaps more.
Jas and his brother Matt: crackers with cracker crowns.
Jas and I are rarely pictured together so this photo is a treat.
Wes was all about cheesy smiles as he played with new toys aplenty.
These are the men of my family-or at least the portion of them that was present and willing to sit still for a moment.
Like most people, Jason and I are super busy at Christmastime. I am a very organized person so I start my Christmas shopping well in advance but even with my abnormally early preparations there still always seems to be a general shortage of time to accomplish all that needs to be done before the big day. We love that we live near both of our families and so are able to spend time with each of them on Christmas but this double family whammy sometimes isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Many a Christmas has passed where Jason and I have had very little time to ourselves and haven’t even had a chance to open our Christmas presents to each other until midnight or later. I love our families but I love Jason more. (Sorry fams, you can’t seriously think you can compete with that boy.) That’s why I was so grateful when our family get-togethers this year weren’t all scheduled for Christmas. Jason’s family gathered on Christmas Eve while my family members spent a few hours with each other on Christmas afternoon. This left me and Jason some sublime time for sleeping in and making breakfast together on Christmas morning. Fantastico! Since our holiday evening was also free, shockingly, we gladly used it to make a yummy dinner of chicken marsala and gingerbread cookie sandwiches. Lovely, lovely, lovely. I think I’m going to have to insist on less packed Christmases in the future-I can’t go back now that I’ve had a taste of that restful sweetness-I’m hooked.
We gave my sister and her husband longboards for Christmas. John was so thrilled about his board that he had to go right out into the freezing night to give it a try.
Our nephew, Jadon, was very excited about his candy cane and homemade sweater. And I was excited when I realized that the two canes in this picture are chiral images of each other.
The chicken marsala I made for our Christmas dinner was scrumptious! Thanks Robyn for the great recipe.
Jason bought me a new snowboard for Christmas. I was eager to give it a go in our living room.
So what does Christmas mean to me, besides busyness and the crammed family schedule that we somehow avoided this year? It means fun and crazy Black Friday shopping with friends and family. It means hiding presents for Jason in the “secret closet” until the closet doors will no longer close and being supremely excited about my ingenious gift ideas for that superb man. It means spoiling the members of our families that we happen to draw the names of pretty rottenly. It means listening to Christmas music and being unable to keep from tearing up a bit. It means watching nieces and nephews open new toys with the magic of Christmas all over their faces. It means feeling the conviction that mankind is capable of more. It means having a great excuse to spend time with family and friends. It means partying. It means being generous. It means filling a dreary month with some light.
Christmas is spectacular, and tiring, and thrilling, and sometimes exasperating…but I wouldn’t miss it for the world!
We decided to put a slight twist on our Christmas party this year. In addition to the usual catered food, fierce ping pong battles, and dubious white elephant gifts we invited everyone to get into the spirit by wearing their tackiest Christmas sweaters. We thought this might put a fun and hideous spin on our annual get-together…it was hideous alright!
Andrew and Simone made their own cheesy Christmas sweatshirts. Simone's was pretty cute but Drew's not so much. Just kidding.
Jason decided that his tacky Christmas clothes would feel out of place unless they were accompanied by an ugly mustache so he resolved to grow some revolting facial hair to match his repulsive attire and he convinced most of the men coming to our party to do the same. The result? Yuck! Nasty facial hair was everywhere. It was like an episode of The Twilight Zone; the world seemed overrun by creepy lumberjacks and dirty old men.
At least the mustached men groped each other and left the women alone. Mustaches are icky!
Cam and Fran decorated themselves like Christmas trees.
Despite the visual insults far and wide, the partiers seemed to enjoy themselves. The conversations were loud, the white elephants adequately fought over, and the food mass consumed. But will ugly mustaches and unsightly sweaters become the standard at our Christmas party? You decide. Party attendees, did you like having your men decked in tackiness and hair or did you miss the simpler days when obvious social outcasts were the only ones donning mustaches? Inquiring minds want to know.
Around the world is always a favorite at our Christmas party. I actually won one of the games this year. Yeah! First time ever!
My sweater made me feel like an old lady with absolutely no taste. Maybe I should have worn some elastic-waist polyester pants to go with it.
Whether offensive hair and flashy sweaters become a Sabin party tradition or not, merry Christmas to you and your monumental mustache too!
I needed to travel to New York City again for the annual Society of Cosmetic Chemists scientific seminar. Jason was down with that as long as he could tag along. We stayed over the weekend after my seminar was done to make the arduous airplane ride worth the bother.
We snapped this of the Chrysler building just as it was getting dark. Perfecto!
The great thing about NYC is that no matter how many times you visit there are always more things to do and see than you could possibly have time for. This year, out of the nearly limitless options, we ended up going to a lot of shows and being all sorts of cultural. We saw the Lion King on Broadway, the New York Pops’ Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall, and the Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. They were all fantastic but I was most excited about getting a chance to see Carnegie Hall. Being inside a legendary venue like that felt like being a part of history and our seats were in one of the hall’s cool old school opera boxes so that was pretty sweet.
- The stage at Carnegie Hall: famous, festive, fabulous!
Another highlight of our trip was being part of the studio audience for a filming of The Colbert Report. I love Colbert, and if he isn’t the very definition of culture I don’t know what is, so I was thrilled that we were able to procure tickets and be in his crazy presence. What a nut! The one downside to attending the Colbert Report was that we had to wait outside in the frigid NYC winter for over an hour before they let us into the studio. By then both Jason and I felt cold down to our bones and we couldn’t get warm the rest of the night. But Colbert was worth it most definitely.
This girl and guy are going to see Colbert!
In addition to the multitude of entertaining shows we went to, we found a plethora of culture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Holy relics Batman! This museum is amazing. We spent all day there and only saw a small fraction of their exhibits. We made it through the Egyptian portion, the arms and armory wing, and some of the countless paintings. Everything we did see was spectacular from Henry VIII’s armor to the Temple of Dendur, which was transported in its 800 ton entirety from Egypt to the museum to save it from being submerged when the Aswan High Dam was created. Jason was captivated by the Book of the Dead displayed in the Egyptian section. Who knew that the Book of the Dead wasn’t a Hollywood fabrication? The many incredible paintings by Rembrandt, van Gogh, Picasso, and Monet-just to name a few-were probably what I liked best but I think we could have spent a full week at the MET and still not have seen everything. Wow! Wow! Wow! If you ever get a chance I would highly recommend checking that place out.
This archway was part of the outer court of the Temple of Dendur and apparently part of the packaged deal.
Jason loved the way I contemplated all of the paintings at the MET so he took this picture of me pondering Monet.
These decked out dudes and horses in the armory section of the MET were really cool.
There are only a couple letters separating couture from culture so I think it’s quite fitting that the pursuit of fashion accompanied our cultural escapades. One of my favorite things about NYC is the shopping. Manhattan is surprisingly deficient in certain types of shops. For instance, finding a grocery store is nearly impossible and when you finally do stumble upon one you inevitably discover that it is roughly the size of a 7 Eleven. But what Manhattan lacks, I mean really lacks, in way of fresh consumables it makes up for with other goods. The hotel we stayed at was just a block away from the famous and fabulous shopping on 5th Avenue. Oh glorious shops! I am not ashamed, though perhaps I should be, to admit that I spent rather a lot of money along that stretch of road, probably enough to feed a family in Ethiopia for a year. We went to FAO Schwarz (They still have the huge piano featured in the movie Big on display.), Tiffany’s, H&M, Anthropologie, Henri Bendel, and many more. For any of you ladies planning a trip to NYC, Henri Bendel is a must! If multiple floors filled solely with jewelry, purses, scarves, makeup, and hair accessories don’t make you drool then you don’t deserve the estrogen in your cells. If I lived in NYC all those divine shops would be the death of my financial stability I’m afraid. Good thing there is a limit to how many darling dresses one can stuff in a suitcase.
The doorman at FAO Schwarz looked awesome but he made me feel super short.
Jason was eager to visit the first Apple store on the planet. It's legendary...I guess.
No trip to NYC wouldn’t be complete without some good grub: a literal cultural intake. My two favorite places we ate at this time were Five Napkin Burger and The Modern. At Five Napkin Burger I ate the best hamburger that has ever touched my lips: a big patty of chuck roast, a thick slice of gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and a rosemary aioli sauce. Oh my goodness! The Modern is part of the Museum of Modern Art and features a fusion of American and French cuisine. The food there is served as a series of small courses. All the courses we had, from horseradish crusted Scottish salmon with Riesling froth to Beignets topped with maple ice cream and caramel sauce, were delicious and the serving staff was impeccable. I would highly recommend both these places to anyone that finds themselves in NYC.
One of the courses Jason ordered at The Modern was a poached egg in a jar with sea urchin froth. It sounded too weird to me but Jason was intrigued by its strangeness. He enjoyed it though he admitted that what I got tasted better.
We had a lovely time in Manhattan, and we were drenched in culture by the time we returned, but visiting NYC always makes me wonder how people can live so removed from nature. Perhaps it is easy to feel, when surrounded by manmade giants of steel and glass, that nature is obsolete but I could never believe or live like that. Man’s accomplishments and creations may be everywhere in NYC but the awe of nature is completely lost. No thank you; I need my green growing things. I’d take my snow capped mountains over the bustling streets of NYC any day…though I wouldn’t mind having a few of those 5th Avenue shops here in Utah.