This Christmas has been a different sort of Christmas.
For one thing, Sam's gone.
He was with us in Louisiana for Christmas last year. (Thanks again, Jim and Liz.)
So, it is only fair that he spend it with his dad this year.
He's been having fun in LA and even got to spend time playing in a park with my brother yesterday.
I'm not sure when he was last pushed this high on a swing or if he's ever played such an exhilarating game of tether ball.
It is a gift that they had this time together.
(Thanks for making this bliss happen and for the pictures, John.)
While they were playing, Cam and I climbed Ring Mountain.
I left the house wearing a four layers including a sweatshirt and coat.
By the time we reached the top, we were in short sleeves wishing for shorts and sandals.
We sat on top of Turtle Rock, basking in the sun, talking about how amazing this place is and the promise of future adventures.
In Sam's absence, we've been trying to see how many different cuisines we can sample. Friday night we had Thai, two prawn dishes, one with pumpkin, the other with eggplant. Saturday, we had Indian food for lunch and Puerto Rican for dinner. We enjoyed it so much that we went back to the same place for lunch the next day.
We've also been catching up on movies.
In November, we enjoyed the retelling of Into the Wild and were impressed by American Gangster.
This visit, we sang along with Once (differently enjoyable the second time), braved Cormack McCarthy's No Country for Old Men (so suspenseful, so good), watched Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, A Mighty Heart and our Christmas Classic, Love Actually.
Today, we're planning to have sushi and go see Juno.
We picked up a few small gifts, for Sam to open when he returns tomorrow, but the trip to Chicago for New Year's is our family's big present this year. We are already blessed with so much and need so little.
Through my new job, I've enjoyed being part of a holiday ice skating party for and selecting presents to give to kids in foster care.
One of the volunteers I work with works full time for the Haight Ashbury Food Program where they believe it is not enough to feed people for a day but it is essential to help people feed themselves and others for a lifetime. In the spirit of Christmas I made a small donation to them and also ended up giving money to a woman who stopped by our house asking for help protecting our National Parks.
Cam gave recently to support This American Life on NPR. We've talked about doing more giving of this sort but know that there is more need than we are able to fill but I guess if everyone gave a little, we could do big things.
Thank you to our families who have sent presents and gifts of money which allow us to do things like go out to eat, see movies, lend a hand to those in need, travel and buy new socks.
However you are celebrating the holidays, I hope you are enjoying yourself.
Much Love, Mary