A Wittlif Christmas

3 Jan

Since Zack and I were working on December 25, we had a makeshift Wittlif Christmas with my father. Instead of Zack leaping up and down on my bed at 7AM per last year*, I woke up a bit sick** so I headed downstairs early and had some hot tea and breakfast while I waited for my man to awake. Once he was up, we tried to gather my brother Edward into our festivities, but unfortunately he was swamped with work on the 24th so he dutifully did his animation while we tore through presents.

*Easily the highlight of my year in 2011.

**She’s being brave. Caitlin was really sick for two weeks straight, all through the holidays. She managed to come out for the Christmas party and New Years Eve and worked overtime all the way through. What a champ!

Luckily, we felt just as festive hanging out in the gingerbread house my expert father decorated, even though it was the day before the rest of folks celebrated Christmas*. I’m a huge fan of Christmas lights** — I love how they twinkle so delicately, in cute and fun patterns. My dad went all-out this year***, decorating both the main house and the garage.

*If anything, it felt like we got an extra day of Christmas. If we said it was Christmas, who was there to stop us? We got all the best parts.

**I’m coming around on Christmas lights. I don’t look away in disgust when I see them in the streets two days after New Years, but I do keep suggeting Caitlin take the tree decorations down. Don’t tell her, but I took the bell knocker thing off the door yesterday and put it under the tree. I didn’t intend on doing it. It kept falling off and I was like … wait a tic … it’s the 2nd. You’re time here is done.

***We drove around Caitlin’s dad’s neighborhood and checked out everyone’s lights. I voted her dad’s the 3rd or 4th best and Caitlin gave him the #2 slot. 

My dad also set the stage for Santa to pop by a day early, thankfully. The stockings on the far right are for Zack* and me (I’m the bunny rabbit, of course). Edward is Rudolph, all the way on the left, and then the one next to that is for Tinkerbell (our sheltie). My dad is in the middle, and then Leo’s stocking is the tiny one next to that (he’s our collie). As you can see, after we opened presents, we watched It’s a Wonderful Life, the heartwarming Frank Capra production with Jimmy Stewart and an angel named Clarence** (‘atta boy!)

*I’m really not used to stockings. Mine made it back to Austin and stayed on the wall with gummy bears and peanut butter M&M’s in it for a week because I kept forgetting it wasn’t just a decoration.

**I cried like a baby at the end. I always do. Starting when everyone starts coming over with money and then it’s just water works at the “to my brother- richest man in town” line especially. Oh, screw it. I’ll embed this scene. And a tad more. It’s the best.

Zack truly spoiled me with sweets all holiday week long. Here, you can see four* delectable and fancy chocolate truffles in varying flavors. The hands-down winner was the one with caramel in it, but all were absolutely indulgent. Somehow, I managed to keep myself to one a night (except for one night where I went crazy and had 2).

*I actually got her six. They put them in two packages, which made for another bonus gift on the 8th night of Chanukah.

Zack also got me this awesome vintage Beatles’ 45″. It’s got “Love Me Do” and “P.s. I Love You” on it, because Zack is the sweetest of sweethearts. Shamefully, we haven’t even spun it yet*! I kinda just like to look at it:)

*I’d get it for the picture alone. That fact that it plays two early Beatles singles is a bonus. The sticker on it says it won’t play as well as normal releases, which unfortunately often seems to be the case on picture discs, as cool as they are to look at.

Zack’s most oddball, unique and adorable gift to me was this metal sculpture of a penguin holding a sign that says “Love,” all adorned in holiday wear. Zack said he was just walking along South Congress, saw it, and knew we needed it. It took me a minute to understand what it was — I’m still not sure I fully understand* — but I have come to absolutely adore Pedro the Penguin (which I named him shortly after meeting him). He is our lovable apocalypse penguin — the “apocapenguin,” if you will. To me, he stands for the idea that no matter what hardships you might go through, love can always survive it if you’re open to it. He has become my favorite gift of the year, and sits quietly and lovingly in the corner of our bedroom, greeting me each morning when I wake up.

*This gift could have been a disaster. Even the logistics of wrapping it were scary, but I’m glad Pedro is so loved. At first Caitlin said he would be seasonal, but I don’t see why he can’t chill out in the corner all year long with his scarf. It’s always cold to penguins. I assume. I don’t know much about penguins.

After Zack beat me so profoundly at gifts on night 3 of Chanukah, I was feeling like I needed to step my game up for him, even though I’d purchased most of his gifts already. I wanted just one more thing to seal the deal. Zack had left his well-worn New Balance sneakers in my trunk the day we went to the mall with my brother and dad, and that’s when it dawned on me — I’d buy him a great pair of sneakers! Sadly, Zack had the same idea when we walked into the mall, saying, “I think I’m going to get myself a new pair of shoes while we’re here.” Noooooo! I was so devastated. I’d already tried to surprise him with a subscription to Grantland (that story is to come), and failed miserably. I just spoke up and said, “But I wanted to get you sneakers!” We decided I could buy the shoes for him, but he got to help me pick them. We headed into Champs, and kinda looked around on the walls. I wasn’t seeing any likely candidates at first, as Zack is not a big basketball shoe-wearing type. But then, Zack saw a section with Pumas, and he recommended we try there. I spotted these deep blue suckers straight away, and knew they’d be the winners. Zack tried them on until we found his right fit*, and then we wandered the store and looked at some of the hats, as well. Zack mentioned passing interest in some Bulls baseball caps, but then went wild for a soft UT winter hat with tassels. I made him leave the store so I could at least have some kind of surprise for him, and got the pair.

*A surprise would have been nice, but not even I knew these shoes would run a bit small and I’d need a 10 1/2 instead of an 11, so that worked out well.

Apart from the hat and shoes, I’d already ordered a hoodie for my man. He’d been very specific about wanting useful items this year, and even said that something like a hoodie with his favorite band logo on it could be perfect. I looked at a few different band sites, but settled on this Arcade Fire hoodie because the diamonds on the sleeves were SO cool. Here is is*, all handsomely modeling his bounty.

*My boss saw this pic on Twitter and RT’d it with “Hipster 101.” As he would say,”meh.”

Finally — a joke gift! Zack had been going on and on for weeks (maybe even months) about how much he loved 27 Dresses. He said it with such ernest that he had me believing* he really loved the movie. I finally stopped him while we were talking Thursday night and pressed him, “But do you really love that movie?!” He came clean and said no, he’d been pulling my chain the whole time and did I really not get that? I made a face at him. I thought that would be the end of it, but then my dad and I were at Blockbuster, trying to track down a copy of It’s a Wonderful Life for our traditional viewing, and I was drawn to the “3-for-1” deal, where you could get 3 movies for the price of 1. I sifted through the movies, picking out Coco Before Chanel for myself (and my love of Audrey Tatou). But then I saw it — 27 Dresses. I knew immediately what I was going to do. I snagged Crazy Stupid Love, which I’d been lingering on for a bit, and checked out. I then took all of the Blockbuster labels off of 27 Dresses and Crazy Stupid Love, and opened them up to remove the discs. I switched the discs, and then wrapped up the DVDs, ensuring Zack would open the one with the 27 Dresses box first. As he unwrapped it, he started laughing out loud. Then I urged him to open the DVD case itself, and his eyes got wide as he asked me, “How’d you do this?” I saved the Crazy Stupid Love** box for later in the morning, and felt quite satisfied with my trickery.

*Caitlin is one of the more gullible people I’ve ever known, so with really dumb stuff like this, I enjoy making her believe my nonsense.

**The joke’s on me. Our plan for tonight is to recover from Caitlin’s wildly successful Free Week showcase by watching the rest of 27 Dresses. That’s a two-star movie, if I’ve ever seen one. Sigh.

As has been Wittlif tradition, my dad, Zack and I ended our “Christmas” day with a trip to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Pico de Gallo in downtown SA. Its food is absolutely the best, particularly the freshly made tortillas* and chips — there’s just nothing like them in the world. Plus, the restaurant is always beautifully decorated, as Zack captured here on his phone. We stuffed ourselves with fantastic treats:  enchiladas for me and my dad, and a rack of goat** for Zack (kind of icky, but he enjoyed it so I’m happy for him. All in all, it was a totally successful faux-Christmas*** – just as good as the real thing.

*The tortillas are as good as I’ve ever had. Especially the flour. Making them in house makes them taste oh so fresh. Caitlin called the chips the “best tortilla chips ever,” but I didn’t think they were all that special.

**I was so curious about the goat. How often do you have the opportunity to eat a big plate of goat wrapped in tortilla? It was pretty good, but I’ve eaten my last goat for a while.

***Except for that poor goat. 

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