Sunday, January 8, 2023

Christmas in Wisconsin, Again!

We have once again reached the end of our Christmas season, more or less, with Ukrainian Christmas. This entailed a trip up to Kim’s parents, a swirl of family members young and old, and a feast of epic proportions. This is what holidays are supposed to be like, after all.

It’s not a bad drive up there and there was interesting conversation along the way, much of which was spent dunking on the Stanford University IT Department, an organization that has apparently never ventured out of the miniscule ideological bubble in which it resides. You can look it up yourself if you want, but you won’t be any better off if you do.

We arrived and immediately settled in as people gathered. Dustin is visiting us from Texas so he came along, and Kegan brought Jessica with him as well so it was a good sized group. There is never a bad time for an UNO game in our family.

At one point my niece Viera asked me to teach her how to use my DSLR camera, which is a relic in this age of cell phones. We went over the basics of it and I sent her off to take pictures since that’s really the only way to learn. She got some nice shots. People smile differently for kids.

For long stretches the television was tuned to music videos – mostly from the 80s (memories!) with a surprising number of Michael Jackson videos. We charted his progression from the precocious kid he was with the Jackson Five to the superstar he became in the 80s to whatever it was he evolved into after that. Sometimes a project just presents itself and you just go along to see how it turns out. I can’t say I was ever a huge fan of his, but it was interesting to see.

Dinner was Ukrainian food in abundance, though there was rather a rotating cast of characters at the table – there are far more people than seats at the table and many of those people are young children, so people slot in and eat as spaces become available. It makes the conversations more varied and nobody goes hungry, so it all counts as a win.

The younger family members get their gifts after dinner.

The rest of us do the Dice Game. All of the adults gather around the table with two gifts, one kind of nice and one kind of goofy. We arrange them in six piles and you roll a die – if you get a 4, you pick something from pile 4 and open it, to much oohing and ahing if it is one of the nice gifts and an equal amount of laughter if it is one of the goofy ones. The die goes around the table and eventually everyone has two gifts in front of them, and then the chaos begins. Two pairs of dice are distributed, a timer is set, and for the next several minutes the dice roll and get passed along, and anyone who rolls doubles can forcibly swap presents with anyone else. It’s a lot of fun. You should try it.

It was a long ride back home, but a happy one. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it.

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