Our tree “Hugo” is happy (alive) and ready to celebrate another Christmas. Here it is last year. I bought it from Berkeley Bowl and carried it home on the bus!
We have been reading a lot more since school is out for the holiday and our activities are on hold. It has been nice to visit the library with more frequency and we have read so many great books lately. Usually I will find many new picture books and a few non-fiction and Emma will pick up a stack of the short character stories like Strawberry Shortcake and Peppa Pig and we will read through them all. Here are some of the holiday/winter titles that we have been enjoying at home and from the library.
At home we own many books by Jan Brett as we love her illustrations. “Gingerbread Baby” and “The Mitten” are favorites. I also picked up this tiny copy of the “12 Days of Christmas.” The way she uses borders around the main pictures in all of her books is so brilliant.
I recently ordered a copy of a book from the Noisy Village series that we did not yet have. I know there is a “Christmas in Noisy Village” but I had read that you could get the same story by getting the longer chapter book. We have not read the whole thing yet but skipped to the chapters in the middle where they celebrate Christmas and it is wonderful!
Emma is in love with the book about “The Dolls’ Christmas” by Tasha Tudor. I picked it up at the library knowing she would fancy it and I had no idea that it was a true-ish story! Such a sweet little read.
We were sad to be missing “The Nutcracker” this year (although the holiday concert was a fantastic event) but still read the story often. We own a copy but have to look at other versions whenever we find them because the illustrations are always so good.
Of course we also have “The Snowy Day” and LOVE the new animated version so much. Ezra Jack Keats’ story and style of illustration is so beautiful and the new animated one is up to par.
Thinking about reading the chapters in “Mary Poppins ” where they go downtown to the big department store to buy Christmas presents. We love the part when Maia the star comes in to get things for all of her siblings. Also the part about the gingerbread wrapped in paper with stars gets me every time. It is so memorable.
For this year end holiday we rented a car for a week. Our plan was to drive down to Southern California to visit folks there. The first stop was taking Jason to his home in Isla Vista. On the way we stopped at Kinokuniya and the Clover Cake Shop for food, manga and a new calendar. We listened to This American Life the whole way and time seemed to fly by. This part of the trip covered Berkeley to Santa Barbara. Jason showed me his campus and we took lots of pictures of the aquatic birds. My favorite spot are the stairs that go into the ocean, just a few blocks from his apartment.
Christmas Eve we drove to El Segundo where my family was having a big party. We crashed it and everyone was very surprised. My Dad cried and I got lots of hugs from everyone. It was a traditional kind of Christmas celebration with Santa Clause making an appearance and a white elephant gift exchange for the adults. I walked away with some pot holders which I really needed. It was fun but overwhelming and we said farewell and drove to Oceanside that evening.
The next day was like any other. We went to IHOP and visited with friends and family. I practiced calligraphy, held a baby and beat everyone at poker. Much more relaxing than the previous evening. The following day we drove further to visit with more people and basically stayed up all night just talking and enjoying each others company. Also I got to hold a bunny, like a lot! I really want a bunny rabbit now. Before driving home, we decided that we should probably sleep and rented a hotel room for the evening.
Driving home took forever but we didn’t care—we just wanted to go home! We needed real food, clean water and to get the hell away from the land of styrofoam and Wallmart. We stopped in at my parents house to say hello/goodbye one last time and to Fry’s to buy some anime and then drove all night. Waking up at home the next day was blissful. Traveling is great and all but nothing beats home. The first thing I did was go to the Monterey Market and buy lots of fruit and vegetables!
After being home for a day we went driving to find snow. Took the 80 as far as we could drive before being told that we needed chains to continue. I was in snow (where it was snowing) for the first time since being a small child. It was so much fun and I was elated! I loved just walking into the deep snow, trying to catch snowflakes and taking pictures of everything! It was beautiful. And very cold. I am a little bit glad that I don’t have to worry about snow in Berkeley. I am thankful that I don’t have a car but can rent one and drive two hours to a magical snowy place.
Took the car back today and I am not missing it. Having a car is not necessary for us and we very much enjoy walking or riding bicycles around town. I cannot wait to take BART to SF and hang out during the last days of my vacation from work. I am fortunate to live in such a wonderful place!