Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Holidays

Sorry I've been MIA for so long- a whole week is a long time for me to forget to post. But see, I've been very busy, between work and holiday stuff...

Thus far, I've done cashiering and fitting room attending and now there's markdowns, which we have to finish up before the ninth because that's when the store does inventory. Pretty straightforward. I have had a bit of an issue with requesting time off... See, I needed to have tomorrow, New Year's Day, off for a big family party we go to every year. I also needed last night off to go see a concert which I will tell you about later. So on Thursday I reminded my manager of this, and she said, "Oh, why didn't you request time off?"

"I did," I replied. "I mentioned it to [the other manager] when I was hired and he asked me if there were any times I wouldn't be able to work."

"But you didn't get anything in writing?"

"I was supposed to get it in writing?"

Yes, I was. See, they had neglected to tell me that there are special forms to fill out when you want to have certain days off. And it was too late to fill out the forms for tomorrow. Argh... So I basically have to try to get someone to fill in for me but if no one can, my manager did say it'd probably be okay if I didn't come in.

I keep having issues with this stuff, because it's all so different from my last job. See, the daycare I used to work at kept the same schedule every week, and I could not miss work unless I gave them two week's notice or I was infectiously ill, because missing work caused serious ratio issues and there wasn't enough supervision for the kids. Plus, scheduling was all oral. That's because it was small and non-profit, but I can't get used to a normal system.

Oh well. They haven't fired me yet, and everyone says I'm a good worker. AS long as I don't come in plastered some day I should be fine.


So, cool holiday stuff I've done:


On the 23rd, I went to the Revels with my great-aunt. This particular great-aunt is not your classic stodgy type, but is one of my strongest role models. She's eccentric and kooky and has her doctorate in Italian Studies despite getting it at a time when such things simply weren't done by women, and she's generally great fun. She was a professor of Italian for years, and she's just finished writing a translation of Italian poetry and she's getting it published.

She was kind of the black sheep of her family. The youngest of four sisters, she lived in Italy for a good chunk of her adult life and never married. Radical feminist, rabid liberal, all that fun stuff. But she mellowed a lot after her stroke and with age. Anyway, she lives in Arlington with her (male) life partner/significant other to whom she is not married, and every year she takes one of us grand-nieces or nephew to see the Christmas Revels in Sanders Theatre in Cambridge.

The Revels are a musical play/performance put on all through December every year. They change the theme each season and this year, the theme was Germanic Christmases, so they talked about St. Nicholas and his legends and Knecht Ruprecht, his companion. St. Nicholas narrated the performance, and there were traditional songs and dances, including several where the audience sings along, and then the one song and dance right before intermission where the whole audience gets up and goes out into the entrance hall and dances together and sings. It was a lot of fun.

At one point St. Nicholas called up to the stage four audience members and sat them down and asked them if they were naughty or nice, and then insisted that they tell him one thing that they had done that was naughty over the past year. The first two answered with the tamest sins they could imagine- "I eat too many sweets" and "Sometimes I don't do my chores." The next was a little girl, and St. Nicholas coaxed her, saying, "Now remember, what happens in Sanders Theatre, stays in Sanders Theatre" and then looked out over the 200 or so faces in the audience. She said she couldn't think of anything she'd done naughty, and then the last person, a middle-aged man, confessed a real sin, as if Nicholas was real, and we all cracked up and it became a running joke for the rest of the show.

If there's a Revels in your area or you live near Boston, you should go some year. It's funny, the music is beautiful, and the dancing is really neat. The atmosphere in general is wonderful and there's a real sense of community there. It's terrific.

I spent the night at my aunt's house and returned home for work the next day, missing a chance for a lobster dinner with my aunt's significant other's son. This made me sad, but oh well. Not like there's not enough good food around the holidays.



I didn't think I was supposed to work on Christmas Eve, because I didn't understand that schedules at normal places change every week. So I was two hours late, after getting a call from my boss. I felt really bad about it but there wasn't much I could do, it was an honest, if silly, mistake. But it wasn't that busy anyway, just some frantic husbands looking for jewelry or scarves, and we got out early- at 6 pm- which meant that I was able to go home for some Christmas Eve traditions.

I baked sugar cookies, much to my diabetic father's chagrin, and put some out for Santa. You can tell my parents are sort of abandoning the traditional pretense of Santa because they didn't even bother to bite the cookies like usual. Oh well. Daddy says that we'll get presents as long as we can be considered "schoolchildren," which is partially to set a limit on Santa gifts and partially to tempt Shrewd into going to graduate school. I asked if that means I'm going to get gifts from Santa until I graduate med school at age 26, or until I complete my residency at age 30, but Daddy just made a face at me.

Then we ordered Chinese food. This is a very important Christmas Eve tradition. Mummy cooks all Christmas Eve Day for Christmas, and doesn't want to cook for Christmas Eve, so we need to order takeout- but the Chinese part is a tradition. Years ago my paternal grandmother's brother, my great-uncle, decided to order takeout from one of his customers on Christmas Eve to support the man, and the man happened to own a Chinese restaurant. So my great-uncle walks through the door with "dinner-" more than enough food to feed an army. Christmas Eve, we order enough Chinese food for twenty people- we know that's what the restaurant expects because that's how many fortune cookies we get- and divide it among six eaters (my paternal grandfather spends Christmas with us). That's why I'm not allowed to eat Chinese food all through December- to prepare.

That's Christmas Eve around here- hang the stockings, put out cookies, stuff ourselves with Lo Mein and go to sleep. Great fun.

I had to sleep on Shrewd's floor, though, because I was put on the sofa bed downstairs to allow my grandfather a little more privacy and mattress quality and it kinda ruins the pretense of Santa if you see your parents creep by your bed to stuff your stockings. Shrewd's floor is dirty, crowded, and smells like eel, which is what she was carving up at work that day. She reports that she does not like to skin eels.



Shrewd and I woke up at 7:00, then waited until 8:30 when Grandpa woke up before we alerted The Brother and then went to go jump on Mummy and Daddy's bed. This, by the way, was a lot better for the furniture when we were 6, 9, and 11 instead of 16, 19, and 21. There was much pretense of being incredibly excited to see what Santa brought, more for the tradition than anything. Once Grandpa and the parents had gone downstairs, gotten some coffee, and established themselves in the family room, we were released, but the usual barreling down the stairs has become much more sedated with our advancing years.

Every year, we each get one big present from Santa, which almost never actually fits in the stocking, and then a bunch of candy and fun little things in the stocking. My big present was somewhat exciting- a digital camera. Awesome. Now I can put pictures up that I actually took, instead of stealing them from online. Then we each opened one non-Santa gift, including the adults that have been adults long enough to not be considered "the children."

We ate our traditional Christmas Breakfast of fresh-squeezed orange juice, egg casserole (half with no sausage, half with no veggies, and another pan with both- my poor mother), sweet rolls and pumpkin bread, and special sugar-free apricot bread for my dad. That last one is a new addition. Oh, and there was chocolate for breakfast, but that's pretty much par for the course around here.

After that, we opened gifts until my great aunt, and her significant other (honestly, "boyfriend" is inadequate but they aren't married, what should I call him?) arrived for Christmas dinner. My mom prepared two main dishes, one the traditional roast for Christmas and the other essentially just for me, because she can't seem to understand that I can eat side dishes. But the turkey was very good.

We finished opening presents after dinner, with our guests, and then we had pies made by my grandfather and played Trivial Pursuit until my great-aunt had to leave. It was a lot of fun. There were several cool gifts, like my mom's new Roomba, which we spent a ridiculously long amount of time watching as it cleaned the room. That thing's pretty sweet. Also cool was my new brown sweater, which my mother gave me, and which she herself admits makes me look sexy. Mothers are not supposed to say these things, it's weird. But I do love the sweater.

I also got these really neat disease plushies, E. Coli, the Common Cold and Strep Throat, which Shrewd is very jealous of, and a lovely new jewelry box that has almost enough space for my earrings. I have a lot of earrings.



Yes, we went to see Blue Man Group perform last night. It was... AWESOME. Everyone needs to see Blue Man Group once in their life. There was drumming on water and toilet paper and strobe lights and honestly, I can't describe it except to say it was funny and cool and... an experience. That's a good term, an experience.

Afterwards we all went to Finale, a very expensive but wonderful dessert shop. We ordered a couple desserts and split them. I had been there once before, with the Girl Scouts, so it was my idea. Finale is the kind of place you can financially go to only every once in a while, with intervals depending on your income, but probably not more than once a year. Health-wise, I'd recommend at least five years between visits. "Sugar-free" is like a curse-word there.

This kinda sucked for my diabetic father, but I think everyone liked the desserts. but my brother's poor girlfriend seemed a little startled that they were to be shared. I hope we didn't scare her off too bad.

Also with us was my maternal grandmother, who came up only two days after my grandfather left, so I had my own bed for a grand total of two nights. But I'm all set up to sleep in the basement now, since I decided I couldn't handle the total lack of privacy that comes from sleeping in the living room. I have an air mattress and a whole mess of blankets, because the basement is freezing.

Anyway, Grammy came with us to the concert and then afterwards we opened her presents to us, which didn't take very long. She gave each of us kids an iPod Nano, which is pretty cool. Shrewd might exchange hers for a Creative player, but she's not sure yet. So between the digital camera and the iPod I've gotten both of the big gifts that I wanted. Very cool.


So those are my holidays. I wanted to have a friends party but I never found the time, though I might do one in January before school starts up again. I may or may not be returning to regular posts, but I definitely will start up with normal posting when I return to school on the 16th.

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