3 Pics of my Christmas Past

Christmas is unique for a number of reasons.  Looking beyond what much of the world seems to focus on now, most of the holiday season is really about family.  Sure, Christ is preeminent in the festivities, but my most fond memories are of my family.  I also look forward to Christmas with some degree of food, friends, family, and the reason why we join together (to remember Christ).

This is the earliest picture I have of a Christmas, probably around 1981, where I am just over 2 years old.

One of the miracles of a photograph is the memories it can conjure from the past.  I do not remember this Christmas, but so much of the picture is familiar to me.  I can see the shape of my Grandmother’s arm, jewelry, and hand in the background reaching from the couch in the darkened picture.  I do not look terribly happy, but then again, I am being stopped from unwrapping my Christmas present.  The candy and family are much of what I remember of those early Christmas years.  My cousin, Brook Jonas, is the one smiling in the background.  He must have already opened a present.

My first Christmas memory is in the same room, probably a year or two later.  I remember a huge number of presents, probably just because I was young, piled around the fireplace (which was not used).  I remember a disgust in opening a box of underwear.  The day went on and we had finished all our presents, but alas, we had not.  We were informed we were not and Evan told us he could still see some presents for us.  The hunt commenced.  Eventually, he had to show us where he had hidden some little boxes inside the actual Christmas tree.  Upon opening, Andra, Brook, and I were proud owners of some pretty nice harmonicas.  I believe I still have mine, but would have to rummage through my storage to make sure.  Maybe it is Andra’s.  One stayed in a drawer at my Grandma’s for many years until one year we discovered it was in pieces in the box.  Somebody had destroyed it.  We knew it was my cousin May probably 10 years later, but nobody said anything.

This next picture is the first picture I have of a Christmas at our home.

I am pretty sure it is before Christmas as my Mom is standing on the couch and is probably helping to decorate.  We probably just finished and I was anxious to plug in the tree.  I do remember this Christmas and had to be about 1984.  I think that is the year we moved into this house located on the frontage road just a few miles up the road from the house we would move in to in 1991.

A flood of memories and other ideas come from the picture.  The tree is obviously real and really kind of a Charlie Brown tree.  There are the massive lights that you can see a few of in the picture.  Then a few balls and quite a bit of tinsel which seems a little heavier towards the front.  Nothing like some of the pretty fancy trees you see now.

Notice we would hang the tinsel on the doorknob and pull off a few strands at a time for the tree.  The carpet would be torn up in a few years to expose the hardwood floor underneath.  Dad would put paneling halfway up the walls in years to come and that rattlesnake skin was hidden somewhere else in the house.  That door with the center doorknob would remain as long as we lived in the house.  I have never seen a center doorknob at any other time.  I do not know what Andra is doing with the tube, probably left over from wrapping paper.  One of the chains from the cuckoo clock are visible above the tree.

This next picture is from a Christmas about 1988, give or take a year.

This picture is taken in my sister’s bedroom with the pink carpet and brass bed.  This is probably a day or two after Christmas since I had moved the location of the track.  Notice the legos, probably a new addition as well.  The longer hair, the cargo pants, and a new racetrack, and I look like I am having a ball.  I remember loving that little track (and many years of legos) but my greatest memory of this Christmas is something else.

Somewhere I had picked up a bad habit.  Rather than saying something like, “I really like…” I would say, “Me likes…” and my Mom was not pleased.  Since I was home over the Christmas Break, my Mom caught me saying it multiple times and gave me some very stern warnings.  At some point, sitting somewhere on the floor near where I am, I remember saying the “me” language multiple times in a series of sentences and my Mom reaching out and knuckling me on the head so hard I cried.  From that point on, I got a knuckle on the head if I said it.  Within days the habit was broke and I am now a better man.  Unfortunately, Mom’s grammar has slipped where she is now, and I cannot help but shake my head at the knuckles I got over the years for the very same grammar mistakes she now makes; i.e. caint as opposed to cannot or can’t.

I have a couple of other pictures from this Christmas, most notably where I was given my first saddle.  But that one will have to wait before I share it (because I am in my underwear and a shirt and sitting on it).

At any rate, I miss the memories of Christmas past.  While I love my family now, I miss all the extended family being together, the massive Christmas meals, and listening to the stories of people chat after dinner while we played with toys.  Perhaps someday when I live closer to family, the new memories similar to those of mine in the past will be recreated for little Aliza.  Christmas is about family being together, not the gifts we give (and maybe even a lesson or two, perhaps even grammar).

Season’s Greetings

A few notes on the life of the Ross Family in preparation for Christmas 2008.

All the presents are wrapped and to be found under the tree.  The presents have been there for a couple of weeks so we have avoided the last minute panic.  Well, almost.  Amanda has a present she ordered for me several weeks which has to arrive.  But that is ultimately out of our hands.  We are ready and awaiting for Christmas morning to dawn.

Christmas should be interesting.  We have invited over the missionaries, Elder Martin from Bountiful and Elder Clark from Spring City, for Christmas lunch.  Ultimately it is for the use of our mobile phones.  They both have about an hour in which to speak and with two cell phones, they can both make their calls at the same time.  We don’t mind, we have racked up over 1000 rollover minutes.

We have the Institute missionary couple over for dinner on Sunday.  Elder and Sister Twiss are from St. George.  They will be joining us for dinner.  I invited them.  Neither Amanda and I remembered we already had Elder Martin and Elder Clark for dinner that same day.  Now we will have 4 full time missionaries at our dinner on Sunday!  We need the blessings.  We have determined to feed them curry, rice, and pompadoms.  Amanda is going to make some Naan Bread as well and I will make an English Trifle.  Should be fun!  To add to it all, Amanda and I have both been asked to speak in Sacrament on Sunday.  It is going to be a full day!  We are both speaking on goals.  We have known about this for more than two months.  I am going to dedicate the week to writing that talk and working on family history for my kind patron.  I hope to put in a good 40 hours over the next few weeks.  Hopefully that will pay for next semester’s law books and some other bills.

We took our beloved Rhonda in today.  For those who are not aware, that is the name of our little Camry.  Not long after I purchased her, somebody asked what her name was.  I stated I did not know.  The classic Beach Boys Song, Help me Rhonda, came on right after that.  Since I have a long history with the song, I thought it would be perfect.  Anyhow, we took her in for an oil change this morning.  She has been making some strange noise on the passenger side of the car in the rear wheel and some in the front wheel.  I was hoping it would be a small, easy job.  But alas, my fears were realized.  Both shock absorbers on that side of the car have started leaking.  Upon further inspection, all four shock absorbers need replaced.  Seeing how they are all inside MacPherson Struts, that puts at about $1600 to replace all four!  The one is leaking bad enough they suggested replacement within the next 6 months.  To add to that, they were kind enough to point out where one of my engine mounts have cracked.  Well, I have another $400 in replacing my engine mounts to look forward to.  I can break the forward and rear struts into two visits.  The engine mounts will probably last me another 9 months, they will have to.  It is still cheaper than purchasing a new car.  Additionally, the engine and body are in great shape.  Hopefully we can still get another 150,000-250,000 miles out of her.  I sure hope so!

Some more news on our little abode.  The weather has turned particularly cold the past week.  Our poor little furnace just can’t seem to keep up with it.  Amanda and I have accepted we will probably have little communication from our feet in the upcoming months.  The floors just don’t seem to want to stay warm.  I will look forward to insulating the attic and hopefully the walls this summer.  It will surely help with air conditioning as well.  Our poor air conditioning unit on the warmest days struggled to keep the house below 80.  We normally set the air conditioning at 75.  Some days it got as warm as 83 in the house.  It just couldn’t keep up.  We have the heat set at 72 but our feet don’t really gain their feeling back as it seems the lower portions of each room never warm.

On a good note, I ripped out much of the lathe, plaster, and sheetrock from two walls of the main bathroom this past week.  Now we are ready to start looking at installing the new sheetrock.  I still need to pull off the top layer of rotten wood on the floor.  We have a company coming tomorrow to give us an estimate on installing the new tub and gear with it.  I am looking forward to it.  Their ideas and products will determine whether I pull out the dividing wall of the bathroom.  Hopefully we can pull out the wall to really open up the room.  It just depends if we can get a product to enclose the shower/tub without requiring a wall.  Then I can determine whether I need to rip the rest of the sheetrock off that wall so we can do the whole thing at once.  (That remaining portion still has the lathe under the sheetrock so it would need to be pulled out to make it all level.)

The plumber came last week and finished most of the plumbing job.  We are going to wait until spring to replace the outside spigots and redo the gas line.  He will also come back to hook up our new bathtub and shower.  That job is mostly done.  I am glad.  What next?  We will see.  We have electrical work before we insulate.

A little update about finals and school.  I have never experienced anything quite like finals in my life.  As I have written previously, it was nothing like I had experienced.  The actual examinations, the three hours of finals, was really nothing new.  As I have written, it reminded quite a bit of some of my exams at Utah State.  However, the studying and understanding everything in such a way as to be able to explain it under a new set of facts and apply it to the situation was new.  Anyhow, I feel I have been successful.  Contracts was done and left me with no surprises.  I feel like I nailed the first question squarely on the head.  The rest I feel I did a good job on, but not excellent.  I expect I did at least average and can hope I at least made the C range.  I am hoping I made it into B or even possible A territory.  Torts came next.  Boy, that one was a bear!  Four hours of exam, three questions.  It just about killed me.  I had a headache and my left eye ached very badly after such intense attention for 4 hours.  My eye pain was enough I am considering going to the eye doctor for fear of eye fatigue.  But after the exam, I again felt I did well.  Nothing was new and I felt I did a good job of covering each of the issues and explaining the reasoning on the outcome I was predicting.  I am confident enough in Torts to hope I am comfortably in the B range.  Lastly, we have Civil Procedure.  This is the one that was so simple it is frightening.  Honestly, it didn’t seem very challenging.  If that is the case, if all excel on it, we all get C’s!  I have yet to hear of anyone who thinks it was not easy.  What is more, I analyzed the right method on the first question, but I took the wrong line of thinking with relation to how I got there.  I covered all the material but two sentences segue was wrong and I am hoping it doesn’t penalize me.  The same for another question, I made a comment as if the judgment was a default judgment.  I knew it wasn’t but that comment could hurt me.  Therefore, if the exam was that simple, my mistakes could put me in the C- range, or even D!  I surely hope not.  I feel like I really mastered the information, but my mistakes under pressure might be what cost me the points.  I can hope!  Too bad I cannot amend my final answer like you can a pleading in the real world.  Oh well, I am confident I am at least average and will not flunk out after my first semester.  There is still hope I can pull a B out of Legal Writing and Analysis.  I doubt I or anyone I am close friends with will pull an A in any of the classes.  Hopefully I will be surprised.  We made an agreement with some of us.  If anyone gets an A, we are going out for sushi.  If a B, then we will just go out to eat.

Anyhow, we are happy.  We were planning on going out to Idaho/Utah beginning in 2009.  However, with costs, time away from potential work, and now needed car work, I doubt we will make it.  I would like to finish as much of the bathroom before school starts again as I can.  Plus, there is always other things to work on.  Plus I can do family history to make sure some money continues to come in while Amanda is off work.

Time to sign off.  We will see what this coming week holds for us.