Another Christmas has come and gone, and we’re approaching the New Year. It was a tough season, with my crushing work deadlines running right up to January 1; we didn’t do all the decorating and hoo-rah that we normally do, but you know what? As the Grinch discovered,

“[Christmas] came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes, or bags!”

He puzzled and puzzed till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!

The inestimable Dr. Seuss

This year we made generous donations on behalf of the adults in our family, with very small token gifts for each person. My employer matches 100% of donations up to $2,500 total, so we made sure to do donations through their system and double the dollars. I felt pretty smart about that.

Benji received Pokemon pajamas, Pokemon cards, and a Pokemon book he really wanted. Commence the Poke-mania.

Christmas evening Colleen and Jordan joined us, fresh from their flight from LA, and we celebrated with our traditional Happy Birthday, Jesus! Birthday Cake:

Happy Birthday Jesus, 2018

On December 26, my entire side of the family, including Colleen and Jordan, went to Lopez Island for four nights. I’ve made some tough choices and culled down to one picture per day.

Going to Lopez Ferry Puzzle
We got started on a 1,000 piece puzzle on the ferry to Lopez. Sadly it’s only 40 minutes, so we didn’t get that far; plus, we suspect some of the pieces were missing.
Lopez Loop: Iceberg Point
On Thursday morning Dad and I went for a 45-mile ride around Lopez Island. We started in the dark and got to see the sunrise. We went slow, but appreciated every beautiful minute.
Yule Log
On Friday it rained ceaselessly. Benji went a little stir-crazy, but Colleen and I did manage to squeeze in the time to make a Yule Log, which we’d planned well in advance. It turned out beautiful and delicious.
Shark Reef
On Saturday it rained hard most of the day, but in the morning we got out to Shark Reef before the rain started. It’s a tiny park with a minimal hike but a truly spectacular view. My phone camera really couldn’t do it justice. The Olympics, the sunrise, the currents, sea lions and eagles and enough moss and lichen to warm any botanist’s heart.
Ferry Home
On Sunday morning just Benji, Ian, and I caught the 9:30 ferry back home. We got in line an hour early, so we arrived just after sunrise, and again got some wonderful views. The San Juan Islands really do spoil a person for natural beauty.

Not pictured:

  • The countless hours Colleen and Benji played Pokemon, with Benji being different pokemons (Bulbasaur, Pikachu, Jiggly-Puff, and Charmander, I believe) and Colleen acting as the trainer;
  • Playing lots of board games, including Shadows in the Forest (cool concept but a rocky execution), Tofu Kingdom, Azul, and Mole Rats in Space (we lost two consecutive games, much to our astonished dismay);
  • Doing two puzzles, including one 1,000-piece puzzle in one day (Benji “helped” by taking pieces apart — gah!!);
  • Going out for walks in the dark and rain;
  • Going out for walks in the dim and cloudy;
  • Benji sleeping on a pile of pillows in the closet of our master bedroom and waking us up at the crack of dawn even on vacation (gah again!);
  • Watching a couple of the new season of Mystery Science Theater episodes (Mac & Me and Atlantic Rim — both truly terrible, as expected);
  • The amazingly uncomfortable “carpet” made out of what appeared to be rope, and an entry way made of the same large aggregate cement they use in driveways, truly a brutal floor for bare feet;
  • Lovely views from the beach-front side of the house;
  • The bazillion times we reminded Benji to please be quiet, because Jordan and Colleen were still “sleeping” (I seriously doubt there was a lot of sleeping going on after 6:30 am, but the thought was there).

We left the island a little earlier than anticipated, at 9:30 am rather than 1:30 pm, and that was a good call. We got home in time to rest and reset, and Colleen, Jordan, and my parents joined us just in time for Indian food dinner and one last game of Pokemon-and-trainer.

Overall, a good but exhausting trip. Now do I get a vacation to recover from my vacation?

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