December was surprisingly calm chez Exacting!
I always attempt to do “just enough” for Dec 24-Jan 1 so that it feels festive but not frantic. This was the first year (in 4) that Link didn’t come home for Christmas. But Link was celebrating in Toronto with 3 friends and had loads of activities, so I felt good knowing they’d have a good holiday season there. It was different for me not to be preparing for their extended visit over the holidays, and strange to have so much extra time, but I did not dislike it or feel sad. Of course, Link’s upcoming visit in two weeks time has a lot to do with it!
I started gift shopping on Nov 30 and finished up on Dec 21. I liked that it was “contained” and didn’t encroach on the rest of the year (although I always pick up a few trinkets for others on my travels). It was a novelty to send Link’s in the mail! Unlike last year, I wasn’t inundated with potluck parties for various committees. I had two low-key work events which I enjoyed. The UU church has its annual Solstice service which is a long tradition in our family. With no scheduled concerts or activities, Rom and I spent the remainder of the year’s entertainment budget on meals out. We normally go to a favourite spot for lunch on the 24th with Link, and decided not to go there with just us two, and tried out a new Persian restaurant instead. Another day we went to a super-deluxe holiday brunch buffet (for locals: at the Prince George Hotel). We debated whether to go for a small or artificial Christmas tree, but decided to do the usual: a seven-foot real tree, and had no regrets. The cats didn’t bother with it this year. At 8, they must be getting old! We made one shortcut, putting electric candles in the windows instead of hanging the star-shaped outdoor lights.
My family is close by and my parents do Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner at their place. We would not do the same on our own at home, so we’re thrilled to be able to just “go along” instead of creating it ourselves. Mom is a champ and makes all the old-time favourites: Acadian rabbit pie for Christmas Eve (no, I do not eat it, I bring veggie lasagna!), mince tarts, dark and light fruit cakes, gingerbread and shortbread, and Christmas/plum pudding with rum sauce. She has even added Brussels sprouts to the Christmas dinner for Rom, and we all like them now! At our own house, I made lasagna, split pea soup, and chick pea curry, and we alternated them for as long as they lasted. I didn’t bake anything, so Turtles (chocolates) and salted caramels had to suffice 🙂
It was a very green Christmas with fog and rain, but this past week we made up for it, and I have a start on my #snowmuscles once again! I had 5 days off at Christmas and 4 this weekend for New Year’s, all of which I needed to get over a long-lasting cold. I am finally seeing the last of it.
Mid-December I went for a “financial check-up” at my bank and made all kinds of improvements to reduce fees and invest better. I’ll post about that soon.
Finally, I could not end the year without adding another piece of technology to the house 😦 I had a home theatre system which was high-end when I bought it 13 years ago, but is lacking by today’s standards: no wireless connectivity, visible wires all over the house, and no HDMI. So I replaced it with a sound bar. I subscribed to Apple Music this year and now I can stream it. I am a bit of an audiophile, and the new system has more of a “popular” sound mix, but it is above average, and I can still listen to music through Rom’s reference speakers when ultimate quality counts. If anyone out there is looking for a sound bar, I can email you the details.
This week marks 4 years of blogging at An Exacting Life. A sincere thanks to everyone who has followed along. I am not promising to blog more, or update or improve anything, but you can count on me to still be here in the year ahead. I love this place and the camaraderie you bring. Happy 2016!
P.S. Of course, like everyone else we re-watched the original Star Wars movies in preparation for seeing the new one!