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ed, kelli, and okua the wolf dog dressed in dismal christmas morning wear. okua has a reindeer antler jingle bell headband. ed has piggy pants and a crimson bath robe. in the back yars. Kelli and Okua, the wolf dogKelli and I had a very satisfying Christmas. So did our rent-a-pup Okua, despite the long face. Okua got a bag of huge rawhide chews, a huge rope bone with big knots in it, a rawhide sleigh filled with puppy treats of all colors, and a puppy play toy candy cane. She made out like a bandit.

Kelli got the new Ray Lamontagne CD, an Ani DiFranco/Utah Phillips CD, a Foreman grill, some foofy chick stuff, and more foofy chick stuff. I got a crimson red robe, some DVDs, and a hand carved mahogany piggy from Brazil.

We did the church thing on Christmas eve, as we always do. Kelli did one of the readings, as she is now doing every year. She reads the part that sounds better being read by a woman. We went to the so-called Calabrese Compound for a Brazilian style Xmas eve dinner, ostensibly at midnight, though I think we were all done by then and on our ways home. There was too much delightful food, and this endlessly fun name game for the best name to bestow upon the chosen drink for the night, Southern Comfort and soy egg nog (Silk soymilk). Imagine every permutation of "Southern Comfort" and "Silk Soy Nog" and you can get the picture. The drink itself was actually pretty damned good. Imagine that, a holiday drink that's actually good for you! Anyhow, the greater Calabrese family has in one form or another been our lifeline to family events for the last year. Papa Phil has been very hospitable to Kelli and I for the time since we have gotten together. This year, he gave her away at the wedding, standing in for her own father who died some years ago. Phil and his partner Nancy have been sooooo good to us, inviting us to all sorts of family occasions. This dinner was actually at the house next door to his (this two house arrangement being the "compound"), the one where son Adam lives with his Brazilian wife. Anyhow, Adam and Carol hosted this party and it was just a great time on my favorite holiday. We came home and crashed almost immediately.

Then today, Kelli and I did the Christmas morning thing with the dog. It was just us this year. No parents of any sort. Okua made for some fun times as we tried to get pictures of her with the silly reindeer antlers. Usually those are Kelli's to wear. Either way, it's cute. Then we went off to dinner at yet another Calabrese house (sort of, Cindy and Phil aren't married any more, but they still are very good at keeping the family activities going and healthy) for even more dinner! This house was packed even more than the night before. Kelli used to live there for about a year, so we both were sort of at home there. There was some food we recognized from the night before (so much of the stuff), and a whole host of new stuff too. It was amazing. There must have been 20 people there. There wasn't any Comfort Nog, but the wine flowed well enough! I even dozed off uncharacteristically in the midst of all the commotion when it came time for gifts to be traded and opened.

And then we came home and crashed again!

I have to say how great it was for the entire Calabrese clan to have us over, again and again during the course of the year. They have been cause for a good time, but really more than that. They've been family to us. Phil even went so far to say during his toast at the wedding that he had sort of adopted us. Aw, sweet. Kelli has long had a closer relationship with the family, but I have known them through the church for as long as I can remember, and there were times back in high school days when Kelli and I were at their parties for Thanksgiving or maybe other times. We go pretty far back, but from back then, it was hard to know what all that was leading up to. A lot of really great holiday experiences have been had with them, or maybe with other members of the church. Kelli and I are sort of like orphans, what with her mom being on the other side of the country, and my old man being too cool for holidays or something. The last two years we have had holidays with her mom and my dad and step mom, but this year, we just went our own way for our first married Christmas. At least it will go down as a good one.

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