A holly jolly weekend

I spent Christmas weekend at my sister’s house in Maryland. My parents and I drove there, the dog in the back seat of the car with me and the presents tucked away in the trunk, early on Saturday morning. That evening, we went out for a nice Christmas Eve dinner in Bethesda, just the eight of us — my sister, her husband, his mother, my parents, my aunt and uncle, and me — and the next day we had brunch and Christmas dinner both at my sister’s house. Aside from our dog, who got into a panic when we left him at my sister’s and headed back to the hotel last night — he’s very much a creature of quiet comforts and habit, and my sister’s dog is a little rambunctious by comparison — I think everyone had a lovely time.

Hope you had a lovely holiday and/or weekend.

I’m just amazed that it’s already the end of Monday. Where’d that first half of my vacation go?

Holiday various

Memorial Day

I spent the day mostly reading, mostly in the backyard, except when the sun got too hot and I had to come back in. My iPad actually overheated, which has never happened before, and refused to start again until it had cooled down. The next time I went out, I brought along the more traditional paper-and-binding type books. I’m mostly alternating between Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan, although I threw a little collected Tintin in for good measure.

It was a lovely day, and the weather, although warm, couldn’t have been much nicer. When I woke up this morning, a little after eight, I noticed it was raining, and I thought, well, that’s it then. Our streak of unanticipated clear and sunny skies has come to an end. But the rain had all gone away by the time I actually got dressed, and it must have been perfect weather for a Memorial Day parade.

I didn’t see any of the parade myself, even though the route runs past just a couple of blocks away, and I could hear some of the gun salute at the town memorial up the road. I don’t think I’ve seen the parade since I was last in it, and that was easily sixteen or seventeen years ago, when I was still in the Boy Scouts.

Nevertheless, I am grateful to all the men and women who’ve served in the Armed Forces over the years, particularly those who have died defending our nation and freedoms. I recognize that I wouldn’t have this day of good weather and lazy reading — though no barbecue; we had burgers last night — were it not for their sacrifices. Many thanks.

‘Tis the season

No big presentations to attend today, though we did have a quick team meeting — ostensibly to review the titles under contract and in production, but mostly just to plan the date for our group’s holiday lunch and photo.

Every year we go out to lunch as a group, separate from the office-wide holiday party, and every year we take a group photo that we send as a holiday card to our authors. It’s interesting to look back at those photos and see just how much our lineup has changed since I came on board in 2006, with people leaving for other jobs, going back to school, moving across country, et cetera. Last year, we branched out beyond the Christmas tree in reception and took the photo in front of the New York Public Library. This year, we’re going all-out New Yorker and heading to Rockefeller Center for the photo. That’s not exactly far, though it’s not one block away like the Library, and I wonder if we’re not underestimating the distance in what’s very quickly become a very cold city. (Sure, low 30’s and 40’s are nothing to some of you, but I really sort of wished I’d worn a hat to work today.) And while there was maybe some concern that taking a holiday photo on December 13th was too soon, considering how early Hanukkah is this year — tonight’s the second night — we’re probably safely splitting the difference between that and Christmas, Kwanzaa, et al. And considering that most of us are going to be out the entire last week of December — and a couple, myself included, the entire last two weeks — we didn’t have a lot of other days to choose from.

I have to admit, I skipped the tree lighting in the reception area, despite the lure of eggnog and homemade cookies, and despite the fact that our team meeting ended in plenty of time to attend. I’m not a grinch, not by any means. I’ve gone on record to say I think it’s way too soon for houses decked out in lights and nothing but an endless cycle of carols on the radio — to say nothing of the electrical cost of the former, or the real mediocrity of a lot of the latter. And I definitely think it was too early right after — or before Thanksgiving. But I like Christmas decorations, and Christmas songs, and I like holidays in general. I just like celebrating them, you know, around the holiday season. But I mostly didn’t attend the tree lighting (or, rather, switching-on) because it crams about a hundred or more people into a space that maybe comfortably holds ten.

Maybe next year, when we’ve moved into our shiny new offices. I hear the cookies were really quite good.