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Hi, I hope that everyone had good Christmas or whatever holiday (or holidays) that you celebrate. This year’s holiday season was dampened both by the recent loss of my father-in-law Ken and the theft of our Christmas decorations. Nevertheless, both Rachel and I had a good time.

On Christmas Eve, we went to my mother-in-law Pam’s house. We had dinner and spent the evening exchange presents and talking. While I enjoy both receiving and giving gifts as much as the next person does, the real joy is spending time with friends and family. On Christmas Day, we drove out to Rachel’s grandparents’ house for dinner. Again, the fun is in conversing with everyone. Of course, I did enjoy the food.

Speaking of food, Rachel and I did our share of cooking and baking this holiday season. A friend of mine bought me some eggnog as a present. I am glad that eggnog is not usually available year round. Otherwise, I would probably drink it instead of milk. Anyway, Rachel noticed a recipe on the cartons for eggnog cookies. Therefore, she spent a day making cookies (both eggnog and other kinds). She wanted to give some to coworkers and families. But, she had to keep re-portioning the cookies; we kept changing our mind about the number of cookies we wanted for ourselves. Also, having me eating them as she was portioning them out did not help matters.

The main point of celebrating Christmas is not the presents, but I cannot help to talk about some of the things that I received: It is no secret that I like playing cards and eating popcorn. Consequently, I received mostly popcorn-related or card-related gifts. I got two popcorn containers filled with various treats. I am trying to exercise some self-control. However, I know that I will give in eventually. Rachel got me some new DVDs. Now I have a good excuse to try out the containers.

As for the playing card theme, the most beneficial gift I receive was a set of coaster that resembles poker chips. Since I spend most of my day with a cup (or two) of liquid by my side, the coaster will come in handy. Now I will not have to worry about coffee-ring stains. I also received a set containing 500 poker chips, 2 decks of cards, and dice. Unfortunately, most of the people that I have played cards with will no longer play with me any more. However, I keep trying to get Rachel to play with me.

In addition to the cards in the poker set, I also received two other decks of cards: One was a clear deck. The other one had different cocktails on each card. When I looked at the latter deck, the first recipe (on the ace of spades) called for lighting the drink on fire. I asked Rachel if she really wanted me to mix alcohol and fire. Even though I rarely drink alcohol, I thought that it would be fun to try a different mix every week.

I was thinking about titling this entry “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.” However, it seems that more and more people are getting offended no matter which greeting you use. Rachel offended a patron by saying “happy holidays.” Rachel calmly told the guest that she tries to vary the greeting every time. As for me, it does not make a difference. “Merry Christmas,” “happy holidays,” “happy snow day,” or “happy Hanukkah,” all mean about the same to me. At any rate, I titled this entry a bit differently. So, happy no-“L” (Noel).

Tagline for today: “Last year for Christmas, I got a humidifier and a dehumidifier. I thought I’d put them in the same room and let them fight it out.” - Steven Wright