The choir was rehearsing Handel's The Messiah - it was amazing! I hadn't been to a choir performance in a couple years, so it was exciting; although, I do have to admit that I fell asleep during the second half - the music was just so relaxing...
The weekend before Christmas we were invited to attend three different Christmas parties! The first party was thrown by a family in our ward who purchased Ben's reading of "Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol" at an auction. Ben sold this reading last year at the same auction and it was a big hit. There were about 30 people who attended the party and reading. Once again, it received great reviews: Jacob Marley's perspective of the Christmas Carol is a great way to see the story in a new light.
The second party was a dinner party/white elephant gift exchange with several couples without children and two couples with babies under 9 mths. These couples are becoming our core group of friends. We really made out at the white elephant gift exchange: Ben got a set of ear candles - you know, the tubes you stick in your ears and when you light the wick and they supposedly suck out the wax. According to wikipedia they are "dangerous and ineffective." I got a small package of things: a small measuring tape - which is extremely convenient for work, an old USB stick, and a deck of playing cards.
The third party was very different from the second. This party was a potluck for a few families in our ward - and by "families" I mean those with several kids. It was much more... noisy. It was great, though, to get to visit with some people we'd previously only seen in passing. And a group of pre-teen girls (and one outgoing 5-year-old) just loved having Ben's attention for a good half-hour.
The week before Christmas we got a tree! We decided on a cute little 3ft tree perfect for our apartment:
A tree tiny enough to carry home with one hand!
It fit right on the dresser next to the tv.
On December 23rd we spent the day in the City. We had been looking forward to this trip since we realized we'd be spending winter up here. We had lunch at an Irish pub/restaurant, went window shopping at a few stores way beyond our monetary imaginations (including a really cool steampunk-esque store with floor-to-ceiling windows filled with antique sewing machines). From there we went ice skating in Union Square... which was... just... perfectly romantic. I had never gone, and if I do say so myself, I did pretty good for a first-timer. We collectively only fell twice. It was a great location for the rink - surrounded by three large department stores that were themselves all decked out for Christmas, and Union Square had a large tree and holiday music playing.
Ben on the rink.
Babs on the rink.
After ice skating we decided to walk to Ghiradelli Square. We got there just in time to get free samples of their peppermint bark! They were giving out samples at every door, so we were able to get three... just enough to satisfy our chocolate craving.
Having had our dessert we figured it was time to get dinner so we walked to Fisherman's Wharf for clam chowder and crab. From there we walked to Pier 39 which is (as Ben likes to refer to it) "San Francisco's version of Downtown Disney." Needless to say it was a rather enjoyable place.
We caught a really cool street car (the car originated in Philadelphia) back to the BART and headed home.
Christmas Eve - after a full day of work - we drove down to San Luis Obispo where we spent Christmas with some of Ben's family. Ben's sister and brother-in-law, MaryRuth and Dominic, were there with their kids, which was great because we've (or at least I've) gotten to visit with them the least. It was great spending more time with them. Christmas was wonderful - definitely a great first holiday together. We only wish we didn't have to leave so soon.
Since we weren't able to go out to visit my mom, we sent her cut-outs of Ben and me that I drew and pasted onto cardboard - that way she could take us with her to the movies: