SUGAR LAND--Christmas greetings to all of you who so celebrate, from here in soggy Sugar Land (it's a good thing this place isn't really made of sugar, or we'd have to call it Syrup Land today). It's nothing like two years ago, when it was snowing at this point in time, but the car thermometer read 46 degrees when we left church about an hour ago...so it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, at least in a rather non-Houston sort of way.
On the surface, it's a very different Christmas for me, because I'm typing this from a hotel...which means that it's the first Christmas, ever, that I'm not sleeping at Mom and Dad's house on Christmas Eve night. But as I said before, it's really no big deal, because I get the quiet night of sleep, with lots of space to stretch out; if I'd been at the house, it would be sleeping bag time on the living room floor. (And honestly, with the righteous number of presents that my three nephews are getting, there wouldn't really be room for me to crash there anyway.)
At any rate, it's been a mostlly chill time around here; I spent some time at Sugar Land Town Square (there's that word I can't type again) and the adjacent First Colony Mall today (the latter of which has done something very smart by appending a town center-like section that goes out from the parking lot almost all the way to the actual town square, which, like Southlake, has a hotel and City Hall among its amenities). All they need now is a literal bridge between the two places and they're good to go--instant downtown in a former company town that never really had one. (For a brief history of Sugar Land, read this post from 2003.)
I'm not sure how it was in your neck of the woods, but the frantic last-minute holiday shopping wasn't nearly so crowded as I thought it might be; perhaps the fact that it was a Sunday helped things in that respect. (And if you're wondering, I didn't actually save any shopping till the last minute; rather, there's this coupon from a major department store that my mom gets every year for $10 off almost anything in the store. The coupon always expires on Christmas Eve, and she always gives it to me for a little present for myself. This year, I got a pair of dress pants--meaning "something without cargo pockets"--for ten bucks. Good stuff.)
I played background music in the narthex before the last three services at Mom and Dad's church tonight; it seemed to go over pretty well. The timing of that meant that I didn't get to sing with the choir as I'd done in previous years, but it also allowed me to sit with Mom at the 9 p.m. service; the rest of the gang were sleeping or resting at the house.
(It was interesting to note that the narthex took on a sort of Starbucks-like atmosphere this evening: Over in one corner were tables filled with cookies and cupcakes, while the other side had a guy manning a cappuccino machine and myself in the background. There was also a small bookstore behind us that was open tonight. In fact, the lady who runs the bookstore told my dad that one of her friends had called her from Las Vegas while she was working. The friend heard the saxophone wafting in the background--yes, I'm pretty sure I wafted a few times tonight--and said, "Wait, I thought you were in church!" When the bookstore lady said that she was in fact in church, saxophone soundtrack and all, the friend said, "Wow, I want to go to that church!")
As I got near to the hotel, the CD ran out in the car; that allowed me to pop in Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas right before the car clock hit midnight--my favorite Christmas CD to start one of my favorite days of the year.
I have more to talk about, but I'll save it till later; one of the things about sharing Christmas with really little kids is that they like to start early. I'm due back at Mom and Dad's at 8 a.m. (*yawn*), so my quiet night of sleep will also be short (just like the nights-before-Christmas of old when I could hardly sleep from the excitement of Santa's visit, except I've transferred that to the nephews). I'll post again in the morning or later on at night. In the meantime, I wish you a most joyful day today.
Yes, Virginia...: I'm usually not a big fan of polls, but I'm happy to acknowledge this one from the AP stating that Santa Claus is alive and well in our hearts here in the USA.