This year, J and I had my brother Tyler as our person to give to in my family's exchange. We got him some clothes. I started wrapping the first shirt, and in my efforts to make it not look like a shirt, I ended up with an interesting shape that I thought would look pretty silly with eyes. So I added eyes and a mouth, and giggled to myself.
J was on the phone with his friend, so I got a little carried away with wrapping everything. Tyler's other presents were shaped like other animals. Then, when I got tired of making little statues out of gifts, I just started adding eyes to everything. I added scary teeth and menacing eyes to one present. For one little gift that we were giving Jess (and Mitch?), I drew one of those little disguise faces with glasses and a nose and mustache. I just kept enjoying it, so I kept going. As I laughed about my little amusement, I texted Jess and told her I was making the presents into creatures. She didn't quite understand. [Hm, I thought I got a picture of all of them, but maybe I only have a picture of the first ones. Oh well. You get the idea. The rabbit had a cotton tail on the back, and its hands are holding the tag. Fun.]
My family loved it. Steph kept not letting Tyler open any of his presents until her boyfriend came over, because she wanted him to see them. A few people from my family texted me about them. Tracy told me I should make it a tradition. So, that was something fun.
For J's dad, I Photoshop-ped a photo for him. See, he and I have this long rivalry. For his birthday last year, I gave him a U of U hat. It really surprised him, and it was pretty funny. So J's parents gave me a BYU hat for Christmas last year. J's dad and I put our hats on for a funny picture together, on Christmas morning. He never wears his hat. He definitely wouldn't put it on for a picture, except for the picture where I was right next to him wearing a BYU hat. So, from the instant we took the picture, I knew I wanted to cut his head off. In the picture, I mean. I wanted to paste that head onto some other picture. My graduation picture ended up being pretty good for that. It's still pretty obvious that it was Photoshop-ped, but that just makes it funny. I painted a frame bright red to put it in. Everyone got a kick out of it. He liked it.
For J's mom, we gave her chickens. Two White Leghorn chickens, actually. The special thing is, they are white egg layers and ours are brown and green layers, so we'll know which eggs are hers. It's a gift that keeps on giving! J's mom has been saying she wanted chickens for over a year, so we thought it would be fun to give her a couple of her own. We put them in a wrapped box and waited for someone to notice that the box was making noise and sometimes moving. Nobody noticed.
J moved the box to his mom's feet, and after a while she saw it move. It was the funniest thing, because she absolutely stared at the box after that, to verify that she had actually seen it move. She had, of course. "It's moving! My box is alive! I can see it breathing!" she suddenly announced to everyone. "I think I'd better open it now," she declared, even though it wasn't her turn.
Everyone was fascinated. What could it be? J's dad had a very interesting expression on his face. He couldn't think of anything that would be alive that he wanted. He tried to be a good sport about it anyway, but he wasn't too excited.
"They're chickens!" she announced. "Two of them!"
"At first we worried that Snickers [their outside cat] might eat them, but they have beaks and claws, so I think they'll be all right!" I explained. I think J said something about how great the birds would be for fertilizing J's dad's garden.
J's parents were not too sure what to say. J's dad was not at all excited, but was being nice. Maybe they could build a chicken coop, or fence off the yard in one place to keep the birds from getting to the garden... "I've been saying I wanted chickens for over a year!" J's mom explained to the other people who were confused about why we gave her chickens.
I explained that they can let the birds live with our chickens, and that we picked white egg layers so that we could identify which eggs are hers. That was the plan all along. J's dad was very relieved. Everyone enjoyed watching his expressions throughout the chicken gifting.
The birds sat in their box the rest of the morning, no problem. When another family came over to visit Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas, the kids all enjoyed petting the chickens. Their smallest boy really thought the birds were very interesting, and kept opening the box to check them out.
I gave J what he asked for, which was a shower filter (and refill), and two fancy-schmanzy brands of hair gel that do not contain MSG. It was really hard to find them, actually. His brand that he has been using changed their formula, and now he can't use it anymore.
J gave me what I asked for, which was a book called Seed to Seed, which is about growing heirloom plants and preserving seeds. The book looks really boring, actually. Also, really useful. I started reading it last night and I think it will be extremely helpful.
He also gave me what I wanted and did not ask for, which is a Taurus 941 revolver. It was a surprise present. When I took my Concealed Carry class, I chose one that was more than just a bare-bones class. I took a class from Welden Andersen, with Self-Defense Solutions. It was a great class, and Welden really knew his stuff. When we talked about the different kinds of firearms and different things, he passed stuff around. He had a ton of stuff, and a very useful, thick handout for the class. Also, his class included range instruction. We went out and shot targets (and we shot metal guys that fall over if you hit them right)! He looked at how we were shooting and gave people help when they needed it. I tried out my Ruger LCP, but I didn't like it at all. It was so hard to pull the trigger (a safety feature!) that my accuracy was abysmal! Since I only had hollow-point ammo ($) for my Ruger, after I shot one magazine on the Ruger, Welden let me shoot his revolver.
The revolver was amazing. I always kind of thought revolvers looked a little stupid, like, what, do you think you're a cowboy in the Wild West? But actually, I shoot extremely accurately with that revolver. It was wonderful. I liked it better than the guns I shot in my Pistol Marksmanship class, and of course better than our guns. It was very easy to shoot, and I just loved it. I wrote down the specs (Taurus 94! .22 ammo! 9 shot!) and dreamed that someday I would buy one. Recently, J and I discussed getting another small gun and I told him I wanted this particular revolver. I told him how much I love it, and that I would rather spend personal money on it than buy an off-brand one like he was suggesting. So he surprised me with it. I'm way excited! (Now...how to conceal a 4" barrel?)
We also got a neat present from J's dad. He made us a feeder for our goats. The goats toss their hay around and waste about half of it. J's dad built us this feeder (his own design), and he installed it, and now the goats don't waste any hay! And, it doesn't get wet and snowy. It is just perfect; exactly what we needed.
So. We had fun. We enjoyed spending a bunch of time with J's family. We had a wonderful dinner together. Some of the grandkids performed "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." J's dad did a neat little presentation about Zacharius. The grandkids did a costumed performance of the Christmas story (including: a donkey wearing a kangaroo skin, a girl doll with lots of curly hair that was baby Jesus, and two Marys that took turns). J and I slept under the tree at his parents' house on Christmas Eve, and it was very nice. I hadn't done that in a long time.
Now, back to being productive.