Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Very Minimalist Christmas

Sometimes I am a genius. It's not bragging if it's true. This whole minimalism thing? Genius.

Just so we're all on the same page, my idea of minimalism is more about mindful consumerism and choosing experiences over things than, say, sitting around in an empty house. I mean, that's cool if you ARE sitting around in an empty house (um, if you choose that yourself and didn't just have your furniture repossessed, I guess) and you like it that way. I just really enjoy a couch.

So all of that is to say that for Christmas last year, my parents gave our little family of four a choice: Presents or a mini-vacation?
TALL trees.
We chose mini-vacation. Sometimes the decisions just make themselves. My brother Tim wanted in on that action, too, so this family vacation? Included a lot of family.

My parents made all the arrangements and didn't tell us anything, not even a hint, about where we would be going until Christmas (or, in my family, December 23. That's just how we roll*). I am not really a fan of surprises (it's a control issue I'm working on), but I tried to just enjoy the suspense. Also, Mom always makes sure I have Almond Roca, so, you know, that helped.

And so, with much fanfare and quite a bit of clapping, we learned that our mini-vacation was to the California Redwoods and Wildlife Safari. Fast forward six months, and there we were, having Christmas in June.

There was QUITE a bit of driving involved--Redwood Day we put in 12 hours, although not all of that was in the car, of course--but wow, it was fun. The weekend included swimming, bacon for breakfast (a prerequisite with Johanna when this whole idea came up), a walk through tall trees, Paul Bunyan, the Pacific Ocean, cheetahs and like seven baby emu. Dude, baby emu are CUTE.
It's kind of like the Ugly Duckling in reverse.
Also, Tim caused quite a stir in the Crescent City Information Center. When you're 6'10", people tend to notice you and want to ask questions. He is a very kind, good soul, and I got a kick out of watching him interact with that teeny older woman who was ever so pleased with herself for initiating the conversation.

But the best part was family time. Time for our little family, sure, but also time with an uncle the girls don't get to see very often, and exploring and adventure with grandparents they do. The girls will remember this trip for a lot longer than they'd ever have used... I don't know, whatever else they could have gotten for Christmas. Thankfully the girls have been beaten down so much that they don't require a present every time we hit a gift shop--because we visited plenty of those--so besides a couple of squished pennies (one for Uncle Tim) and a keychain (Johanna wanted to put it on her backpack and I caved), our purchases were limited to consumables. Buying ice cream cones instead of stuffed animals? Again, I say unto you: Genius. Mom really tried to sell me on some Paul Bunyan and Babe Salt and Pepper Shakers, but I stayed strong, yo, and walked out of that place with nothing. I know, sometimes I don't know how I do it, either...
Photo via Trees of Mystery Gift Shop. Also: That's a lot of chest hair.
We've been to both places before, so it wasn't technically anything new, but can you get enough tall trees and cheetahs? I would argue, quite successfully, I think, that you cannot. Because the Redwoods? Those trees are amazing. We saw one that had been completely gutted by a fire--but it was still growing tall and strong. Dad said that's because they're indestructible. I guess you'd have to be to last a thousand years.

And Wildlife Safari is just cool--I've been going their fairly regularly since I was five (no joke, my parents love that place), and it holds a lot of memories for me. And, yes, cheese, but I like sharing memories there with my kids, too. The circle! Goes round and round! Or something, I don't know, it's too early to think of proper metaphors. Here's the thing: Where else can you just drive past a giraffe, or have to stop your car because the yaks decided they want to cross the road? Not too many in Oregon, anyway. We don't have a terribly large giraffe OR yak population, which is to say, zero. Plus Johanna is a huge fan of cheetahs. I'm a big fan of youthful enthusiasm.

Afterwards, Mom was all like, mini-trip again next Christmas or do you just want the presents? And we were all, trip!

So that's fairly awesome.

I took about 4,000 photos with my iPod--some of which, yes, ended up on Instagram, I can't help myself--and now the Sorting of the Pictures begins. THAT will be a fun addition to the ol' 2013 scrapbook, I tell you what.**

So in conclusion, I'd just like to say that our Very Minimalist Christmas was a Big Hit. And I'm not sure why it took me so long to pound this post out... the words will do what they will, I guess.

*Relax, people, it's just that with all the celebrating going on, my parents decided long ago to have our gathering on Dec. 23. We just celebrate Christmas for three straight days is all.

**Snapfish. I don't know, it's just what I started using to order prints when we got our first digital camera. If there's another site out there that's awesome-er, I'm open to suggestions. Also: I'm still working on 2011 and 2012 albums. Oopsies.


Kandice said...

Nice! Sounds like you all had fun. What is Almond Roca???

Trisha said...

Almond Roca is heaven in a can: Buttercrunch toffee dipped in chocolate and rolled in crushed almonds. And wrapped in a little gold foil so you feel like you're opening a present.

If you've never experienced this joy, I seriously need to send you a can. It's the best thing ever.