Sunday, December 18, 2005

and it's the holidays...

it's been a whirlwind of activity over the past few days. the chinese gift exchange was popular, as always, and we got some great group photos that i hope to get my hands on eventually (my digital camera has finally died--the thumbtack that is currently the shutter button has decided to stop working--so i'm waiting until christmas day for my new one). the gift i brought was the simpsons version of "operation" and everyone was amused as they watched me play and scare myself (yes, i'm that jumpy) and then patrice put on her referee's jersey that she ended up with and decided to be the line referee for the operation game and yelled at me while i was playing and there was much laughing and fast-paced heart beating that followed.

friday was pure chaos at work. parties in all of the rooms, the 9th graders had video games set up on a big projection screen and after all the students left, the teachers had a catered lunch. i'll still get to see my coworkers on monday night, but it will be different to go 2 weeks without seeing my students. that afternoon, justin and i headed to fayetteville where we celebrated my grandma's 75th birthday with the rest of the family. lunch with everyone on saturday, where we had thrilling conversations with my cousins about why buffalo wings are made of chicken, not buffalo, and why if justin had an elephant, he'd name it cletus (never a dull moment with this group). we had some dessert back at my grandma's, and then justin and i headed off to celebrate our anniversary with my present-- a trip to new bern and the candlelight christmas celebration at tryon palace.

sometime last spring, we came up with a list of places we wanted to visit this year. the list included busch gardens, cedar point, the biltmore house, and tryon palace. we had hit almost all of those places during the year, except for tryon, and when i did some research and found out about their candlelight tours at christmas time, i decided it would make the perfect anniversary excursion for us.
we got to new bern and headed straight to the palace, which is only a few blocks away from the historic downtown area where we're gone before when visiting new bern. bought our tickets, walked through the wrought iron gates and entered 1770 where governor tryon was hosting a party for the king's birthday and the grand opening of the palace. the whole experience included various performances by choirs, brass and wind quartets, a juggler and lots of townspeople who walked around in period dress and played different characters. we got in the line to see the palace about 6:45 (right before a big tour bus unloaded) and waited for about 30-45 minutes in a cold, drizzling rain before we got in. the tour itself was entertaining, though not exactly informative, and it did seem smaller when the last historical home i saw was the biltmore estate. we finished up right before 8 and decided to drive downtown to find some dinner before the fireworks at 9. we found this great greek restaurant where i had eaten during my internship back in the spring and enjoyed plates of gyro and souvlaki. back to the palace where at 9, we were treated with a "grand display of illuminations" and then headed back to greenville.

before the night was over, justin gave me his anniversary present--a book that he had made and had published by apple using lots of photoshop pictures, ticket stubs, logos, maps and even a little iPod on each page with a song we listened to a lot during that time. the detail that went into documenting our past year together was amazing, and he managed to capture lots of individual memories, quotes, conversations, and trips through this visual display. he has an incredible memory and can recall the smallest details, and it definitely showed up in this gift. one of his big things with giving presents is that he would always rather find the perfect, personalized gift than to give something generic or a gift certificate. like my birthday earlier this year (with the photo poster, and only 2 months dating each other!) he found the most amazing way to surprise me and show me exactly how he feels.

and today, a year ago from when we first met at starbucks and sat outside talking for two hours, not even going inside to get a drink--he bought me that long-due cup of coffee. happy anniversary, sweetheart. here's to many, many more :)

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