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Pop-OP: The joys of the holiday season

I am wrapped up this year with a first… The first time I have ever celebrated Christmas with a boyfriend!

The joys of the holiday season take on a whole new meaning though, when you’ve got the added pressure of finding the perfect Christmas gifts, especially when you are shopping for a guy who seems to have everything! I had to remind myself it's not the size of the package; it's the thought that counts, right?
Only in Los Angeles
"Hunky Santa" at The Beverly Center is a nine-year-old tradition in Los Angeles and this is not your ordinary Santa. This year it is fitness model James Ellis and if you have never seen him… do a google image search or look him up on Facebook. My friends Chris, Geoff and I went down to get our pictures taken with Santa and of course I immediately sent the picture to Nick…
“Should I be jealous?” he replied via text.
“Of course not, babe,” I quickly responded. “I’ve been very good this year and I asked him for round trip tickets to Chicago and lots of bonus frequent flier miles!”
Does someone need a meeting with HR?
Considering I work for a studio that everyone thinks is super conservative, it’s pretty surprising how laid back things are around the office. However, my boss does manage to raise the bar on what is inappropriate on a regular basis, so I shouldn’t have been shocked when she decided to give me a holiday gift suggestion…

“You know what you should do,” she said turning to look at me. “You should show up at his door wearing only a very strategically placed bow!”
“It was 18 degrees in Chicago today, I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” I quickly replied, trying to emphasize how bad an idea this conversation was on so many levels.
“It will only be for a minute, until he opens the door,” she insisted.
To which I pointed out, “At that temperature, it wouldn’t be a very big bow!”
The heat is on
Packing for Chicago has become an adventure for me, especially when I get word from Nick that with the wind chill it is 18 degree below! So for a weekend trip I ended up with a big suitcase; but in my defense, I will say that it also contained a number of Christmas presents that would not be making the return trip with me.

Once I was settled into my seat on the plane, I sent Nick a quick text to let him know I was about to get on my way when he gave me a weather update, “Good news babe, it’s warming up. It’s supposed to be 25 here today!”
“25 is not warmer, nothing that is below freezing should ever be considered warmer,” I quickly replied. “My braving the weather should be your Christmas gift!”
It’s the thought that counts
The first order of business when I got to Chicago was fixing up some mulled apple cider (with plenty of rum, of course) and decorating our first Christmas tree together. However, before we could start hanging ornaments Nick insisted we put on our pajamas. Being the dork I am, the day after Thanksgiving I had found an adult Transformers pajama bottoms and t-shirt set that I had packed just for this particular occasion. When I emerged from the bedroom, Nick’s jaw dropped…
Shaking his head, he marched over to the tree, pulled a gift out from under it and threw it into the bedroom saying, “So much for that gift!”
“Oh babe! It’s the thought that counts,” I said, realizing that I had found an awesome guy who had GREAT taste in gifts.
Family photo
As unconventional as our long distance relationship may be, Nick wanted to take the most traditional Christmas photo I can imagine… he and I in our pajamas, under the Christmas tree, with the kids (or in this case, his dogs Christian and Riley). Being the happy new couple that we are, the photo was uploaded to Facebook immediately and set as our respective profile pictures!
Of course the comments rolled in and my buddy Rik (who had just moved to LA to live with his boyfriend Kaden) insisted, “Do NOT ever make fun of wedded bliss pictures of Kaden and me again! So who's renting the U-haul?”
A picture perfect gift
With Nick’s quick jump at taking the snapshot of he and I under the Christmas Tree, I knew I had struck the jackpot with my favorite gift I had gotten him. Originally I had planned on blowing up and framing photos, but I realized that I couldn’t possibly narrow down the photos we had taken together since we met… so I found a digital photo frame that holds 4,000 photos and music that I could load with all of our pictures. Also knowing that I am the tech-savvy one in our relationship, I knew Nick would need me to update the photos, and I call that relationship security!
Of course I had preloaded it with all of our pictures and put our favorite song on it, so that when he plugged it in, expecting to need me to set it up, the frame came to life and started playing a slide show to our song….
And we stood there, slow dancing in his living room, in our pajamas, while our song and our memories played out for us.
Wrapping it up…
It sounds silly that I was making such a big deal out of Christmas… but in the three years since my dad passed away, my mom and I haven’t celebrated Christmas (Dad’s birthday was just a few days before Christmas, you see) and it’s been a while since I have had the traditional Christmas with a tree and gifts and the magic associated with it. So now that I had someone new in my life to share the holiday with, I wanted everything to be perfect. The best part is.....it was.

This year, it really was the thought that counts and we found gifts that were special to each other. It takes an amazing boyfriend to buy me a collectable Transformers statue (that he knows is going to be on display in our house one day). The thing is, of all the gifts I got from Nick this year, there is one that he couldn’t wrap up and put a bow on. It was the gift of having Christmas back…