A Party, an Academy, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree (okay, not really).

Hope you had a wonderful holiday. My Saturday and Sunday were delightful. I thought I’d share– I’ll try to be brief…

…So on Saturday, my family threw a party– yep, the day after Christmas. We’ve been doing this for three years now– I’m finally coming to terms with this new tradition and I’m beginning to see it as something that doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. This year, it wasn’t.

See… I’m not a party person.

Not at all.

In fact, I rather dislike parties, whether I’m throwing them or not. I’ll elaborate later, I could post a whole entry on this subject alone.

In the past, it’s been in celebration of primarily two things: my niece’s birthday (Dec. 28th) and sort of a post-or-pre Christmahannukwanzukah holiday catch-all shindig. This year it was more of the latter. My mom didn’t mention any birthdays, but somehow everyone remembered that my niece would be three soon, and brought gifts accordingly.

The house was filled, but not to the point of discomfort (about 25 people total, comprised four different families other than my own). Around seven, some of us younger adults (i.e., “the grown kids”) took most of the older kids out to a movie while our parents (and theirs) stayed at home.  Because the ages were so diverse (and because there were actually two coincidentally synchronous movie-plannings in motion– long story), I and two other older folk (teens) saw “It’s Complicated”, and my younger cousins and some friends saw “The Princess and the Frog”.

We’d tried to see “Avatar”, but despite having arrived twenty minutes before previews started, we couldn’t find three seats together, so we exchanged our tickets. “It’s Complicated” was pretty good– a few laugh out loud moments even. Some parts lagged a little, and at times the dialogue or a character’s response to a situation left me with a cynical brow raised in disbelief, but I’d still recommend it. For a more complete review that parallels with my own feelings, I’d read this one from Slate. I guess I’ll save both “Avatar” and “The Princess and the Frog” for other outings.

Today, we took my eight- and five-year-old cousins, as well as my nearly three-year-old niece, to the California Academy of Sciences! Man, I hadn’t been there in years! Let’s see, how long’s it been… I’m thinking it’s been at least eleven years. Maybe twelve. Since the recent remodeling, though, it’s not the same museum anymore– everything is different, new, rearranged… and to a certain degree, I feel it’s lost its charm.

I know the changes had to happen– the old buildings weren’t built to modern code and were damaged in the ’89 Loma Prieta quake. I know it was necessary, and a good thing. Seismic retrofits are always a good thing. But I miss a lot about the old museum.

I miss the weathered, historical feeling of the old building. I miss feeling the age of the exhibits, feeling the blackness and blue hue of the Steinhart Aquarium… the long, long hallway of animal dioramas in the African Hall (it’s much shorter now)… glass tanks, white tile… the highest ceilings I’d ever encountered as a child… the earthquake simulation… I miss how much easier it was to find your way around (everything felt really cluttered in the new building), and being free to see any exhibit without necessarily having to pay for another separate ticket (as far as I know, anyway. The show presented in the Morrison Planetarium, while definitely a beautiful experience, required another fee, another pass).

In other words, I feel like a part of my childhood’s kind of gone.

But listen to me, being this huge downer– go to the museum! Whatever museum you have nearby! It’s educational. It’s worth it. Go expose a kid, or yourself, to all that wonder.

I was also going to post about my writing (since that’s kind of supposed to be one of my most important topics… ha) but I’ll save that for New Year’s Eve. See you Thursday…

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