Well, my 53rd Christmas has come and gone.  I’m far from a religious person, but Christmas is special to me for a long list of reasons and non-reasons that go back to how magical my parents made it for my sister and me.  I am positive this will always be my favorite time of the year.  Here’s a picture of our living room as Christmas arrived, with only some of the presents that my incredible wife has been buying for all the “kids” since July.  “Kids” gets quote marks now because the youngest is 23.  We got to spend it this year with all of them: our five kids, three spouses, 1 fiance, and our first grandson Teddy.  Our first granddaughter is due in March, so next Christmas will be even more fun.

I’m writing this on New Year’s Day.  One of the ongoing controversies in our family in when exactly Christmas should begin and end.  We have a rule that I am allowed to whistle (NO SINGING) Christmas songs starting the day after Halloween, and listen to Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving.  Less settled is the question of when the decorations should be taken down.  Much as I love everything about the season, when it’s done I’m ready to move on, so I like to have everything down before the New Year starts.  Hence, my last two days have been a depressing removal of all the decorations.  But it’s done now, and Oregon just beat slaughtered Florida State for the chance to face Ohio State in the first-ever real BCS National Championship game!

Photo-wise, this is a 5 shot bracket that I HDR’d the living hell out of.  I’m pretty sure this is the only time I’ve ever decided the Photomatix “painterly” preset was the right choice.  Clearly, realistic was not the way to go here, and I liked the overall look.   Tech details: Nikon D810, Nikkor 16-35mm lens @ 16mm. f/8.0, exposures between 0.25sec and 4 sec.  Processing used Photomatix with a little distortion correction, clarity, vibrance, and sharpening in Lightroom.