Christmas began for us on Christmas Eve day when Mom bought herself a new HP laptop as a gift. She loves it, and so does Mandy especially (a few words here: webcam and self-portraits should give you the picture). Later that afternoon, we went over to Uncle Josh's house for the clan gathering with Grandma Linda. We first enjoyed various appetizers and the like for supper, and then afterwards we went to the basement for something new: singing. Uncle Josh had printed out some sheets for Christmas songs like "O Christmas Tree," "Silent Night," and "Jingle Bells," so we all gathered around Hannah, who played the piano, and Noah, who played the violin, while we sang. We sounded good, and Uncle Josh even offered us a rare look at his bass version of "O Holy Night." After singing, we went back upstairs and opened presents. I don't remember everything we got, but I do know that Seth got a tie and a shirt (he wore them on Sunday and looked rather sharp) as well as a sweater, Mandy got a purse, a shirt, and a makeup kit, while I got a purple shawl, some black gloves, some earrings, headphones for my MP3 (which fit my ears beautifully), and a makeup kit. After opening presents, the adults and older kids participated in the white elephant gift exchange. This year included a Joel Osteen video, a dial-up modem, moon pies, a train set, my old college textbooks that I couldn't sell, a snuggie (which we got and which is really, really warm), a book on beer dieting (which ironically I ended up getting), vienna sausage, and stuff like that. After that, we settled around to pass the rest of the evening with conversation and grazing off of the food table. Things turned interesting when Noah brought out his violin and played some tunes while we had a bit of a hoe down in the living room. I captured some videos of the event, but I've yet to upload them or the pictures, which I shall try to remedy at some point. All in all, a wonderful evening.
Christmas morning. Mom woke up first to start making the bacon for the quiche, which woke up Mandy who took great delight in forcing Seth and me out of our beds. Ironic that 11 AM is her normal wake-up hour on vacation but Christmas morning she wakes up at 7 AM; there's something perverse about that. Anyway, so we got up and ate some leftover sausage to tide us over until breakfast, then we opened presents. Dad got a beer magazine, some tobacco, a new lighter, a sweater, and a sleeveless coat. Mom got a package of lambaic (a sour beer made of fruit), a new cutting board, a new collander (which we all love using much better than the old one), and a new purse. Seth got new headphones, a new MP3, new shirts, a set of keys, and a new book for his drawings. Mandy got a UGA sweater, matching hat and gloves, a set of keys, a few keychains, and a notebook. I got a durable notebook with the Celtic scroll design on it that I'm still finding a use for, a gift card to Cato (which I spent on two shirts yesterday), a cute outfit from Cato, two keychains, earrings, a portable hard drive (there's a story behind it that I won't tell now) and a book called "Dead Men's Secrets" (which I read in two days). After opening presents, we ate breakfast and watched "Joyeux Noel", a foreign film about the Christmas ceasefire during World War 1 (very touching movie. See the Ramblings blog for a more detailed review). The Greers invited us over for lunch, and we enjoyed ourselves with talking, good food, and a tense game (forgot the name) between Seth and Caleb. After spending the afternoon there, Mandy stayed to spend the night while the rest of us went home.
On the 26th, we went to Grandpa Mike's house for the clan gathering there. There was the usual feast and the grazing and conversation. In the basement, the kids played video games. Noah, Mandy, Seth, and a non-blood relative played a multi-player Mario game; their commentary of "hey, leave me a penguin suit!" "hey, come here, Alex, and I'll throw you in the lava" "press A! No, you cowards!" "Mandy, you're going to debtors' prison for losing that many lives" was half the fun while I focused on a tetris game. We stayed there for a few hours then went home.
On the 27th (Sunday) we had the Bowman family over for lunch. This is a large family of 11 people, but we managed to fit around two tables. Mom made beef stroganoff, salad, rolls, lemon cheesecake, and a chocolate torte for the meal, and everyone seemed to like it. After lunch, we kids (both older and younger) went outside to play frisbee then later went on a little walk. We were all tired afterwards, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.
And that's what our Christmas was: busy yet fun. Lord willing, we're driving to Florida on Friday to visit Grandpa Large for a few days (and I'm hoping this cough goes away before then), and then we'll have one more week before we get back into our normal schedules. Well, mostly normal. I'm not going to college next semester, and I'm waiting to go back next fall. In the meantime, I'm hoping to find a job (I turned in several applications today for various places) to keep me busy.
I'll try to upload pictures of Christmas soon, if I can snag Seth's computer. In the meantime, I should get to bed and hope I sleep better tonight.