Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

In the end we were an hour and a half late getting away from Gatwick and I think that time tipped the flight into the interminable range. The gap between onboard meals didn’t help either. After eight hours of fasting, a small chicken roll and a 3cm square of fruitcake isn’t enough to satisfy me.

Unusually the standard US welcoming formalities (standing in line for an hour to be photographed and fingerprinted by Immigration) didn’t piss me off and once I had been processed by the bureaucracy, we were straight through to pick the luggage and out to meet Ali and his son Jesse, who had come to collect us.

The moon had only just risen as we drove across Dallas and it was massive in the sky. I wished I had taken my camera as carry-on baggage, rather than leaving it buried in my suitcase where it would have been a real hassle to get out.

Back at the ranch Donna was cooking up spaghetti and not long after we arrived, most of the rest of the family showed up to welcome us. After dinner we played board games until people were ready to head home. I think the napping on the plane helped me avoid dozing off too early in the evening and in the end we lasted until around 10pm before turning in for the night.

Christmas Eve started early for me; jetlag had me awake around 4am so I lazed and read a while until we headed out for breakfast with Brett’s dad to the nearby Waffle House. Jim likes the venue and since it’s open (I think) 24-hours a day, it’s the ideal spot for us to get breakfast when we’re up really early.

Brett and I took the festive turkey over to Susan’s house late morning and then went on to some of the nearby malls to do some shopping. We were surprised by how un-busy it was for Christmas Eve but weren’t going to complain. In the end I bought a couple of new suits, shirts and ties, a couple of pairs of jeans (I mean, at £12 for a pair of Levi 501’s, how could I not?? They’re £40-60 in the UK!) and some new chinos. Brett was looking for stuff too but didn’t find what he was after.

Around 6pm we headed back to Susan’s house for the Christmas dinner and present opening. The whole family was there and a substantial amount of food was laid on. After eating, the family gathered in the den to open the Christmas presents arrayed before the tree. There followed the inevitable chaos as the younger nephews and nieces set to. Carter and Joey both received Transformers toys which can be changed from being a rifle which shoots foam darts into either a plane or a truck. The two of them spent the rest of the evening constantly changing them back and forth; there was no game-play with the toys in either configuration (apart from occasional shooting of darts at people) the joy of the toy seemed to be in changing it from one configuration into the other. And this they did, with gusto.

My recollection of the end of the evening is vague; I think I began to nod-off before 10pm.

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