Thursday: I stayed up all night because I hadn't packed and I had to leave at 5:15 to get to the Blue Line train and take it to O'Hare to be there in time to catch my plane at 7:00. Spent flight in very last row, squeezed between two very large men. Slept, mainly, which luckily staved off complete claustrophobic breakdown. Dad picked me up at the airport and took me home, where I said hello to Mom and the dogs before crashing for about eight hours. Got up and watched the Wild with parents, dogs, and brother, then slept for eight hours more. Cold still annoying.
Friday: Make it to sister's place--she's the only one in the family with an Internet connection--to finish my Christmas presents. Am poor, so make cards with individual stories for parents, uncle, roommate. Also read 300+ email messages and update Project. Back home, watch A Christmas Story and Letterman and Jay Thomas knock meatball off Christmas tree. (We have traditions.) Later, set out bread to dry and watch TV in guest room until eyes fall out. (I have no cable here.)
Saturday: Should probably mention that Mom is insane with the Christmas spirit. Or at least the Christmas decor. My brother said something to the effect that the house looked like Santa threw up in it. To be fair, it's my Dad that puts the electric candles in every window, each with timers; and it's him that strung the big pine tree in the backyard. But the house, particularly the first floor, is drunk on Christmas. Snowmen congregate on the shelves. Christmas mugs and plates appropriate the racks. Christmas villages dot the dining room and family room. Santabears huddle together atop an entertainment unit. In truth, it's all very tasteful, if overwhelming. My mom knows the difference between festive and trashy. But I think it's understandable that we have to tease her incessantly about this. I mean, she has Christmas moose. Moose, plural. I'm just saying. Anyway--it's Christmas Eve. I make the bread pudding for later, and help Mom as much as she'll let me. Dinner is Swedish meatballs with a tomato cream sauce, boiled potatoes, lutefisk (it really isn't so bad as all that), lefse (yummy), strawberry bread brought by my uncle's friend Betty (also yummy), and Jell-O salad (hey, this is Minnesota). We eat and then we go to the church where my dad sings in the choir. (Mass is long.) When we get back we have presents and bread pudding. At midnight we sing Happy Birthday to my dad. The dogs are exhausted. Bedtime.
Sunday: Brunch (more good food) with parents and brother, then lots of sitting around. Do some editing (take that, Anonymous!), read some War and Peace. At dinner (my favorite stuffed chicken thingy, and also-my-favorite broccoli/rice/cheese dish) we celebrate Dad's birthday. My sister and my mother joke that he thinks he's Jesus Christ. (I refrain from joking that he thinks he's Christopher Rowe.) Then there is football. I read about hippos in the Smithsonian, then do some more editing while first the Packers and then the Vikings lose.
Monday: I do very little during the day. In the evening, I make my appearance at the home of the lovely and talented Haddayr. Her boys--Arie, Éiden, husband Jan, and big sweet puppy Frodo--all make me feel welcome in their various ways; Jan by cooking up a tasty Polish meal, Frodo by sniffing all traces of Eddie the Beagle and Grace the Golden Retriever out of my jeans, Éiden by gifting me with magnets off the refrigerator (and his big goofy grin), and Arie by trying very hard to set the mood with lighting and music. We eat and drink wine and tea and talk about life and books and probably you, if you're reading this. (Don't worry, it wasn't bad.) Jan and I bond over Green Arrow and Watchmen and Hüsker Dü, Haddayr and I bond over writing geekery. The two of them tag-team telling stories about--or by--her Dad, which really should be in a book. (Ahem.) Haddayr and Jan are one of those cool couples that make single people think that maybe this marriage thing actually works. Well, at least me. Anyway, I keep them up far too late and go home tired but happy.
Tuesday: Mom and Dad and I go to the MegaMallPlex to see Syriana. (I liked it, even though it wasn't very nuanced. I mean, I have my prejudices against big business and big money and big government, but if you play into those prejudices too much I'm going to take you with a grain of salt. Give your characters some dimensions, how about? Acting-wise, while George Clooney was awesome and Dr. Bashir AKA Alexander Siddig was surprisingly sympathetic, Matt Damon was on autopilot and Christopher Plummer was cartoony. Which, OK, sounds like I didn't like it, but it was actually quite a gut punch that had a few problems.) Later, dinner and flight delays, and a long walk from the train in the rain. But Yay Christmas, Yay Family, and Yay Good Food!