I didn't expect mom and dad to be there until 11 or noon, but when I checked in with my sister on the way, she said, "They supposedly left Jacksonville at 8:30; they'll probably be here any minute."
Shit. I wanted to beat them there, and I felt bad when I got there and they were already there and my mom said, "Yeah, we told Meagan we wanted to get up here a little earlier this year, so we'd have more time with John."
Oh well. It is what is. We did spend some quality time together.
My dad looked better than the last time I saw him, though mom did share that he'd made a comment about going to "Dennis and Terri's" for Christmas, who are his brother and sister-in-law who live in Massachusetts. She also mentioned during the course of the conversation today, while my dad was in the living room and we were in the kitchen, that she thinks maybe he had a small stroke several weeks ago during this time he's been in and out of the hospital.
At any rate, today went well, and other than being weak, he was totally lucid and participated in the conversation and activities no less than he normally does.
My sister set a beautiful table, as usual, and cooked delicious food, also as usual. Some pictorial memories:
Mom and Dad (Great pic of dad!)
The Chef (And my incredible sister!)
My Brother-in-law, Jeff ("Saying" grace!) :-)
(Clockwise, starting at noon, and spiraling in: ham, mashed potatoes, Portuguese rice, corn pudding, Portuguese sausage (Chourico), a Gherkin pickle, a black olive, a slice of Portuguese bread, cranberry sauce, turkey and gravy, and Portuguese dressing.)
Meagan, Chris, and Nicky (my niece, her husband and their kid) never showed up at all. They were supposedly leaving Jacksonville at 8:30, too. At 11:00, when they hadn't arrived, Mom called them and left a voicemail. About ten minutes later, Meagan called back to say she was just getting out of the shower, and that they'd make it "if they could." We were supposed to eat at noon, and they're about 1-1.5 hours away, and they were supposed to be back in Jacksonville, at the beach, by 4:00.
This is the second at least, the third I think really, time that my sister has counted on them in planning and cooking a holiday dinner and they just haven't shown up. I'm going to make no further comment on that. It speaks for itself really.
We exchanged gifts after dinner, while mom and dad watched on, as they absolutely insisted we get them no gifts this year. They had given us each some money to spend on ourselves and then surprise them with what we bought, which has become their tradition now.
Vivian and Jeff bought a beautiful set of towels with some of their money, and they were waiting for some coordinating sheets to go on sale to buy the rest. I'd bought (though I haven't actually purchased it yet) a $125 (ridiculous) frame for my Master's diploma with mine. I just told them that I'd ordered it, but it hadn't come in yet.
I got my sister and her husband a deluxe shredder, which was the only gift on their list to me. They got me three things from my Amazon.com wish list: a wireless mouse (yay, I needed another one), a carbon monoxide and smoke alarm, and a replacement for my falling-apart Sleepmate white-noise sound machine. YAY! They also gave me part of a box of Dale and Thomas' 12-Pack Sampler of various "flavors" of delicious popcorns, not to mention a boatload of leftovers to "re-enjoy" Christmas dinner again with Robert on Saturday.
I gave Vivian and Jeff a gift bag from Robert, with Stiff in it and a box of Trader Joe French Truffles. They gave me a gift bag to take back to Robert.
Back at home, I took a couple-hour nap in anticipation of checking on Trailer Park Prize Night tonight. It was odd, in my mind I was going out all night, but then at about 11:00, I started watching some TED videos, and I ended up just staying in. I kept saying, "I'd better get going," and then, "Why? It's going to be nuts-to-butts in there tonight, which means the smoke will be ridiculous, and that show mostly just gets on my nerves." I settled right down into my leather couch and enjoyed some "intellectsual stimulasion."
I watched these TED videos:
|Building sophisticated educational tools out of cheap parts, Johnny Lee demos his cool Wii Remote hacks, which turn the $40 video game controller into a digital whiteboard (which generally cost in the thousands of dollars), a touchscreen and a head-mounted 3-D viewer.|
|In a lively show, mathemagician Arthur Benjamin races a team of calculators to figure out 3-digit squares, solves another massive mental equation and guesses a few birthdays. How does he do it? He’ll tell you.|
|Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.|
|Tony Robbins discusses the "invisible forces" that motivate everyone's actions—and high-fives Al Gore in the front row.|
|Dan Gilbert presents research and data from his exploration of happiness -- sharing some surprising tests and experiments that you can also try on yourself. Watch through to the end for a sparkling Q&A with some familiar TED faces.|
|Blaise Aguera y Arcas leads a dazzling demo of Photosynth, software that could transform the way we look at digital images. Using still photos culled from the Web, Photosynth builds breathtaking dreamscapes and lets us navigate them.|
|Reporter Jennifer 8. Lee talks about her hunt for the origins of familiar Chinese-American dishes -- exploring the hidden spots where these two cultures have (so tastily) combined to form a new cuisine.|
That last one was arguably the least intellectual of them, but it was very entertaining. Well, it was all about the food, after all. :-)