the friday after thanksgiving has become mini-christmas due to time and distance and travel and budgets. dad and melissa take me and chad to a store called media play and encourage us to pick something out for ourselves. we haven’t had a problem with this process; it’s actually something we look forward to, since we love books, music, movies, and toys, and that’s pretty much what the store is about.
this year was different. i felt a little tug at my heart when dad noticed i didn’t have anything in my hands and mentioned, “so, i guess the shine has worn off this place, huh?” it’s pretty important to my dad to give me something for christmas i really want, and i couldn’t think of anything.
or rather, he had already given it to me when he sent us the tickets to be here for thanksgiving.
another change. chad and i have grown a little in this area, which is not to say that wanting material things for christmas is bad: it’s not. there’s just been a small shift in what we perceive as gifts, and it cheered me up so much, although why i was down about this subject to begin with i’m unsure.
the irony is we did get gifts after all. melissa was on the prowl for a palm m100, and so we looked for them all day, finally finding one at a generic office-supply chain, which also carried the palm portable keyboard, something i mentioned as an add-on that melissa could get later (which i also wanted for myself, someday). we were also pleasantly surprised that a game chad wanted was also in the store. it’s so rare that he is surprised like this anymore, working at lucasarts; he tends to know when everything is coming out months before it does. so we all got presents we really wanted, and dad was so happy to be able to give them to us.
that night, we had the traditional thanksgiving lasagne at gramma’s with uncle mike and aunt kathy. melissa made it and brought it specifically because it’s chad’s favorite food, and it was very good. afterwards we played a game called “sequence”, and the girls whomped the boys every time. typical!
saturday the whole family was reunited in gambling. that’s right, we ventured into downtown detroit to the mgm grand casino. i had never been to a casino before, so i was pretty excited when the family unanimously voted yes for the suggestion. first of all, i should mention that as the weekend wore on, any trip out of the house was welcome because gramma smokes a pack of cigarettes a day and the whole house reeks of it. i’ve only been an ex-smoker for a little less than a year, but even so the secondhand smoke was affecting me adversely, not to mention the stench it left in all our clothing.
well, the casino is just like gramma’s house, only much louder and larger and filled with people who look tired, bored, and unhappy, losing their entire paychecks to the promise of big money, which will of course make them awake, excited, and happy. or maybe it’ll just make them gamble more. and smoke. god, the smoke.
no, i didn’t like the casino very much, although i had a pretty good time, but that comes from wandering aimlessly in unfamiliar territory with chad. we just crack each other up constantly. it was hard not to laugh at ourselves and each other when we sucked so hard at the slots. we couldn’t even approach the tables because their starting bets were all $15 and we each only had a $20, bestowed by my dad, “don’t spend it all in one place,” laughing. i did make an honest attempt at the slots labeled “wheel to wheels” because they promised a chance at winning a brand new pt cruiser.
(i didn’t win, by the way. i did, however, see many pt cruisers over the weekend, and i squealed like a pig when i saw a navy blue pt cruiser done up like a woody.)
my cousin stopped sulking finally when he won $120 on video poker. he downright cheered up when we went to my uncle’s house for chinese food and charades, the latter much better than the former.
playing charades, in my family, is just another holiday tradition. everyone sits around and thinks up impossible clues and then we spend the next hour hyperventilating with laughter. my dad is the funniest to watch, though. he tries, very hard, but something always foils him, making him stand there and shake with laughter as my uncle screams, “dammit, don’t just stand there!” which just makes him (and us) laugh harder. it’s a trip. someday i’ll figure out how to record a family charades session so i can play it back when i’m feeling down.
we cooled down with a round of “balderdash” which reminded me painfully of my grampa, this being only the second thanksgiving without him. folks started getting tired immediately after that, so we said our goodbyes and returned to gramma’s.
it was hard to imagine as we got ready for bed saturday night that our holiday was drawing so soon to a close … (to be continued)