I am fortunate enough to be at my ancestral home, celebrating the holiday with my family. We held to a long-standing tradition, in that no gifts would be opened until after the hands of the clock passed noon. My father always works a twelve-hour overtime shift on Christmas Day. But this year, it wasn't only him that we waited on...my brother and his fiancé were tardy as well. In fact, our feast of the Nativity was prepared and being served out as they pulled up. They joined in progress, all was well. After the meal, we could finally open presents. My family combined on my gifts, as they usually do. There was a gift card to Wal-Mart in the unusual amount of 109 American dollars. This was augmented by the other thing they got me - a GPS navigation system! Specifically, a Garmin nüvi 780. Initially, I greeted this with a cool reception. I am usually a fan of laying in a course using a old-school atlas, sometimes augmented by Google Maps. But once I "op-tested" it, I really warmed up to it. The appropriate analogy is "paper atlas : Garmin :: Los-Angeles-class submarine course plotting : Starship Enterprise-D navigation computer." That thing is especially good at predicting when I'll arrive at a particular destination. I expect, as my family did, that it'll come in very handy as I make my way around the continental United States on the Post-Navy Roadtrip. Aside from those, my brother was kind enough to hook me up with twelve doses of Vitamin Y, and I also got a "Thunder Maker" contraption from our friends in Ohio.
As for the other direction, I got my brother the electric mandolin he was jonesing for, and his bride-to-be received a Stop & Shop gift card. Dad got The 500 World's Greatest Golf Holes, and the latest John Pizzarelli CD. Not bad for walking into Borders with no idea of what to get for him. Mom got Navy PT gear (I don't know why, but she loves it), and stringless shoes. All told, well done all around by me - considering I really only had six days to pull it all together.
Another good Christmas...I mean, come on, is there such a thing as a bad one? Yeah, actually, there is - the one you spend on duty, which for me was 2005. I was home two days later, and it wasn't completely unexpected because I was most nubly, but it sucked nonetheless. Of course, that means that for my enlistment, I did go 5/6 = .833 on being home for this holiday, which is pretty darned good, and better than Thanksgiving (for which I batted .500). And it winds down with downing of Yuengling, the sounds of A Fine Frenzy, the inauguration and posting of a dedicated "Countdown to Freedom from the Forces of Stupidity and Brain Rot", and a smile on this Sailor's face. Merry Christmas, everybody!