We do not, however, have a particular traditional Christmas meal. When I was a child and we had company over, we'd usually have ham just because you could still serve it if the power went out and you couldn't heat it up. This year, we had homemade clam chowder. I vote we make this our traditional dinner in future.
I got stuff! Lots of it! Mom got me not only a hand-crankable flashlight, but also a hand-crankable radio than can also work as a cell-phone charger. (Can you tell that, for a while, our family lived somewhere with frequent power outages, and that this has made a particular imprint on my mother?) These definitely fall under the category of "things I'd be grateful to have in an emergency, always assuming I can remember where I put them when I'm busy dealing with an emergency of some kind". I'll have to see if I can stick them in the hall closet somewhere or something when I get home. She also got me some cds (mostly Gordon Lightfoot), a stuffed dog, and a thermometer for my apartment.
Grammy got me three books that I'd asked for specifically. She likes to get me books, and I always have to think of books that it won't upset her that I want to read, which has sometimes backfired when I knew the author and title but not whether or not that specific book was, say, "erotic horror" or "young adult fantasy" (thanks, Tanith Lee, for being so versatile!) and she gets sent to a section of the store of which she was previously unaware. This year it went well, since I'd given it a bit of thought and asked for a Tanith Lee book (Piratica) that I'd seen on display in the library at the middle school I was at in the fall rather than just one from a list of works by her that I hadn't read yet, an Elizabeth Moon book (The Speed of Dark) that I'd read the cover for at least 3 times but not gotten around to buying and a book with Sudoku puzzles in it (if she ended up finding a porny one of those, it would just not be my fault, but fortunately this did not happen) which I mostly wanted to use as handouts for students who get done with what they're supposed to be doing early (I've found that most kids who finish math work quickly also happen to be kids who like those puzzles). She also gave me $50, which I thought she only did when she didn't know what else to get someone, but I guess she didn't feel that the books were enough by themselves.
Tom got me...a bunch of random tools. By "random tools" I mean that he got me, for example, a set of drill bits but no drill. I'm pretty sure that he'd just cleaned out the duplicates of his tool collection. This is fine with me, since I do need tools, but it was kind of weird to get all wrapped up for Christmas rather than just in a pile when I'm at their house at some point. To be fair, he also gave me $100 in cash, with which I could presumably buy a drill if I didn't live someplace where they'd really frown on me drilling holes in things, and I think the tools were just an afterthought with the money as the main gift. I've been toying with buying a Gamecube, a GBA or two, and a copy of Zelda 4 Swords, and I think with the Christmas money this year and some I have squirreled away from last year I can do so if the game's still in print and reasonably easy to find (I haven't given this much thought lately). If not, I might buy some nice DDR pads or something.
Kellie, who I drove myself nuts trying to find a Meaningful Gift for this year (I eventually got her a t-shirt from the local pub that mom picked out), got me a $20 Target giftcard. If I'd known we were back to just giving each other $20 in a card sooner (this is what we always used to do, but at some point it escalated into actual presents), it would have made my December much less stressful. I plan to continue this newly promising trend with her next year. Having to buy gifts for a stepsister that I have seen less than ten times in my life and don't really know very well is always one of the more obnoxious parts of the season for me since I don't really know her taste and have never even seen where she lives (plus, I usually forget about her entirely until mom reminds me, since she won't be at the actual celebration so I have to kick into the Christmas spirit early enough to get something mailed).
Dad got me that big Calvin and Hobbes collection, a Furby (they made new ones that don't seem to have the IR port in their foreheads and apparently they're "in" again), and a nice set of knives, which I really needed. I now have steak knives! And a bread knife! As someone who can occasionally afford to buy a steak and even more occasionally find time to bake bread, this should be a help in the kitchen. I was getting pretty sick of improvising with the few knives I had, but if I spent the money to buy a good set of steak knives I would no longer have money in the budget for steak anyway.
I got kind of lame gifts for people this year, because I just didn't feel much like shopping. I got Mom a blue sweater (we have very similar taste in clothes within certain parameters, so it's easy for me to buy her things she'll like), Grammy a stuffed dog and cookies, Tom a set of wine glasses ((M|T)om don't have a set of cheap, everyday wine glasses than can be put in the dishwasher, just a few nice ones, and he's taken to drinking a daily glass of red wine so it seemed like a gap to fill), and Dad a brown throw blanket since he owned no such thing and keeps his house really cold. (Brown is his favorite color and all of his living room furniture is brown.)
After opening presents at mom's but before going to dad's, we played Trivial Pursuit. Kellie had gotten Grammy Phase 10, so we were going to play that, but it looked like it was probably a fairly complicated strategy game, and Grammy isn't very good at those (she has a hard time playing Skip-Bo in a suitably strategic manner) so we played Trivial Pursuit instead (as it involves little strategy and has straightforward choices for each move, yet isn't obnoxious like most games without long-range strategic planning elements). My subject title comes from a question that mom misread. The question was supposed to be "How many stripes are in the Adidas logo?", but mom couldn't figure out how to pronounce "Adidas" and it somehow came out "How many stripes are on a duck?" which is a very confusing sort of Sports and Leisure question.
My family is crazy, but mostly in a good way. When I asked if she had a "loot bag" that I could use to take my presents home in, she got very confused thought I was asking for a "lute bag", as well. That was actually pretty funny, because she got very puzzled as to both why I would assume that she had such a thing and why I would suddenly want one, since I don't own a lute (although I would like one someday) and it's not a particularly useful shape to carry other objects in. Plus, that would probably be more of a "case" than a "bag".
So anyway, Merry Christmas to those who want it, and generically pleasant wishes to those for whom that is their preference.
Tomorrow, Dad and I open stockings, and I go to a lunch with some of my mother's relatives. Then, any number of things might happen. I might get to see my childhood friend Jeremy, which my mother has been trying to set up with his mother for about a week now but which remains quite vague. I might bother Sean's family with cookies, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea for several reasons. I might just come back to Dad's house and read my new books and enjoy having some time alone (he is going to his girlfriend's place for the day). I suppose I could find other people to bother with cookies, too, but it's kind of awkward to barge in on people's Christmas and all. I will probably just plow through all of my new books, since I won't have a lot of time for that once the new quarter starts.
I also need to get serious about a costume for the New Year's party I'm going to (it comes down to me either needing to find a brown fedora and a bullwhip or a miniskirt, neon tights, and my electric razor, and I'm genuinely not sure which will be less of a pain to dig up in my pile of stuff and/or borrow and/or buy/make anew). Also, does anyone remember what kind of shoes women wore in the 80's? I'm drawing a complete blank. I suppose I could work on that tomorrow, too.