Tuesday, December 23.
I raced home to the apartment at 4:30 pm with a special issue of QST under my arm.
My boss let me leave work earlier than normal after I completed the 2000+ spreadsheet that I had been compiling and editing the past four whole days. I checked at the front desk to see if there happened to be any mail... A friend had sent a free-matter box of braille a week and a half ago, but it still hadn't arrived. I was hoping it would be there, or else it would be sitting in the mail room for quite a while. And there it was! I took it under one arm, piled the rest of the mail and the QST on top.
Arriving back at the room, I quickly unloaded my things from work and gathered my things for break. Once in order, I sat down on the sofa to open up the braille box. The poor thing was smashed in, untaped and retaped, and in quite sorrowful shape. The braille inside was safe and sound, though. I took one of the specially bound journals and packed it with my things for PA. Just about then, my family called to say that they were arriving.
My brother got quite a welcome from the new 10th floor apartment. When he went to peek out the blinds, he got a shock of blue static lightning. He was eager to get going as soon as possible!
We hit the road and arrived home late that evening after waiting in traffic for hours. Dad was up to greet us in the kitchen, which surprised me because he had just gotten back from the hospital that morning. He was in for two days as they tested him and then performed gallbladder surgery. It was a good thing that I was working on the monotonous spreadsheet all day Monday because I was quite distracted as I waited for news from home.
Well, he looked pretty good for just coming out of surgery a day ago! We didn't stay up too late that night, as we were all tired. But we did stay up long enough to watch a news clip dad had recorded over a treasured episode of Columbo. Water main break in Bethesda, MD. That was a little too close to home for comfort! No wonder it took us so long to get home.
Wednesday, December 24. Christmas Eve.
Christmas Eve was a busy day. We had to prepare for Christmas and pull together the last of the details for the Christmas Eve service for dad, who couldn't perform it this year. I did sleep in though. And after getting cleaned up and ready for the day, I found myself sitting in the living room in my slippers. I had forgotten to pack socks... My mom laughed and handed me a present from my stocking. New socks!! :) I proceeded to put on a pair immediately.
The Christmas Eve service went very well. My brother had a role in nearly every part of the service, and I had a few myself! We lit the candles down the aisle, each read a passage, passed the light during the candlelight portion, and helped prepare communion. There was a special solo song and a choir song and both were beautiful. The passages were an interesting mixture of accounts of the Christmas birth, the prophecies which foretold it, and the significance of the coming King. We ended with Joy to the World and a hearty smile. As with every Christmas Eve service, many tasty cookies and chocolates awaited us at the end. We gathered these up and headed home after finishing off the last of the communion bread. That scali bread sure was good. And it was a good thing that mom had brought grape juice, because the juice we had downstairs was a frozen block in the freezer!
Dad again met us at home, eager to hear how the service went. We sat around the kitchen table talking about it and testing out the cookies. That is our late night Christmas Eve custom. By then, it was midnight and time to sleep, even though Willy Wonka had just welcomed the kids to his chocolate factory on TV.
Thursday, December 25. Christmas Day.
Morning rolled around and time for Christmas presents! This year I got a lot of really nice things. My brother got me a really nice set of headphones. I am enjoying them now, as a matter of fact :) My parents got me a digital camera. I never had one before, so I am really excited! I also got a really nice amethyst stone and a book I had requested, among many other wonderful things. Matt got a hockey jersey and he looks pretty sharp in it! It's always such a thrill to tear into those neatly wrapped and shining presents to see what surprises await inside.
After we finished with gifts, it was time for lunch. Ham, baked potatoes, homegrown corn, rolls, cranberry sauce, and watergate salad. Of course cookies and a demo of the Perkins brailler for dessert. By then, it was three o'clock and time for a nap. Gram and pap returned to their daughter's house for a celebration and the rest of us fell asleep on the various sofas and chairs in the living room.
The rest of the vacation was a mixture of home-cooked food, visits from family, sleeping in every morning, staying up late every evening to watch either Lawrence of Arabia, the game between Flyers and Canucks, A Christmas Carol, or football highlights. Also blended in were a conference call for me, a visit for Matt to his next co-op, a funeral, dinner out at Applebee's for a cowboy burger, a trip to the mall to pick up a dictionary for braille transcription, Sunday worship at the church with dad leading the service, hockey games on the computer (but without the controller), reading a long paper on Orientation and Mobility instruction for the blind, a surprise check-in to my hometown EmComm net, visiting a ham friend to talk about RIT (the school, not receiver tuning), writing braille, trying to keep my email inbox under control, a hair cut, and many fun times with family.
Wednesday, December 31. New Year's Eve.
We spent New Year's Eve at my grandparents' house in Newky. We started with a feast! There were hot dogs, oranges, apples, fresh pineapple, grapes, cheese, deviled/pickled eggs, chips, hard lemonade, shrimp, and s'mores. What a party! We played a long game of dominoes and then celebrated my birthday because I won't be home for my birthday later in January. I got a really neat book about the first American blind-deaf woman to be educated and a really pretty necklace from the Christmas show in Harrisburg, PA. What a nice birthday. We watched the ball drop in NYC and then we all crashed in bed at 1:00 am.
Thursday, January 1. New Year's Day.
Day of the Rose Parade. We spent it on the road and then at my grandparent's house in Gettysburg. Another feast! This time, pork and sauerkraut, the traditional PA meal. We also had filling, mashed potatoes, corn, bread with applebutter, and watergate cake. It was all delicious. We then played some cards while chatting, laughing at the two dogs, and enjoying the warm company. There was also an exchange of Christmas gifts, and before I knew it, I was crawling back into the car to return to Maryland.
Tomorrow I have work and have to get up early. I had better get to bed before it gets too late!
Happy New Year, everyone!