What a difference a year makes. Last year, I waited until Christmas day to drive to my east Texas hometown for family Christmas festivities. After having spent Thanksgiving in a hotel, I had decided that I couldn't stand to wake up alone in a hotel on Christmas morning. This year, I didn't have any misgivings about hotel holidays. I spent 3 nights here at Thanksgiving, and I'm staying 4 this week.
I left yesterday about 2:30p.m.--several hours later than I had initially planned to leave. I always leave packing to the last minute for my trips to east Texas. It's not like I really have to think about what to bring. There's no fancy places to go here, and my family has fairly low expectations for holiday dress. When I stopped for gas an hour outside of Houston, I was quite astounded to realize that I had forgotten to pack panties. Of course, I didn't panic--Walmart is ubiquitous after all. Still, it was rather odd that I would pack bras and socks but no panties. I'm sure there's something freudian in the forgetting, but I won't waste time analyzing it. I just thought it was terribly funny, too funny to keep to myself. One problem with traveling solo is that you don't have anyone to laugh with you at yourself in situations like this.
Since I arrived here, I have been to the mall, Target twice, and Walmart three times, and I had done all my shopping before I arrived here. I don't know if I just have had good timing or the crowds around here aren't that bad, but I never had to wait in line for long and didn't have to push and/or shove anyone out of my way.
Tonight, my sister and I had a nice quiet dinner in one of the only two non-fast food restaurants open after 6:00. Her teenage daughter was at home with a friend, and her teenage son was doing last minute shopping with my sister's man. She's been working two jobs this holiday season, one in a factory and one in a retail store, and she needed a break tonight. So after dinner, she came back to the hotel with me, ostensibly to use my computer and to wait for her man and her son to pick her up after they finished their shopping. Once we got into the room, she decided that she was going to take a hot bubble bath, which she did using hotel shampoo for the bubble element. Then she laid on my bed and dozed while I watched television and played computer games. She might still be here sleeping if her cell phone hadn't rung. I started not to tell her that it was ringing, but I didn't want to be the cause of any unnecessary stress for her.
I feel kind of bad because she left here over two hours ago to go home and do some holiday cooking while I sit here, relaxing, chatting, and blogging. One of the perks of traveling solo for the holidays is that no one really expects you to contribute significant items to the family meal. I did pay for much of her holiday food purchases, and I bought a Sara Lee Poundcake, Cool Whip, and strawberries to take to our brother's tomorrow. I'm not a completely lame member of the family. Plus, I bought books for babies and children even though I only had to buy one gift for the person whose name I drew.
Buying only one gift is a great idea economically, but it sucks emotionally when you're used to buying for four siblings and their significant others and children. Also, right now, I only have one friend that I buy for--Valerie, who bought me two really GREAT gifts: 80s Trivial Pursuit, which I can't wait to play with her, and a fancy corkscrew, which will get used when we play Trivial Pursuit. :-) My friend Lois and I exchange gifts for birthdays instead of Christmas. My birthday was Friday, the 22nd, and Lois's is in February. I'm not sure how our birthday exchange started, but we only do birthday presents.
Speaking of my birthday, I have say a big thank you to Valerie and to Ryan for helping me to celebrate my birthday. Last year, I wanted to celebrate it, but this year, I wanted to ignore it. First, Valerie and I went to see Ryan's new townhouse, which is so perfect and has a great view of downtown from his rooftop patio. I'm so jealous!!! Then we went out for a low-key dinner at Azteca's. We had lots of fun, talking and laughing, and no one sang happy birthday or anything embarrassing like that.
Well, it's almost Christmas Day, so I think I will sign off and read for a long as I can. I am in the middle of The Night Watch by Sarah Waters, and I would like to finish it before I leave here on Wednesday.
I wish everyone an enjoyable Christmas day.