Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Birthday/Christmas/The Day After

I had to work on my birthday for the first time in my life this year. Given that Christmas Eve is one of the busiest shopping days of the year, it made sense that they'd make me work on that day. The shift I worked was a closing shift that was supposed to end at 7:30 p.m. However, we had an extra large ad to put up and I didn't get out of work until after 8:00 p.m. when the manager decided to leave the rest of it for others to do on Monday.

I was tired when I got home but I also was happy to be with my family. For my birthday dinner we had ribeye steaks with salad and cheesy mashed potatoes. The combination of my being very hungry and the fact that I hadn't had ribeye steak in weeks made that dinner extra delicious.

I got a few calls from family and friends wishing me a happy birthday (although I missed my friend Chris's call a couple of times because I was at work) and the four of us seemed pretty content. Then, after 9:00 p.m., I got a visit from my aunt and uncle who always drop by on my birthday to spend some time with us. We sat, talked, and laughed. Mom brought my birthday cake into the living room and in lieu of regular candles, I blew out the two taper candles on the table.

After that, I opened my presents. I got that 2-disc special edition of Sin City on DVD from my sister and a new shirt, socks, and sleep pants from my parents. Then, I opened my gift from my Auntee. It was a digital camera case. Given that we would be going to her place for Christmas, I knew my actual Christmas gift was going to be big.

My aunt and uncle stayed past midnight so we could wish them a merry Christmas. As they left, I went to give them their present. My aunt opened it and seemed very happy to get it. She gave my sister and I our presents before the two of them left for the night. My dad left for work around the same time my aunt and uncle left and my mom, sister, and I decided to open one gift that night before heading to sleep and opening the rest in the morning.

My sister woke me up on Christmas morning like we agreed on, at around 11:00. We opened the rest of our gifts and the two of us eagerly awaited the other's reaction to their gifts. I got my sister the 2-disc edition of Batman Begins, The Emancipation Of Mimi Ultra Platinum Edition by Mariah Carey, and that Best Buy-exclusive Usher three-DVD set. She got me the sixth season of The Simpsons on DVD and her and my parents got me a new portable CD that plays both regular and MP3-CDs. My mom opened her gift from my sister and I...a new CD album (she really needed one). After a while, my dad woke up after coming home from work wired on coffee. He opened his gifts, including the one from my sister and I...a new wallet.

Not too long after Dad woke up, the four of us started getting cleaned up and getting ready to go to my grandmother's house. Christmas this year was bound to be a little different since my cousin and his family drove up from Jackson. When we arrived at the house, it was unusually quiet. However, that didn't last long as we hugged everyone and had fun.

One thing that I noticed throughout the long day and night at my grandmother's house is how we all kind of drifted around to hang out with everyone. I moved from room to room throughout the time there. I hadn't spent that much time around my cousin's wife since they got married and she proved to be a lot of fun and pretty nice. I played video games with the youngest kid, who's 10 years old, and he whipped my butt in Mario Kart 64 a lot. I hung out with the two girls, the oldest and the middle child, as I helped the oldest put a picture on her Yahoo profile. I even managed to find a little time to talk alone with my cousin, who is only a little over three years older than me.

When dinner was served, we repeated something that we did at Thanksgiving...we stood around in a circle and each said what we were thankful for. After that, we all got our food. Since there wasn't enough room at the table, we were kind of spread out in terms of eating arrangements. I sat in the living room with the kids and my cousin's wife with the TV while everyone else ate at the table.

After dinner, we our presents from Auntee and she gave me one hell of a present...a digital camera. A real one...not a webcam. It's an Olympus FE-110 and it was so easy to use that I was able to take pictures almost as soon as I put the batteries in. She stressed to me that it was technically a family present and I plan to show my sister exactly how it works. Now that I have this camera, expect to see more pictures on this blog very soon.

Eventually, it was time for us to leave. Since my dad went over his family's house (and then off to work), my Auntee and my cousin brought the three of us home. However, we had an extra person as the youngest kid asked if he could spend the night with us. We couldn't say no and he rode with us back home. We pulled out the sofa bed for him in the living room and my mom and sister hung out with him as he watched cartoons. I also played a couple of quick rounds of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 with him before I retired to my room.

After a long Christmas, I woke up to the sound of my cell phone ringing. I answered the phone and realized that it was the store manager from work. He asked me if I could come in for a few hours to help out. I rather sleepily agreed to come in and hung up. Since I was hungry, I got up and got some cereal. I told my mom and sister that I was going in a little later and decided to go back to bed after finishing my cereal. When I woke up, the youngest kid was finally awake and about. I got ready to go to work and after I put my coat and stuff on, I went to say goodbye to him since he and the family were supposed to be leaving later that afternoon. It made me kind of sad to see him go since you could really tell that he really didn't want to have to leave (even if he didn't say anything like that).

I went to work and dealt with the post-Christmas return rush. Person after person came to return or exchange items. The Customer Service area was filled with stuff and looked like a tornado had gone through it. I had to continually call managers to the service area to change prices and do selected returns. What made things more interesting was the fact that for most of the time I was there, there were no "real" cashiers at Customer Service. Everyone who cashiered was someone who actually worked in another department whether it was me (and the lead above me) from Team Sports, two people from Apparel, or a manager. An actual factual cashier didn't come in until there were less than 2 hours left in my shift.

I ended up staying nearly a half hour longer than I was supposed to simply because I couldn't get away. Eventually, I ended up pulling my drawer and walking back to the office with the manager over my department. We talked as we made our way back there. He took another job and this week was his last week. Given that I was only scheduled for one day this week (I don't work again until Thursday night) and that his last day was Friday, the day after Christmas was probably the last time I would work with him. I said goodbye to him as I left out the door and he told me that he liked having me work for him. Frankly, he was the coolest and most down-to-earth of the managers there (and probably the smartest) and I wonder who they will get to replace him.

My dad was there to pick me up when I got off work and he told me of the craziness that happened after he dropped me off at work. Unfortunately, I can't relate that tale to you all now for various reasons but know that it's definitely worthy of a blog post all by itself.

Ultimately, I had an enjoyable Christmas holiday. I got great gifts this year and I really enjoyed having my cousin and his family here to spend the holiday with us. However, on Christmas we got some sad news as well as we found out that one of our distant relatives was found shot and killed in his home. Even among all the happiness, fun, and joy, sometimes people have to remind us that evil doesn't stop for Christmas.

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