I hope everyone out here had a great Turkey Day, or at the very least, an early festivus. I had a great time with Lauren’s family this year. We had a great dinner, watched a few movies on her parents flat panel and HD-DVD player. Chris and I even snuck away for a little bit to have a nice Grand Habano and some 12 year old Scotch. It was a nice, relaxing Turkey Day.

Yesterday I had to work but from the other people I’ve talked to it seems like everyone had a good Black Friday as well. My brother is actually quite the BF aficionado. He goes every year and gets all of his Christmas shopping done.

I’m also really excited that quite a few people have gotten 360’s this year, just in time for the holidays. Nagle just got one, as did my brother. I also have it on good authority that one of Lauren’s friends just got one. Her brother has one now as well. My pool of potential XBL playmates just tripled. I had quite a few guys from the TCC on my friends list, but none of them are on very often. Now, with Nagle rockin the 360, my brother getting back on his campus network and our friend across town getting online, this should make for quite the gaming season. Now we just have to find a good game we all would enjoy playing. Halo would probably be a safe bet, most people will get that eventually. Call of Duty is quite good, but that’s more up my alley than anything else. What does everyone else like to play? I’m more than willing to pick up a used copy of Madden or something if that’s where people are leaning. Any suggestions?

Besides Xbox, I’m being taunted around here by what people have gotten me for Christmas. It seems every year everyone knows exactly what to get me and has their shopping done on or before Thanksgiving. Lauren’s mom apparently bought my present months ago. I have no idea what it could be, and, like a 12 year old, that bugs the hell out of me. I hate surprises. What if I go out and buy what someone has already gotten me? I can’t stand holiday gift giving because inevitably it’s the one time a year I have a few extra bucks to buy something for myself, but I can’t, because someone might have already. Of course they didn’t, but the threat of duplicate gifting is almost as staggering as finding the “perfect gift” in the first place.

I don’t want to make it sound like I’m all about the presents. Actually, quite the opposite. I’ve never really received a great deal of presents, so my expectations are really quite low.  It’s the entire process that frustrates me.

You see, my birthday is 4 days before Christmas. As a kid growing up, that meant that every friend/relative/girlfriend/etc gave me a “combo gift” for both occasions. Even my parents often lumped gifts together. Birthday’s were NEVER a big deal in my family and were rarely celebrated. I’m sure Chris and Chip can tell you all about the rather pathetic “let’s get a pizza” birthday parties I had over the years. What was it, 5-6 years in a row where I celebrated my birthday by doing hardly anything? There was a movie or two, a trip to Denny’s that I can remember with Chip, but hell, I don’t think I’ve had a birthday cake since I was 10. So, having rather lack luster birthdays AND lumping those lack luster birthdays together with Christmas made for some rather forgettable holidays.

So, my expectations were always low, and in turn I didn’t see what all the fuss was about when it came to giving and receiving presents. I always thought that the holidays were more about spending TIME with people. That was always the best part to me. Driving down to Boston and having dinner with my grandparents and the entire family. Pie, turkey, bad jokes, stupid cousins, the cooler full of soda on the back porch in the snow bank to keep it cold, football games in the middle of the street, sledding, hot chocolate, bad holiday movies, falling asleep on the couch after eating too much. That’s the holidays to me. The giving and receiving of presents was just something that happened. I would much rather have someone tell me they bought me something cool, hand me a toy and say Merry Christmas than to go through all the trouble of wrapping it, putting it under the tree, waiting weeks to opening it, only to find out that it is indeed yet another shaving kit. I guess I’m just not much of a surprise kind of person.

Does that make me a scrooge? I hope not. I enjoy the season as much as everyone else. I love the weather, the tree, the baked goods, the whole thing.

I think I’ll just leave the shopping up to Lauren. She’s much better at it than I am. I think that goes without saying.

Matt out.