Dallas pt. 1
First we drove to Dallas, because it costs like $50 less to fly out of anywhere else than it does to fly out of Austin, so our flight left from Dallas. We spent some time with Jordan's aunt, and she took us to the airport at 5:00 in the morning. We had to wait for the check-in counter to open. Side note: We got her son a book and I have never seen a boy so excited by a book as a Christmas present--it was cool to see it.
St. Louis pt. 1
Saw Jordan's family, had good Chinese food, and went to a bar with Ashley (after visiting with Alec and her for awhile, but we had to leave Alec to study for a Hebrew final the following day). It was good to see Ashley again, we had fun at the bar and spent way too much on drinks (we asked the bartender to recommend a shot and he used Grey Goose vodka and it wasn't even that good in the end, but since it was GG, it cost $7!) I wish I lived closer to friends.
Jordan and I drove from St. Louis to Chicago, where we stayed at the Swissotel, which was really nice but didn't really have a place to self-park. Since we wanted in-and-out privileges, we ended up valet parking, which cost almost as much as our pricelined-hotel did--$50 a night! We had an awesome view of the Windy City, the lake, and Navy Pier (once the fog cleared up) from our window in our room. While there, we walked down Michigan Avenue, shopped at Water Tower Place(btw, no one knows what Pandora Charms are. My sister wanted a charm for Christmas, and we figured we would buy it in Chicago. WTP has at least 7 jewelry stores, and we went to five of them before we found Pandora charms. We also ate lunch and dinner at the Thai restaurant that has my favorite Pad Thai and the best I've had so far, and Portillo's, which has the best hot dogs and fries in Chicago. Saturday night, we went to Melinda's for her Christmas party, which was surprisingly fun, and I only say that because I didn't really know many people there except Jordan, her, and Stephanie Gorka, but it was actually a fun night. She had a gag-gift kind of white elephant exchange, and one person brought a set of four paring knives, but replaced the store label with the title "4 Stabby-Stabs." A lot of fun was had.
Although, the weirdest part was that most of the people there had a discussion about how they weren't going to have their children believe in Santa Claus. They called it lying to their kids, which I guess it is, but so is a lot of things when you are a parent. I was really confused; I have rarely come into contact with people who truly think that believing in Santa conflicts with Jesus at Christmas. I mean, I always knew that Christmas was really about Jesus, but I always enjoyed the Santa part of it, and I think I enjoy the Santa part now as an adult even more. I love the movies like The Santa Clause and Miracle on 34th Street, and I think there is a lot of secular good about Christmas aside from Jesus that people who don't believe can learn a lot from, and it can open doors a lot of the time for questions about Jesus, because even most secular celebrators of Christmas still know the Christian origin of the holiday. Anyway, I digress. Melinda et al pretty much said that if they did do Santa, most of the gifts would be from Mom and Dad and Santa would only bring a couple. Well, it's a good thing I married Jordan, because I am quite happy with Santa bringing most of the gifts, and with my kids believing in him for that matter, and so is he. I believed in Santa and Jesus for 12 years, and when I stopped actively believing in Santa it didn't make me stop believing in Jesus, so there.
I spent lots of time with my family and that was really great, considering that I hadn't seen them for a year and a half. I can't wait to move closer to home again someday. Jordan and I are both thinking that we would like to live around the Chicago area sometime permanently, we would be much closer to both of our families. Anyway, the 23rd was when we got in, and we spent most of the evening helping my mom make cookies to give away the next day to family (mom was pretty broke this year for Christmas presents). It was a lot of fun. The next day was Christmas Eve with my dad's side of the family. We always have a pretty good time. At first, I was feeling kind of down again, maybe because it was the first year I was there since they changed the location, and that made part of it not really feel the same, but then I went home and played with my puppy, and I felt better, and came back. I miss my dog. Anyway, we ate dinner and played ping pong (speaking of parents lying to their children...my mom changed the rules on me and then told me that they used to tell us the wrong rules as children to keep us from fighting, and Jordan said they don't play by real ping pong rules anyway and that by real rules I was correct.) and exchanged presents. I bought everyone a chocolate bar filled with margarita filling and put it in a bullshit bag that I found in a Texas store. It was a brown sack lunch bag that said "Bullshit Bag: to use: Place bag under mouth. Talk. Close bag tightly when done. Dispose." I thought they were funny, Jordan was glad we weren't giving them to his family. But my family also thought they were pretty funny. My aunt gave me and Jordan an engraved ornament, and a pasta cookbook that also has tons of instructions on how to make your own pasta (even without a pasta-maker). The best gift was to my dad, it was an I'm With Stupid shirt, except the arrow pointed up at him. Classic. Later, we had a great sing-along in the basement. I've discovered that the reason we used to have sing-alongs at family parties was because one of my aunts would get really drunk and start one up, and since everyone else was pretty drunk they would join in, but most sober people don't care for sing-alongs as much. Well, I always loved sing-alongs growing up, so I started a Christmas Carol sing along with everyone, and then we sang some other songs, including "Before He Cheats" which is one of the few country songs that I just love. How can you not? Overall, I had a great night with my family. I really do miss seeing them more often.
Christmas Day I spent with my family, and most of it was spent napping. After we stayed real late at my uncle's the night before, my sister Candace came over at 9 in the morning to have use open gifts so she could get on the road. Jordan and I got a neat movie basket (blanket, movie, popcorn, candy) from Michele, she loves us. We also got a tiny baby doll that was her hint that we ought to get started on a nephew for her. That baby spent most of Christmas being held near Michele's ear saying "Aunt Michele, mommy and daddy say I have to live with you until I'm 18." Jordan gave me The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack with 2-discs, including songs from the movie performed by other artists. Marilyn Manson's rendition of This Is Halloween honestly creeps me out way more than it should (but it's also really good, I hate to say). I gave him a mug and a shot glass from Disney World, from Mickey's PhilharMagic, one of his favorite attractions. At the end, Donald gets shot from a tuba through the wall behind you, and that's the part that the glasses show, Donald through a wall. They're really cute. Anyway, we napped for like 4 hours that day, and then watched some tv and got ready to drive back to St. Louis the next day. OH! I almost forgot what my dad got us. He gave me another tape he made for me of Matlock episodes (I love that show) and he made Jordan a condensed tape of our Woodford Home Videos. Now, let me explain. We never had a video camera growing up, but every now and then someone who did would come over and we would go crazy. So, that's what Dad gave Jordan. I can't wait to watch it with him. (end sarcasm) This tape has me singing on it. Singing! Back when I still thought I could. A song that my aunt and I wrote together. I'm crazy.
Anyway, that brings us to the end of the Detroit segment of the trip, and I am hungry now. Plus, once Jordan gets out of the shower we're going to finish our grocery shopping, so I should finish this for now. Later I'll write about the rest of the trip, there's a lot to get to in the St. Louis pt. 2 chapter. I wonder if anyone read all of this...I bet karkota, leucocrystal (only cause hers are so long too), and perhaps some of the newer LJ friends did. And maybe Melissa and of course Jordan. Ashley might if she's bored.