The House Without a Christmas Tree ended just after midnight. By then I was about to burst.
You see, I had wangled a special gift for James. When the Nook Color readers came out, there was particular interest from the Android community because the units can be hacked. (The salespeople in Barnes & Noble will even talk about it right out.) You could either root the unit itself to turn it into an Android tablet, or get a bootable miniSD card which would start the unit as a tablet. A friend of ours' brother-in-law had chosen the latter option, and we were rather intrigued, one of the reasons we bought a Nook in the first place, but we hadn't done anything about it.
Since the Nook tablet came out, we have been both casting covetous looks at it, but it's a totally unnecessary expense. So I went back to e-Bay and hunted around for people selling miniSD Android boot cards. One person had a flawless rating and his prices were very reasonable (he didn't charge much more for a formatted card than the card costs by itself). So I ordered two, and they finally came on Tuesday. I wanted to try mine out that afternoon, but James came home early, and then he was off on Wednesday. So I didn't get to try out the gadget until Thursday, but the directions were very clear and I got everything up and working within an hour, and I even tested it out on Friday going out to Panera Bread. By then I was reduced to giggling to myself and tossing out veiled references on Facebook, including an obscure post about sampling some gingerbread (the operating system on the card is referred to as "Gingerbread," as the Android developers name their different versions after desserts—we have "Froyo" [frozen yogurt] on our phones and the newest tablet software is "Honeycomb," to be followed by "Ice Cream Sandwich").
So once it was after midnight, we had gifts. James got through his in turn: a wireless mouse with some shortbread, a book 50 Battles That Changed the World, a new cover for his Nook, the Flying Wild Alaska DVD set, and the Blu-Ray of World War II in HD, and finally the card, which was taped to the back of a Scottish door sign.
(I had a lovely group of gifts from him as well: the Scrabble "Book Lovers" edition, a Rick Steves gift set of Blu-Ray of European Christmas and the companion book and CD, plus a "Travel Tips" DVD, a compass, and a microfiber travel towel, Ken Jennings' book Maphead (about geography geeks), the newest Revels Christmas CD, and a nostalgia book called Christmas Wishes, crammed with old advertising and other Christmas media.)
Well, we ended up being up until three a.m. because James ran into a minor snag. Oh, the card worked for him perfectly, but to have access to the Android market he needs to sign into the tablet operating system with his Google I.D. that was set up for the cell phones. Except he hasn't used the Google account since we bought the phones two years ago, so he has no idea what the password is, even though he has several convoluted ones he usually uses and he tried them all. We finally asked Google to help us, and they have an even more convoluted password retrieval system. James had to fill out a long form, and this morning they asked for 30 cents to confirm that the request was coming from a real person who wasn't being frivolous. [eyes roll]
So I ended up only getting about six hours sleep, which included waking up being cold because my fan was on medium instead of being on low, and the fleece over the comforter had slipped off. So my eyes have been rather sore today. I was up at 9:40, and walked the dog out in the pouring rain—last year we had snow, this year it was cold rain, hardly a fair trade, but at least it wasn't warm! James didn't get up until eleven, and then I went out to get a newspaper, and later he made more brownies for Christmas dinner as well as a corn pudding. Eventually I had to take some ibuprofin and give my head a rest before we got dressed, gathered the food and the gifts, and headed out to the Butlers' house about 3:30.
It was a nice little gathering: us, the Lucyshyns at the last minute, as Alex had emergency surgery last week, Charles, the Kiernans, the Boroses, and all four Butlers plus Colin's college friend Jessica. All the food was yummy: a ham, some turkey breast and a pot roast, two kinds of potatoes, sweet potato souffle, rolls and biscuits, stuffing, and the corn pudding, plus three pies, the brownies, a cake, and some mint fudge for dessert. When we'd eaten our fill we had gifts: I got a pretty mug filled with chocolates and the animal book Unlikely Friendships and James got Tom Clancy's new book and a book about war dogs. A very nice day with friends which ended about nine, when we headed home to give Willow a walk and then watch A Christmas Story and "The Best Christmas" episode of The Waltons. Willow got a special treat, too, her very first taste of the dog ice cream "Frosty Paws."