My brother-in-law Michael Mercer and I stayed up a little late playing Gears of War last night.  Very Christmasy.  Christmas really started for us at about 7:00 though, when Amanda woke up.  Michael was either already awake or nearly awake and hadn’t slept well because our chihuahua, Bruce, was sleeping with him and kept bothering him.  At any rate, we got up, Amanda made some coffee for her parents, the cats were fed, the dogs put out to pee then the gift-giving began.  We opened up stockings (filled mostly with candy) then moved on to the bigger gifts.  My big gift was an Xbox 360, along with a couple of games, an extra controller and a charging kit, along with some more shirts, nice thick socks, and a few more things.  A few weeks ago I’d ordered an autographed Duke basketball poster, and when it came in Amanda had the idea to wrap it up and pretend it was from Michael (a die-hard Carolina fan).  He was utterly confused when I started opening the gift and nearly disgusted when he saw what it was.  Amanda and I had a good laugh though.

Amanda’s big present was a trunk from Pier One.  It was being kept out in her mom’s van so she didn’t get it until the rest of us had opened all the other presents.  She sort of figured out that they’d gotten it for her yesterday when she wasn’t allowed to look in the van.  Michael got a Nintendo Wii, which of course he knew he was going to get since he stood in line to pick it up.

After all the unwrapping Michael went about setting up his Wii, Amanda made waffles and her parents ate.  Meanwhile, I made a call to Andra, my youngest sister.  She told me about how Jackson, my nephew, had gotten a TV with a DVD player from his dad’s mom for his birthday the day before, and how he went right to his own bed and had them turn out the lights and everything while Josh Sawyer (his dad) put on Charlotte’s Web.  (For future-people reference, that means the animated one- the live action one with Dakota Fanning just came out in the theaters.)  Andra also said that she and Josh had set up a train set for Jackson last night and got finished around 2:00, but he came in to their room at around 5:00 saying, “Hey!  Hey!”  I guess he saw it and was so excited that he wanted to show it to his parents.

When I called Jackson was busy playing with things, I guess, and couldn’t be distracted to talk to me on the phone.  Mom and Dad were watching Elf, which they hadn’t seen before.  I got off the phone with Andra after a while then went downstairs to eat waffles and eggs and play on the Wii.

In fact, we spent the next while playing with the Wii.  Phil Mercer, Amanda and Michael’s dad, even got in on it some.  We started off playing Wii Sports, which comes with the consoles, then switched to Rayman Rabbids or some such title.  It’s basically a series of mini-games.  Amanda even played a bit and did really well with it.

After a while Michael and I took showers and we all packed stuff up to head on out to Beulaville, back to the home of Peggy and Earl Lemons, for dinner with Amanda and Michael’s maternal grandparents and the Frazelles, their aunt and uncle’s family.  We set up the Wii, of course, and the Frazelles played a little.  Barry really enjoyed it.  I predict that they’ll have a Wii as soon as you don’t have to stand in line to get them anymore.  He did particularly well with the boxing.  In fact, when we first did the boxing I was pretty good, but the second time he played he knocked me out in the first round.

Hannah and Kirsten, Amanda and Michael’s cousins, showed off some spiffy pajamas a relative of theirs on Barry’s side had gotten them.  They looked like something made for elementary school kids in the late 1980’s.

We ate dinner and socialized.  Michael had plans to go by his ex-girlfriend Sarah Denning’s house, so we let him take our Jetta to his house to get his car and head over there.  I napped on the couch then Anna and Barry got ready to leave, just as Amanda’s mom came by to see them and give us a ride back to the Mercer house.

All in all, even though I didn’t get to see any of my family, it was a nice Christmas.  Speaking of my family, Adam, my brother, called while we were on the way to Beulaville.  He’s called a few times but I haven’t actually gotten to talk to him in quite a while, so it was nice to catch up.  He’ll be here in North Carolina again soon with his girlfriend, Renee Sikes.  They’ll be staying with us for a few days until they can go look at some apartments and get settled into a new place.  This will be a very full house during that time: me, Amanda, Michael, Adam, Renee, Bruce, Cobb, Mooo! and Tsota, Adam and Renee’s coati mundi.

Merry Christmas 2006!

Zach Dotsey