Saddam Hussein was hanged this morning. Apparently some of the people who were there were making some noise about Muqtada al Sadr. I saw a silent video clip that showed the noose being put around the former dictator’s neck. He looked tired, but ultimately dignified. It feels odd, knowing that he’s gone. He was, as I saw somewhere, America’s favorite bad guy. Not that people liked him, don’t get me wrong. It just seems that he’s become so much a part of the world culture. One thing I think it’s funny that I haven’t seen commented about is how we helped Saddam and Iraq out. Also, it seems like they should have finished trying him for all the other crimes against his own people, instead of carrying out the death sentence on just one of his crimes. Where’s the justice for everyone else?

We did the normal Saturday morning thing with Brucey cuddle time and whatnot. After that I went to get the oil filter and Amanda did the packing for the weekend. It took an hour for me to get the filter, which was really pretty frustrating for me. I thought since I already paid for it and had to come back for it they’d have done me a favor and bumped me up. No deal.

While I was waiting there I called the house. My cousin Jeff’s daughter, Hannah Cherryholmes, answered the phone. I talked to Andra and told her Amanda was planning on making her white chili if there were no other dinner plans, then I talked to my brother, Adam. He and his girlfriend, Renee Sikes, had gotten in from San Diego at 2:00 this morning.

We left a little after 11:00 for Rougemont. While on the road I called my friend Rick Titus. I haven’t talked to him and his wife, Annie, who were really good friends of mine in college, in quite a while. Nothing big to report; we just chatted a bit and caught upon things.

When we got to Durham Hannah came right out to see us. Her little sister, Aubrey, came out too. She used to be extremely independent-minded and would hardly pay you any attention if she wanted to do something else. She was very affectionate though. My other sister, Erin, who has been living in Portland, Oregon, came out with our nephew, Jackson. Apparently he’d been paying a lot of attention to her, but once I got there that was over. Jackson took my hand and lead me out to the front yard, just walking around.

I finally convinced my two-year old nephew to go inside, where Amanda and I gave him his birthday presents. He first opened a box with a sweater with a train on it and some new shoes. Of course he wasn’t very interested in that but he did like his other present- a bowling set. Ten plastic pins and two small plastic bowling balls. We showed him how to roll it instead of throwing it and he had a good time. We kept telling him to back up because he was knocking them down from within arms’ reach. Before he rolled the ball he’d say, “Ready set go!”

We also had Christmas presents for him, but I didn’t want to give them to him in front of Jeff’s girls. My mom ended up taking them somewhere, so we took that opportunity to give Jackson his Christmas present- the Big Digger. It’s a little riding toy with some buttons that make noises and a big scoop on the front of it. He had some fun with it for a while, trying to scoop things up in the bucket.

Jeff and his youngest, Aubrey, eventually showed their faces. Jeff was pretty tired- he, Erin, Andra and Josh had all gone out last night. Jeff’s mom, my Aunt Reggie (Grandma Reggie to the girls) was there too. I found out that my other cousin (Jeff’s big brother) David had married his Russian girlfriend, Xusha, the day before. I should call him and congratulate him.

I hooked up the Xbox 360 after a while and introduced Adam and Josh to Gears of War, which they played for a while. It turned out there were indeed dinner plans. We had a nice juicy roast. I fell asleep on the couch watching TV before we all headed off to bed. I think everyone was pretty tired. With so many people in the house Amanda and I were lucky to get a bed, but we did get the room we usually sleep in (which was mine first, then Erin’s when I went off to college). We didn’t really have blankets though- there were just two very thin sheets. I let Amanda have the slightly wider one.

Zach Dotsey