For the first time in 38 years, I opened no gifts on Christmas Day. Mom and I celebrated on Christmas Eve so that I would have plenty of time to get Dad to the hospital by 6 AM this morning for his scheduled angiogram. He'll likely be in the hospital until tomorrow, which is also his birthday. That's my birthday present to him; I figure a trip home from a hospital stay is probably as good a gift as any.

Not that our Christmas Eve celebration was exactly a big deal. Mom and I had a brief gift exchange and some homemade hamburgers (we forgot to make the french fries we had in the freezer) before working on a jigsaw puzzle. Other than the case of 20-oz Cokes given to me by my new bff Randy, everything I got for the holiday fits in a single, moderately-sized cardboard box. And not a single video game! A quiet evening with mom and no video games? I must be getting old.

I should probably point out that fewer people gave me gifts than ever before. I used to get presents from my aunt, but earlier this month she declared that she is in financial straits this season and wouldn't be exchanging gifts with anyone. I was worried about her until she showed up at our house with the brand new Kindle Fire she bought herself. The worst part was that she only came over because she wanted me to teach her how to use the Kindle. Add that to the time I spent installing Dad's new Blu-Ray player last weekend, and it's been a very Tech Support Christmas.

Still no word from my brother. Presents are wrapped and waiting for him and his new bride, should they ever decide to communicate with us again. Trey's defection from the family certainly remains a bummer, but on the upside, a small holiday gathering of just Mom and me prevented a recurrence of our dysfunctional family's most cherished tradition: our annual shouting matches. I have to say, it was a kind of a nice change of pace.

For the record, this post isn't meant to describe how shitty my Christmas was. In fact, I quite enjoyed myself. It was certainly among the best holidays I've had in the many years since Santa Claus stopped visiting. I only list these things and point out that they combine to something of a high-water mark in my experience so that you, my dear reader, can establish a metric by which to compare your own Christmases to mine. It is my dream that one day we can all have better Christmases through Science. It's what Jesus would have wanted.

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To be continued...