We're at Ashley's `rents' house where Christmas is a time to celebrate the festive season by spending time with loved-ones, laughing, telling stories and eating tremendous amounts of fantastic food. (And to me, that is the definition of a good time.)
My moms-in-law is a famed cook who spent much of
yesterday and the early morning hours crafting an exquisite brunch for
the "fambly." We fell upon it at 9:30 Christmas morning, feasting on
quiche, country ham, biscuits, eggs, cheesy grits, baked french toast
and other sundry foodstuffs. I then spent the rest of the day avoiding
going into that part of the house, for fear of being drawn inextricably
to the food table. Didn't work.
As to our Christmas...
None of us are particularly well-to-do money-wise at
the moment so for the past few years we've put a moratorium on
gift-buying. Basically, we might buy gifts for any kids who happen to
be around, but none for anyone older than ourselves. And every year,
just about everyone cheats and gets stuff for people anyway, pissing off
the people (i.e. us) who DIDN'T cheat and DIDN'T get anyone anything,
as per the rules of the game. (Not that I'm complaining too much, as my
wonderful mother-in-law gave me a home-made, hand-knitted, actual-size
Doctor Who scarf a couple of years ago, and I count that as one of the
all time greatest Christmas presents I've ever received.)
This year, though, we finally managed to convince
everyone not to get us anything and it worked. And there were very few
kids around, so no one had to wade into the fray of Christmas shoppers
fighting to buy the best stuff. On our way into town Wednesday, we drove
past the enormous lines of cars stretched down the interstate near the
exits leading to the Mall area of town and we cackled gleefully and
unsympatheticaly at them. "Stupid Christmas shoppers!" we shouted.
"Who would be dumb enough to venture out on Christmas Eve to shop?"
What a difference a couple of days makes.
This morning, at 5:30 a.m., I was roused by my sweet
wife who was about to go out to do a spot of Day After Christmas,
pre-dawn shopping. Her quest was to find a DVD player to serve as our
Christmas present to one another this year. However, she wasn't sure
what I might be looking for in a DVD player and had opted to consult me
on my surprise. I don't know if that was good or bad idea, at this
point. Perhaps I should have just said, "Get a good one" and left it at
that. Instead, I decided to drag-keister out of bed and accopany her
on her quest because I didn't know what I want in a DVD player either.
We went to Sears, Best Buy, Target and Circuit City.
Most everyone was fresh out of anything we were interested in. Some
had woefully cheap DVD players, but I've spent many years buying the
cheapest appliances on the market and have almost always regreted it
later, so we didn't go that route.
Now for those of you who've never shopped for one of
these things, you might wonder what the hell is so complicated about it
all that it has to be made into a major life-decision. Fair question, I
suppose, but there are a lot of factors to consider. See, I'm sort of
in the market for a DVD/VCR combo, because my VCR has suuuuucked for the
past couple of years and refuses to be programmed. So I could use a
new VCR with my DVD. But I don't want a sucky VCR with my DVD, so I
have to make sure it's got the whole four head system, etc. My stereo
is also on its deathbed and is no longer willing to actually play CDs,
so a DVD player that can do that would be handy too. It would also be
nice if it could play MP3s. I don't actually have any MP3s, but should I
ever stumble on any, I'd like to be able to play em. Hell, I'd also
like an FM radio frequency tuner in there too, (see the above bit about
the crappy stereo), and a home theater sound system would be handy,
while we're at it. I'd also like progressive scan as a feature. I
don't own a digital TV, or anything, nor am I likely to won one in the
next 10 years, but I'd like to have something that can hook to it and
play DVDs most efficiently when I eventually do own one. (Like any
piece of electronic equipment purchased today will actually last 10
years. I've been through 2 VCRs, 2 TVs and a couple of stereo systems
and any number of computer systems in the past 7 years. Electronics in
this day and age are not made to last.)
Basically, I want a miracle machine that does
everything I might want it to do, exactly when I tell it to do it. No
one makes one of those, though, so we have to wade through ones with
lesser options.... at 7 in the morning... with 5,000 other pre-dawn
after-Christmas shoppers dogging our steps.
After searching the world over for the better part of
four hours, we gave up. Nothing ideal was available and what was
available was of debatable quality. We slunk home empty handed.