Entry for December 28, 2007: Happy Holidays!

Friends, I hope that your holidays have been happy thus far. Instead of sending out the usual annual update letter, I hope that people are reading this blog.

The week before Christmas was busy, even though Janice and I had finished most of our gift shopping. Working on two issues simultaneously to get most of this week off kept CW's copy desk humming. On Saturday, 22 December 2007, we went to the local dump and post office, and I got my car inspected (which went more quickly and was cheaper than the previous week's repairs).

We also had a Chinese-American buffet lunch at the Hunan New Taste, stopped by the Walpole Mall and the Big Y supermarket, and picked up my subscription at the New England Comics in Norwood, Massachusetts.

On Sunday, we stayed in because of the latest snowfall and caught up on television. What are your favorite holiday specials? Mine include classics such as A Charlie Brown Christmas, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and various versions of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Janice's include A Garfield Christmas, Bill 'n' Opus: A Wish for Wings That Work, and Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas.

Of course, numerous Rankin-Bass cartoons and stop-motion specials have marked the holiday for generations, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and The Year Without a Santa Claus. More recently, we have A Muppet Family Christmas and Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Robbie the Reindeer, and Shrek the Halls.

I also had a quip-filled City of Heroes (CoH) virtual session with David I.S. and company, and Janice baked in preparation for seeing her folks. We plan to have a relatively quiet New Year's Eve, since we'll both be working that day.

We drove to Upstate New York on Monday, Dec. 24, first to Janice's parents' home. Like my parents, Marvin and Linda M. live atop a hill on five acres in the country. Unlike my family, they have numerous pets and a steep, icy driveway. Janice's middle sister Shelly was already there with her husband Melvin W. and children Rebecca, Laura, and David.

I checked out photographs of friends on teenager Becky's Clie handheld device, played chess with tween Laura, and played pool with 9-year-old David and his father. Shelly told us about her missionary work in inner-city Utica, and after a tasty lasagna dinner, we drove down to Janice's youngest sister's home, where we were staying.

We joined Melinda and Gary L. and their children Amanda and Joshua for Christmas Eve. I helped keep the kids occupied while the other adults finished wrapping a pile of presents. Amanda demonstrated her recent violin lessons, and I talked with 6-year-old Josh about various superheroes. Their cat Chocolate kept us company as we slept.

On Christmas morning, unwrapping continued, as the Manwillers and Wrights reconvened at the Lewis home, which has the most open space. Among other things, we got DVDs and an electric snow shovel. We had a ham luncheon, followed by Laura and 8-year-old Amanda playing with animal toys and David and Joshua playing with action figures and videogames. Becky is old enough to participate in most adult conversations.

Thanks to Gary's PlayStation 2 and Xbox, I played an off-road racing videogame with Melvin, as well as Justice League Heroes with Josh. Although I don't have the money or time to add console systems to my crowded tabletop (pen-and-paper, dice-and-pizza) role-playing, teleconferencing, and CoH PC gaming schedule, it was nice to try them out once in a while. Josh also demonstrated Spider-Man and Star Wars Lego II for us. (Lego Batman and Indiana Jones games are coming!)

I telephoned my family in Virginia, but I still missed being with my parents, brother Peter, sister-in-law Kelly, and nieces Ava and Lili. I hope to see them sometime in spring of 2008. But first, we'll be at Dexter V.H.'s latest wedding in New York City in just over a week!

We returned to the Boston area on Wednesday afternoon after taking out the Lewises and Janice's mother to lunch at Applebee's. On Thursday, I caught up on e-mail and prepared for various games, including last night's D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: Holy Steel" teleconferencing team and tomorrow's D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains" holiday makeup fantasy session. I've got to work today.

Of course, no year's end blog post would be complete without a set of "best of" lists. IGN.com has a pretty good rundown of movies, genre television, and comics, but here's my abbreviated version for 2007:

-Favorite movies: Children of Men, Pan's Labyrinth, and Ratatouille

-Favorite SFTV shows: Avatar: the Last Airbender, Doctor Who, and Pushing Daisies (Fellow blogger Ken G. has also noted the untimely demise of the underrated time-travel drama Journeyman, but at least Reaper got picked up.)

-Favorite comic books: Captain America, Detective Comics, and The Spirit

-Favorite musical singles (and videos): "Gone Gone Gone" (Robert Plant and Alison Kraus), "Rehab" (Amy Winehouse), "Umbrella" (Rihanna)

-Favorite RPG releases: D20 Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Ed.: Ultimate Power, A Practical Guide to Monsters (Dungeons & Dragons 3.5/4e), D20 Star Wars: Saga Edition

What were your faves? I look forward to blogging about such entertainment and more in the coming year, and may it bring good health and prosperity for all!

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