My sister stayed in Chicago, and my father and brother Joe went out there to celebrate; I stayed back in PA with my mother and brother Jeff. We enjoyed the usual Christmas Eve feast: mushroom soup, babalki (small bits of boiled dough with milk, honey, and poppy seeds), fried fish, rice, and lobster. My two best presents this year were a hand-cranked LED flashlight and cell phone charger (great for backpacking/hiking), and the DVD set of the Dungeons & Dragons animated TV series. I had completely forgotten about that little tidbit of my childhood, but my brother Joe somehow remembered. It was very touching.
On Wednesday (Dec 27), I drove down to Allentown to see my friends John, Jeff, and Elizabeth. That night I drove up to Stroudsberg to see rainbear. Lots of fun catching up with all of them; things like cell phones, email, and LJ make keeping in touch easier, but seeing my friends in person is wonderful.
That day I had also gotten to eat at Bethlehem Brewworks, which I continue to obsess over. It was perhaps even better than I remembered. They seem to have expanded their already impressive menu, and the beer hasn't suffered a bit. The ESB and the Doppelbock both went better with food than they did straight up, but all were very good to exceptional.
The only travel drama was on my flight back. It turns out the regional carrier that NWA uses for AVP (Pinnacle Air) had just been taken over by, of all airlines, goddamn motherfucking Delta. So of course it took an extra hour to get the paperwork done, on top of the fact that it was late getting in. Then, just as we were on the runway to take off, another airplane had to make an emergency landing, so we had to get off and taxi around again. This got us into DTW about 90 minutes late, and I only had a 2 hour layover. I ran across that airport like a madman, and just barely made my connection. About 2 minutes after I got on they closed the door. Of course, this meant I had no time for dinner at all, so had to settle for a bag of trail mix on the plane as well as the snacks that I'd packed. I suspect that this contributed to my sickness the next day. Bah.