So, we all but ran for the exit of the airport to the comfort of a 8-seater SUV, and headed out for our first meal: Taco Cabana
It was delicious! We picked up a few last minute gifts at Target, and headed back to my mom's place where we spent the night before heading out before dawn to be with my sister, brother-in-law and nephews for Christmas. But, before hitting the road, we stopped in for a diner breakfast that served us up some egg and sausage biscuits, waffles, grits and bottomless coffee.
We spent the next 8 hours driving north towards the freezing temps. Besides witnessing a truck drift off onto the icy shoulder, spin around a couple of times, and come to a dead halt in the middle of the highway before speeding off back down the road, the ride was pretty smooth and calm. We lucked out with the clear skies and got to my sister's place by lunchtime. But, I still had a lot of shopping to get done, so off to the malls I went. Man, do I miss malls!! I just about had a heart attack running into Banana Republic, J. Crew and Macy's, clean, perfectly in order, with smiling sales staff welcoming me into their sales-laden shops. I didn't have much time to shop for myself, but I still managed to pick up a few things that I just couldn't pass up.
I came back in time for Christmas Eve dinner. In our family, my mom usually sets up a spread of hors d'oeuvres for Christmas Eve - veggie tray, chips and queso, buffalo wings, crackers and cheese, pigs in a blanket, pies, cakes,... But, this year, my sister and brother-in-law decided to tackle the Christmas and pre-Christmas foodfest, and we ended up chowing down on some tasty grub that had everyone hoping for a repeat next year.
Christmas Day was merry and bright, just as it should be. We spent the entire day indoors, opening gifts, playing with new toys and enjoying the comforts of being safe at home with family. Even if it meant breaking the long time go-see-a-movie-on-Christmas tradition, it was worth spending the extra time interacting with the people I love but don't see often throughout the year.
Gui had the task of putting together the gift we "imported" from France, which he fervently took on as his project for the day. I spent my time playing some of my favorite board games (Mousetrap and Candyland) and sifting through the after-Christmas online sales at J. Crew.
Since Christmas, we've been doing what we do best - eating and shopping. I've become a frequent shopper again at Target, and my mom has morphed into my own personal chef, taking requests from me and my tastebuds. It's easy to get used to being back here - my family's so close, things are so familiar, but I've definitely had a fair share of reverse culture shock. Most notably different is the behavior of others. There's a culture of friendliness that it seems I've left behind. I've stopped remembering to apologize if I accidentally brush against someone, and it was shocking at first to hear people say "I'm sorry" or "excuse me" when they walk in front of me as I'm browsing the aisles. The accents are different too, and my drawl is back. I haven't walked further than from the parking lot to the front door since I've arrived, and I'm not complaining much about that, as cold and snowy as it's been here. Gui and I are off to Austin in a couple of days, and I can't wait to see all of my friends back home. One of my best friends in the world just had a baby boy, and I'm dying to meet him. I can already foresee the difficulties I'm going to have with returning to Paris and leaving it all behind again, so I'm just hoping I get an overdose of love while I'm here to hold me off until our next visit.