I met Christmas Day with a mix of emotions. I’ve been gone about a month and a half, and yesterday was easily the day I spent the most time thinking of home. I had some ups and downs, but kept my head down and made it through. As nice as it was to have relatives to spend Christmas with, it really wasn’t the same as spending it with my family. We spent the day at Carol’s mom’s, a retirement-like home where we were able to use a big common room all for ourselves the whole day.
Graham and I went down to the Odessy to see Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. We had a half hour to kill, and as I didn’t take any photos of him when I stayed with them in London, I figured I’d get a shot.
 On the shores of the Lagan at dusk.  An inlet of the Lagan. The big yellow crane marked with ‘H & W’ is a famous fixture of the Belfast skyline. They are being decommisioned, but will likely remain as a reminder of Belfast’s historic shipbuilding past.
Christmas Eve was one of the more unique experiences of the holidays. We spent the evening chatting and drinking well after the kids went to bed to wait for Santa. At about 2:30 a.m. the kids, likely curious to what the drunken ruckus was about, decided to come down and see what Santa brought them. Well, “Santa” was still making attempts at wrapping presents. It was … interesting, but we were all too full of “festive cheer” to really care.
 Graham and his mom, Margaret, on Christmas Eve.  Andy showing us how to properly drink Schnapps (minus the ‘Remove Cap’ step).
We finally fell asleep near 3 (after Graham made a quick trip upstairs and said a Christmas prayer to the porcelain idol). Unfortunately due to our sleeping arangement, and Andy’s penchant to waking up early, we were up after only about 5 hours of sleep, which made for a LONG day (and some under the breath cursing by Graham and I). After doing the present opening thing, Andy, Margaret, Samantha and David headed down to Carol’s mom’s while Graham, Carol and I hung back to A) clean up breakfast, B) let Carol get ready, and C) enjoy the hard-found peace and quiet.
 Graham and I looking mighty festive (because of the hats).  Why NOT to fall asleep after Christmas dinner.
The rest of the day was as I said above – a mix of feelings. Missing home, happy to be invited to spend Christmas was my “new” relatives, highs and lows. Today I finally got to sleep in a bit (until 9:30) and I spent most the day lounging around and researching Thailand on the Internet. I am not 100% sure what I’m doing now. I am considering taking a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course in Koh Samui, only problem is, it’s over $1,000 and I can’t afford it with my current amount of limited funds. I’m really not sure what I’m going to do yet.
Me and Carol on Boxing Day – can you tell I really made myself up for the photo?