We left at noon for St. Louis and my brother's family of five kids, plus my sister and my parents. It was chaos, but everyone took turns with the little ones. We looked for free entertainment and found it at the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour, where they had this dog-and-pony show in the stable.
On the way home my brother had to show us a house that apparently wants to outdo the one in "Christmas Vacation." This is Teddy Bear Christmas Land, complete with animatronics in a small enclosure and each house window. I wonder what the neighbors think of this indulgence.
This is my mystery gift to my brother, just because. It is an Annoy-a-tron 2.0, an amazing toy the size of a business card. Its function is to drive people crazy with any of six sounds (your choice!) emitted at random intervals at an adjustable volume. It comes equipped with two powerful magnets so you can hide it in places like file cabinets, refrigerators, ductwork, and trashcans. (Ben has one too, and he has used every one of those places so far.) The sounds include a beep, doorbell, cricket, and a tone only audible to teens and apparently painfully so. I love this thing. You can get one of your own at ThinkGeek.com. Be sure to check out the customer testimonial and action photos.
This is my sister's mystery gift to me. It took me seventeen guesses to figure out this miserable thing. (My sister-in-law saw it earlier and got it in one guess.) Do you know what it is?
Oh, yeah. My gift to her? It's collagen casing, found in the hunting section of an outdoorsman's store, alongside everything you need to field-dress your quarry. Yum.
Update: I took my mystery gift to work today. My colleague guessed it in one guess. Yeah, I'm an idiot. Hint: it's really stretchy.
Update II: Okay, the big reveal. The mystery gift above is a trash-basket gasket for holding a liner bag in place. The triangles provide grip without rolling. Now I'm on the lookout for next year's gift.