This is a picture of one of my family's newest members.
His name is Benson. He's a ten month old Neapolitan mastiff belonging to Jeff's sister. He really doesn't look that enormous in this photo, but trust me, he's a hundred pounds of unbridled puppy love (he'll probably double his weight before he's full-grown), and BOY OH BOY was he excited (and eventually exhausted) this past weekend when eleven of Jeff's clan gathered together in Victoria for one last holiday celebration.
(Yes, Christmas is a flexible date--we count ourselves lucky if it's all done by the end of January, and my brother's still in Nicaragua so my side of the family will probably call still another dinner Christmas before Valentine's Day).
With all this socializin' and celebratin' the grownups would probably be bankrupt from all the gift-exchanges, so we mostly exchanged hugs and food and scratch-n-win tickets.
But we still give presents to the children and this year we sent our ten-year-old nephew Riley over the moon with the recycled gift of our old laptop computer. You should have seen the kid's eyes--big as saucers!
Did he appreciate it? Well...after the frenzied cries of joy and elation...
He puts one hand to his chest, looked deep into Auntie Spider Girl's eyes and said: "This is the BEST PRESENT I have EVER received...except for love..."
His mom pats him bemusedly on the shoulder. "Yes, Riley, love is the most important thing."
"Oh man", my nephew continued, "This weekend has just taken a most UNEXPECTED and amazing turn!"
Heh, is that appreciation or what? :)