With the Christmas holiday coming up, it makes me think about some of the adventures surrounding gifts. Yes. Acquiring a gift can be an adventure. I’m not talking about an Arnold Schwarzenegger-Sinbad Jingle All the Way kind of excitement. The escapades my sisters and I went through up in Iceland to get my parents the perfect present for their fifteenth wedding anniversary is more my cup of tea.

This all started with a plan. First, we needed to save our allowance. We did that, socking away enough money to execute the second part of the plot: picking the gift. Life on a US military base in a foreign country is something all together different than you experience in the civilian world.

This is the former base in Keflavik, Iceland. It shut down in September 2006.

We would take the bus up to the Navy Exchange (the military base equivalent of a Walmart or Target—without the groceries) at different times. We agreed on this silver platter. The three older ones of the four of us knew that the 25th anniversary was marked by silver, but we felt they needed it ten years early. And I don’t think we knew what the 15th was associated with.

On the morning of the operation, I left my bedroom window unlocked. We lived on the bottom floor of the apartment building in Tree Housing, and on a military base there wasn’t a whole lot of petty crime that I can remember. After school, we were supposed to go to the Youth Center.

6 Holly. Our apartment was the left on the bottom floor. My bedroom was on the other side of the building.

This place was awesome. Games, crafts, air hockey, fooseball, dodgeball. Screaming kids everywhere. Luckily, I was in seventh grade so I was allowed to hang out in the “Teen Room.” Nice and quiet. Chilling, listening to Prince and Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Hanging with the “big kids.”

That low building on the other side of the fence was where the Youth Center was.

But on the day the plan all came together, Ann—two years younger—and I went to the exchange to make the purchase. This was the middle of the Cold War, and we felt like top-secret spies. Apparently, we weren’t very good. Guess who saw us climbing out my window? The old man.

He told us to go back to the Youth Center. Later that night, we received a LOUD lecture and ended up being grounded for two weeks. No friends. No bowling alley. No arcade. No movie house. Nothing. This was about a week before the actual date, and after putting our heads together, Ann and I decided to give it to them then.

We saw several movies here. Several months after release dates in the States.

We brought it out and handed it to them, our heads hung low. Can you imagine the guilt they felt? I remember Mother crying and holding us to her. For some reason, I remember that adventure making me feel like a grown up. Maybe it was because we planned, saved, and executed the undertaking all on our own. Iceland was awesome.

My playground for three years.

WHAT I’M UP TO

WRITING: I turned in No One Heard Me Scream Today and Other Accessible Poetry by JC Crumpton to the WaterSedge poetry chapbook contest before the deadline…with fifteen minutes to spare. Now I am buckling down to finish up Bishop by the end of the year. More and more writing. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

FICTION: Turned to another thriller this week. James Rollins’ The Demon Crown. It is the 13th Sigma Force novel. Rollins isn’t Dickens, but old Charles never kept me turning pages the way I do to see what next bit of trouble the Sigma Force team and get themselves into and out of.

Exciting page-turner. I read all 434 pages in just three days.

NONFICTION: Last week, I picked up Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. I have always been intrigued by the story of the man that rose from being an outcast as a boy to conquering a larger empire in just 25 years than the Romans did in over 400 years. Slackers.

Can’t wait to get into this book.

TELEVISION: I wanted to finish the Hulu series Reprisal before I started another series, but after season four of The Expanse dropped on Amazon, I couldn’t resist. I’ve been waiting for this season ever since Amazon picked it up after SyFy cancelled it. It is pure, hardcore science fiction through and through. And the character development in it is amazing. Amos has to be my favorite character. To the point, and he doesn’t waste time with meaningless civilities. How refreshing that must be. The only thing I wanted more of—can’t say that I didn’t like it because that would not be accurate—is the development of the Bobbie Draper storyline where she is on Mars after being dishonorably discharged for saving the human race.

Best science fiction series out on the small screen right now. Easily.

MOVIES: Two movies this week: 6 Underground on NetFlix was awesome. Fast and bloody and lots of explosions. Hey…Michael Bay directed it. And Ryan Reynolds acted in it. Not disappointing in any aspect of the word. Jumanji: The Next Level was an adventurous, fun movie. Not as good as the first two, but it was still an entertaining and exciting movie. This next week may be a two-movie week also with the release of the latest Star Wars film in theaters and The Aeronauts on Amazon streaming service.

Last week was a great week for movies.