This time of year reminds me of Comdex. Comdex was a huge computer trade show in Las Vegas that I attended almost every year from 1986 to 2002. I experienced its growth from a large show, to bursting at its seams consuming all hotel rooms in the city and spilling outside the main convention center, to shrinking back down in size. I usually spent two or three days walking the convention floor to learn about new products and meeting with suppliers. It was pretty exhausting.
But after hours I found enough energy to spend time with family members who would come up from Riverside. We would tour the sites around Las Vegas and watch the shows, some free and some with admission charges. The last year we watched the Blue Men Group, for instance. Usually my mother treated us all to the shows.
One year in particular we had so much fun driving from one casino to the next to take advantage of free gambling money. We were all such cheapskates but enjoyed the thrill of the hunt. Often we would crowd several of us into my hotel room to sleep, spilling out onto the floor. I can't recall if it was Kevin or I who clogged the toilet one year and inconvenienced everyone. We would eat inexpensive meals at the hotel buffets.
When I got home we would have a family gathering for everyone to choose gifts from all the free stuff I would get at Comdex. T-shirts, hats, pens, candy, travel bags, alarm clocks, balls, pads of paper, key chains, etc. Suzanne and each kid would take turns choosing one item, first through last, then last through first. It was pretty exciting for everyone.