You know how it is: you get all hyped up for Christmas and then it's over before you've even had time to say, "Pass me another piece of pie," or "It was very thoughtful of you to give me an economy-sized jar of depilatory cream."
Exhausted, you've got to pack up your gifts, and maybe some leftover turkey, and head right back to the home you left only a few hours ago...or so it seems.
We drove across the border back to the United States at peak time yesterday and were delighted that it took only 45 minutes of waiting in a line up before the Customs Agent grilled us about why we'd been out of the country, where we'd stayed and what we were bringing back with us. We were careful not to bring any fruits or meats forbidden by the US Government, and I noticed that some poor traveler who was unaware of the rules had jettisoned three contraband citrus fruits right in front of the Customs Booth. You know, if we're not being felt up by TSA guys at the airport, we're being arrested for smuggling tangerines across the border in our car.
Alex and I had our usual Christmas adventure of driving from place to place to place to see every kid and parent we have on this continent. Timing and logistics are always a challenge and we agonize over whether we'll get to see everyone at the appointed time and location. One little mishap and our entire schedule could be thrown out of whack. Then we'd have relatives circling like airplanes in a holding pattern. Believe me, you don't want circling relatives because by the time you fit them into your adjusted schedule they're a little tired and crabby.
We got to Alex's Mom's house on schedule but as we opened the doors of our car to get out we knew immediately that something was wrong. Our car was making a terrible hiss. More accurately, both our back tires were hissing. I got down on all fours to see what the problem was (because I'm closer to the ground than Alex) and even I, an automotive idiot, could tell that our tires were hosed. They were worn right down to the metal and I think the hiss was the sound of the hot metal on the snowy driveway.
We unpacked our load of gifts, then Alex headed over to Canadian Tire (the only tire store in the world that has a Bridal Registry, I think).
$453 later Alex returned with a couple of new tires and a warning from the service guy that we could have had a terrible accident on the highway, and that we should thank our lucky stars we made it 350 miles in snowy conditions.
Christmas wasn't off to a very good start. But at least we hadn't had an accident. Now we could relax and enjoy our visits with family. The kids would be arriving the next day.
Our youngest kid (the newly married one) was three hours late because the rental agency had run out of cars...so she and her husband couldn't stay with us very long. They had to get back onto the road to visit his parents.
Our eldest kid and grand-daughter arrived on time, but interrupted their three-hour visit with us for a quick shopping trip (I guess we're boring) so we didn't have much time with them, either. Who wants to be with parents when there's an outlet mall just down the street?
Our middle kid (often referred to as "The Good One") drove from NJ to Canada with her husband just as we were on our way back to the US. We met Laura and Mike at a coffee shop outside of Toronto and didn't have much time with them, either. They gave us a Gift Certificate for a nice dinner near the house they recently bought, thus ensuring we'll travel to New Jersey to visit them as soon as we can.
Between visits with the kids we stayed with Alex's Mom who celebrated her 88th birthday. Then we stayed at my Mom and Step-father's house for a couple of days where we watched the wild turkeys in her yard. On Christmas Day we dined on capons because my mother will no longer eat the same birds that look in her kitchen window demanding food. We also got to see my Dad who, I'm sorry to say, is going to have another MRI this week.
The doctor said he's 99.9% sure that there's absolutely nothing wrong with my father. But because the technician did not do the first MRI the right way -- both with and without dye -- my Dad has to go back to have a second one. He's now convinced that this is because the doctor is 0.1% certain that he has some terrible illness that has never been seen before and will require a team of dozens of surgeons to repair...if repair is even possible.
I'm hoping that the doctor gets the results immediately and informs my father that he's absolutely 100% certain that there's nothing wrong with him because my father gets so worried that he can't even go to work from the time he has the test until he gets the results. Last time, it was 11 days.
Can you imagine phoning into work and saying you couldn't be there because you had a test?
"Sorry, but I had an MRI today and I won't be coming in."
"Oh...okay. See you tomorrow."
"Well, I won't be in tomorrow, either."
"Because I had an MRI today."
"Well, I don't have the results yet."
"So why can't you come into work?"
"Because I'm waiting for the results."
"I have to sit here at home and wait for the results."
"Don't you have a cell phone?"
"Yes. But I have to wait at home for the results."
"Are you feeling sick?"
"No. I feel fine. Great, in fact. But I might be sick. So I have to wait here for the call."
"When are they going to call?"
"In a week or so."
Believe me...I cannot make this stuff up. My imagination isn't that good.
Anyway, we had a great Christmas. We got to spend a little bit of time with the kids, a couple of days with our parents, and lots of time together in the car. Just Alex and me. Alone. Together. For sixteen hours. And we didn't even have a fist fight.
While we were traveling, I got to knit a scarf in that beautiful new Anny Blatt Absolu yarn which is soft and fluffy beyond all description.
And I got two new tires on my car.
I hope that your Christmas was as happy and uneventful as ours.