Somehow this year turned out to be one of the rare years where we didn't travel anywhere for Christmas. Nor did anyone travel here.
Back when Monkey Man was little, we made the decision to stay home for Christmas and then use that week between Christmas and New Year's to make the road trip to see all of the grandparents. We did that for two years with pretty good success. Then last year when my dad was sick, we did a pre-Christmas jaunt down there and ended up back home on Christmas Eve. We did have my sister and brother-in-law over for dinner but other than that, we were just trying to recover from the madness of the weeks prior to the big day.
This year's madness has been even a little much for me. The three weeks prior to Christmas - or maybe it was four weeks - were so jam-packed with crap that by the time Sunday rolled around (which was our first real "day off") I was exhausted.
On Sunday, though, we had the Forced In-Law Interaction. And honestly, on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being the possibly best visit we could've had, I'd easily give this a 9. No drama, no fits, no rude behavior. The restaurant sucked. Sunday brunch with Santa had the most random offering of food imaginable, it was almost like the cook said, "Hmmm, how can I make this interesting? I'll put out some French toast. Some sliced fruit. Chicken casserole. Tacos. Lasagna." Um, WTF? It was just kind of gross, but since this is the "best place in town" we just sucked it up. My in-laws thought it was spectacular, of course. Oh, and Santa looked like a 23-year old skinny college student. Anyhow, we were supposed to open presents after lunch, but it was pouring rain so we all just shoved our gifts in each others' cars and took off toward home. I'm sure my mother-in-law was upset about it, but there was no way in hell we were standing out in the rain to open gifts.
On Monday, I did the last-minute grocery run which was kind of like being a gladiator. If I'd had a sword and maybe a club it would've gone a lot more smoothly. You know it's nuts when the store has employees that are doing nothing but walking up and down the aisles picking up trash and replacing items that have been dropped/knocked over/misplaced. I wouldn't want that job if my life depended on it. Anyhoo, we ended up meeting my nephew Steve and his wife Yancey at their new house (too cute!) and went out for dinner and to look at the Christmas lights downtown. If I could figure out how to download pictures off of Joey's camera there would be one on here...but I can't. Argh.
Yesterday was quiet. Kind of too quiet, maybe. We made the requisite amount of phone calls to family and friends that kind of put me in a funk. My mother was decidedly cold to me on the phone - she acknowledged receiving her Christmas gift and never said thank you or that she liked it or anything. I guess maybe she's angry with me for being upset with my sister last week. After I hung up I just kind of sat there for a while. It really hurts that no matter what I do, what I say, it's never good enough for her. I'm kind of done with the whole thing. I'm thinking maybe I need to go talk to someone and find out better ways of coping with this short of just cutting my mom out of my life. I know she's had a really rough year - their lifestyle has changed so drastically since my dad's illness and it has thrown her for a loop. I get that. But every time I offer help she turns me down. I can only offer so many times. You can't help someone that doesn't want to be helped or is too prideful to accept help. Not to mention she can be so fucking nasty sometimes that it's no wonder she was estranged from her sister for almost 18 years or that she doesn't have many friends or that my brothers have so little to do with her.
Anyway, that kind of put a little bit of a damper on the day for me. We hung out at the house, Joey helped Monkey Man assemble at least 9,672 Lego kits, and I watched a lot of crappy TV. What is it with the new Lego sets anyway - remember when we were little and all they had were the big sets with ten kajillion Legos that you could build all kinds of cool stuff with? Now everything is a "set" and once you get it assembled into whatever the set is for, you're done. Not a whole lot of imagination or re-use going on with those. Monkey Man was also the proud recipient of a Pittsburgh Steelers uniform, helmet, and "locker". He wore that damn helmet almost all day, it was comical watching him try to talk on the phone while he still had the helmet on.
The Santa haul was awesome. Santa (um, that would be me) gave Joey this cool laptop stand that he can wheel around and use downstairs in the Man Cave when he's watching TV. He had formerly been using the coffee table down there which is oh so ergonomically not working for him. He also got Guitar Hero II and III and is waiting for the appropriate time to get his rock on (not when Monkey Man is around because he isn't great at being patient). Some shirts, socks, Lowe's gift card, candied pecans, new books. He did okay. My mother-in-law gave him some odd hood/neckwarmer thing that is just the gayest thing ever. I told him if he wore it he would have to change his name to Miss Thang. I suspect it will get "lost" in the Christmas trash.
Me, I got some iTunes money, a new North Face jacket that I desperately needed, two identical JJill sweaters (he ordered 2 different colors and they shipped 2 of the same color), and a really beautiful black leather Coach bag. It is hawt.
And the Monkey Man - other than the aforementioned Lego sets and Steelers stuff, he got golf clubs, a globe, the Underdog DVD, an Erector set, a racetrack, and a bunch of monster trucks. We won't be going near any toy stores for a while.
So the other excitement going on around here is that we have mice. Jay had told me that they had mice and apparently a lot of their neighbors do too. They live around the corner from us so I knew right then and there that the little fuckers would be showing up at our house in short order. Then one morning late last week, I had gotten up at 5:15 to let the dog out and popped into the powder room next to the garage door to relieve my aching bladder, and as I was sitting there in a daze I heard scribble, scratch, scribble. I rubbed my eyes and then made a little more effort to listen. Nothing.
Then the other night, we were eating dinner at home (!) when I heard something again. This time in the kitchen. But every time Monkey Man would hush long enough so I could listen, it stopped.
Yesterday I was fixing our Christmas lunch and, um, found some evidence. Ew. So I guess you know what I ended up doing - calling an exterminator and cleaning out cabinets. Blech. Like the kitchen didn't already look like a bomb had hit in there after I fixed lunch.
Today I'm off of work so I can be with Monkey Man. We're going to meet Joey downtown for lunch and if I'm feeling particularly brave we might venture to the mall. Or not. Then we ship him off to one of the Badasses for two days so we can work and actually get paid so we can pay off the Visa bill this month. Our anniversary is Friday, Joey is going to DC on Sunday to watch the Cowboys play the Redskins, and Monday I have to work and then we're having a party. I must be insane. Who invites a ton of people over and ends up working all day? Me, that's who. Hopefully we will close early but I'm not counting on that.
I did think of a funny Christmas story from my childhood this weekend. Back when I was about five or six, my brother Dave had already gone off to college and had come home for Christmas break. I still believed in Santa that year, and I was so excited that I could barely sleep all night. Well, my brother came stumbling in from the bars around 2 AM and I heard him in the living room and thought he was Santa. I went running in there and no, it was Drunk Dave who was sitting there shelling pistachios. "Did you think I was Santa?" he slurred. "Well, you can open your presents if you want to."
So at 2 AM, I shredded into all of my Christmas presents and sat there for playing with everything. Finally around 4 AM I staggered back to my room and fell asleep. And imagine my parents' surprise when they awoke to discover that not only had Santa come, but that their angelic daughter had obliterated every present of hers under the tree.
Give me an inch, I take a mile. Not to mention that it was the year that I got a huge bucket of Slime from my brother. Remember that stuff? I got it EVERYWHERE. My mother was less than enthused.
So this year, Monkey Man got his traditional package from Uncle Dave and Aunt Karen. She works for a huge bookstore chain and is a children's literature specialist so she sends the most awesome books. And inside, a card addressed to me, from my brother: "Next year, Monkey Man gets a big bucket of slime. I was going to do it this year, but Karen stopped me."
God bless Karen. My carpets thank you.