So how did my Christmas go? Exactly as expected.
The bus ride from New York to Pennsylvania took an extra 90 minutes on account of holiday traffic, which wasn’t so bad because I packed a mini bottle of Baileys Irish Cream to add to my coffee. “Don’t judge me,” I said to the girl sitting next to me as I cracked it open. “Please,” she replied. “I wish you had two.” Oh but I did and I was happy to share. Happy holidays to you, girl next to me on the bus who is still knitting the scarf she’s supposed to give to her mother in less than 24 hours. I like your style.
When I arrived at the Wilkes-Barre bus depot I noticed two things: 1. There were at least 50 available parking spots; and 2. My parents were waiting in the fire lane anyway.
On Christmas Eve, my mother’s cousin fell through a folding table when he insisted on sitting on it as it was being carried out of the dining room. For once, furniture was broken and I had nothing to do with it.
Later that night, my brother wrapped and re-gifted the megaphone he gave me last year. My grandmother snatched it out of the hands of a child dressed like an elf and used it to tell the entire party to shut up. Twice.
On Christmas Day, Dr. Socks was again outsmarted by a jingle bell when he knocked it under a dresser and then waited in vain for it to come back out. Twenty seconds later, he seemed to forget what he was even sitting there for. He did, however, thoroughly enjoy the new toy my brother bought him: a chicken on a string. Once it was stuffed with catnip, he wouldn’t leave it alone and after hours of near-continuous chicken play, he and I were friends again. Dr. Socks and Nova: A little Christmas miracle.
When my grandmother arrived, she wasted no time giving my brother a gift for his new baby. It was a cat-shaped pin cushion, which I gave her for Christmas sometime around 1992.
I lucked out much better. I got a vintage dress from the back of her closet. It’s black with long sleeves and a flouncy bias-cut skirt. I love it.
“It looks like an ice skating costume,” I said as I twirled in the kitchen.
“No it doesn’t,” she said. “And don’t wear it with boots.”
I’m wearing it today. With boots.
From the Danger File: my aunt gave me a candle made of soybean oil. After you light it, you’re supposed to dip into the heated oil and use it as moisturizer. It’s like she’s never met me.
This year, our family played no Scrabble, which is probably for the best because we were all getting along pretty well. My brother’s wife and I did, however, make a gingerbread house and my father got very aggravated that we were using “those good mints that they give you at The Olive Garden.” He stuffed four in his mouth at once when he thought I wasn’t looking. I said nothing. Because we were all getting along so well.
Later that night, my father insisted on watching a show called Prospectors, which is original programming produced by The Weather Channel. It’s about people mining topaz and getting rained on in Colorado. He offered his expert commentary while my mother read the local temperatures that were scrolling on the bottom of the screen. I left the room after ten minutes.
My parents had never heard of Fitbits, so my gift to them didn’t go over particularly well on Christmas morning.
In fact, my mother appeared thoroughly bored with the concept until I showed her the accompanying app the following day. “OH, IT’S A STEP COUNTER!!” she shouted. “I LOVE IT!!” I tried to show her all the other features, but she didn’t seem too interested. “I really love that it’s a step counter.” Whatever makes her happy.
My father, on the other hand, demanded so much more. “Can you set this up so that it will track my snorkeling?” he asked.
He snorkels once a year. And the answer is no, I cannot.
“How about canoeing?” he asked.
“You don’t have a canoe,” I said.
“In case we ever get one.”
My mother asked me to set her passwords to “Baby15.”
“What?” she asked. “It goes with the others: Engaged13 and Wedding14.” I have never been so thankful for my brother.
I asked her, “What would the password be if you had to base it on my life? NigeriaFail10?”
“You said it, not me.”
For the three days I was home, I ate entire meals that consisted of nothing but carbohydrates. After a lunch of mashed potatoes and a side of potato chips followed by a three-hour bus ride back to New York on the 26th, I forced myself into a seven-mile run. On my way back to my apartment, I happened upon the personal trainer from my gym. I looked totally presentable in non-cuffed sweatpants. He had with him a puppy named Pocahontas. I died a million deaths.
This year ended on a high note. And because Santa Claus was generous, we’re going to keep it rolling right into 2015. A trip to Paris is being booked.
Bonne année et bonne santé