Friday, December 24, 2004
merry xmass eve
The day before Christmas, I engaged in what is typically a tedious and frustrating activity: Picking up relatives from NYC. This is not the best time of the year to make a trip up there in a personal vehicle. Sure, the train is ok, but a car or God forbid, a minivan is just insanity. Every time I drive up, I pray that it is not as awful as the last time, and every time it is worse than the last. Yep, insanity defined. We drop off the kids and drive the 90 minutes it takes to get from Philly to NYC through the Holland tunnel and up Canal street to the bldg where we are meeting the relatives. There was an oil spill on the Northern part of the NJ Turnpike so the traffic heading out of the city was backed up all the way to the Tunnel. Fortunately for us, they had cleaned up the slick and traffic was flowing again before we left. The Mrs called the minute we got to Manhattan and discovered that when she said be ready at 1000, they thought she meant start getting ready at 1000. Argh. I had to make two runs around around the block before the Mrs got fed up and went in to smash some heads. It took about 30 minutes to get everyone in position while I was sitting in front of a fire hydrant. Of course, shortly after the Mrs left the Family Tank, one of New York's Finest pulled up beside me and let me know that it was time to move on. Crap, I was not looking forward to another 15 minute delay. Fortunately, with the assistance of a Crack Squad of Bohemian Assault Ninjas and the North Eastern Battalion of the Elite Haupertonian Guard, the Mrs managed to marshal the troops and get them to the curb out front of Confucius Center. The Manhattan Horde crowds into the Family tank and we speed off Northbound on Bowery towards the tunnel in a reenactment of 'Escape from New York'. Except without Ernest Borgnine or that B Grade actress, Adrienne Barbeau. I guess I would be Kurt Russell ... in Soldier, I make a lousy Snake Plissken. But I digress (a lot), it takes 105 minutes to claw our way back off Manhattan, zip down the turnpike (I LOVE EZPass) and slide into the Haupertonian Territories. I promptly start making dinner in preparation for the arrival of the kids. Going on the S&R mission for the Twins went as smoothly as it usually does, but I knew after arriving home that I would need to take a nap. That little nagging pain behind my right eye was telling me that a migraine was on its way. If I act promptly and decisively, I can usually nip it in the bud. I started feeling the twinge when I was carving my way through Manhattan so it managed to get a toe-hold. So be it. I slammed down my usual cocktail of pain killers, maxalt, scotch and bacon. Crawled into bed and take a nap for an hour or so. I woke in a haze of twinkling lights and muted colors, the migraine was winning. Much of what transpired for the meal known as dinner evaded me outside of Jacob being his usual bratty self with the eating endeavor. He just doesn't like to eat what he is given. Little bugger. I spent the rest of the evening sorting a year plus backlog of paperwork in the cool, dark basement till it was time to bathe the kids. After that, I spent a few hours focusing on the pain in my skull as I watched the clock tick away the hours.
I wake with the same blinding pain as I went to bed with. I perform a few menial morning tasks, cram a fistfull of pills down my gullet and leave the kids with the Mrs. God bless the Wife, she is surely my guardian angel. I sleep for a few hours till I am woken by the Hounds doing what they do best, barking at phantom ninjas. I find that the pain has abated and I can now stand upright without my frontal lobe trying to pry its way out of my skull ... with a battlefield nuclear device. Ahhh, the joys of a semi-malfunctioning mind. Speaking of semi-malfunctioning minds, I had my first visit from the Jehova's witnesses. A mother-daughter team strolled up the walkway to the front door and before they made it across the veranda, I intercepted them. Don't want the hounds to run them down, blood is hard to get out of the cement walkway. In any event, they made their spiel which culminated with the question "Do you believe that there can be peace on earth in our times?" I countered with "Apparently not until after Armageddon.". Heh, kinda yanked the rug from underneath them! The mother said "Well someone has been reading the bible! Have a nice Christmas and we would like to leave you with this (rewritten) bible". Blah-blah-blah. It was kind of interesting in that if I had my wits about me, I would have invited them in for a lively debate with my brother-in-law who is currently studying to become a preacher. The moment passed and I laid the book on the end of the table with all the other stuff that I never get the time to look at.
We had another unexpected visitor. It turns out that somewhere in all the bags and boxes that were hauled down from NYC, we brought a cockroach along. I caught the little bastard slowly creeping across the floor. Since the house is pretty chilly, it was not moving very fast and thus, was easy to catch. I guess my miserly ways have resulted in a little bonus blessing. As I scooped up the little invader in a napkin, I could not help but think of Starship Troopers. It's a bug planet.
The rest of the evening became a whirlwind of colors, sounds and smells. I was stoking a fire when it started to pop and hiss at me. I paid no attention to it and paid dearly for my arrogance. One of the coals launched itself from the fire box and landed squarely between my legs. It promptly went out, but not before letting me know that suicide coals should never be underestimated. I need to stop off at the patent office so I can register some of the new dance steps I invented. The hounds were amused. After that little misadventure, I spent most of the evening preparing ingredients for the dinner to come. Chopping potatoes, shelling shrimp, thawing out the snow and Dungeness crab. Stuffing mushroom caps. It was to be a zinger of a dinner as soon as my parents and little-little brother arrive. Of course, Jacob can never be satisfied with dinner and resisted any attempt to get him to eat. I really believe it is a matter of not having the television on that is making him so difficult. This is certainly a bad habit we will need to break him of asap. I don't think it will be helpful in the future if I need to compete with the television when I am asking if he was offered drugs or has been exposed to other social deviations.
After dinner, the twins found out that we had moved all these presents for them under the tree while they were sitting at the dinner table. The sight of mountainous piles of gifts sent them into an adrenalin powered frenzy so ferocious that the trembling of the tree was palpable. The gifts were rended ribbon from bow in minutes, wrapping paper was everywhere. Floor, entry way, tree, tables, ceiling. Once all the presents for the kids were opened, they started 'helping' us with the rest of them. This went on for some time until there was nothing left but needles under the tree. A good time was had by both participants and observers. The kids played with the new toys for a few hours afterwards and seemed to be getting into it when tragedy struck Alexis. A few weeks ago, Jake had a stomach bug that had him vomiting and quite subdued. It became quickly apparent that it was now Alexis' turn. She let Grandma have it with both barrels. She has always been a healthy eater with an appetite to complement it. Grandma caught most of it in her hands, but it was like trying to catch a gallon of chum in a cup measure. We cleaned her up and gave her some malox to settle her stomach before putting her to bed. With that little misadventure out of the way, we went back down to the pile of boxes to dig out Jacob who was struggling just to keep his eyes open. No bath for him either, he could barely keep awake as he clung to his new Brio Thomas trains. Sugar-Plum Dreams indeed.