My sister just told me that she tells her friends about my legendary alcohol tolerance. I don’t know how I feel about that.
Christmas time is a time of tradition and memories. Every year, I look back and think of Christmases past, with the Christmas Eve candlelight church service; homemade spaghetti and meatballs; getting up at 6am Christmas morning with my sister grumbling, “The presents will still be there at 8:00, you know;” and having a big breakfast of country ham, eggs, and grits. These were the elements of my favorite Christmases growing up.
And then, one year…
One thing to know about me is that I grew up in North Carolina, but when I was 15 we moved to Indiana for my dad’s job. Before we moved, Christmas had always been a tradition-filled, festive, special holiday for my entire family. Both my mom’s family and my dad’s family had always lived within an hour of each other and the usual holiday schedule was for us to spend the weekend before Christmas with the maternal side and Christmas Day with the paternal side.
The year my parents and I moved to Indiana, leaving my college student sister behind, we were presented with the problem of where to spend Christmas. My parent finally decided to spend it like we always had – with family. The only difference is that instead of spending a nice, warm glowing Christmas Eve in the comfort of our home we would stay at my paternal grandparents’ house.
At first, I was really excited. Going to North Carolina would provide me with the opportunity to see all the friends I had left behind. There would be trees! And hills! And actual lakes instead of retention ponds called lakes in order to sell houses facing said ponds for higher prices! Sure, my extended family tended to get on my nerves (surprise, right?), but I wasn’t going to spend much time with them anyway. I’m not sure why exactly I thought that given that I was 15 and couldn’t exactly drive myself anywhere, but, you know. It was a teenager’s idealism.
The morning that we left, I got up at 5:00am because my Dad insisted on us being on the road by 5:30am. It was easy for him because he has a special brand of insomnia wherein no matter what time he goes to bed, he wakes up at 4:00am, wide awake. He’s practically ready for lunch by 5:30. I, on the other hand, cannot function if I wake up at any hour that starts with anything less than a 6. And at 15, I normally saw the AMs before going to sleep. And believe me, if I haven’t gotten 8 hours of sleep, WATCH OUT. “Mandy,” my evil alter ego (I have a really good story about this which I’ll post someday), comes out. You don’t want to meet Mandy. You wouldn’t like Mandy.
Barely able to keep my eyes open, and often failing even at that simple task, I got ready. I pretty much just blindly reached into drawers and threw stuff on. I would have fit right in on People of Walmart.
After stumbling downstairs with my suitcases, I folded myself into the small compartment left in-between all the gifts and luggage while my parents spread out in their spacious front seats. The evidence that I was only 15 at the time is that I was still able to sleep with my feet draped over the luggage and my head laying on my parent’s travel bag. In fact, I slept most of the day given that my dad’s worst nightmare is actually STOPPING while on a 10 hour drive. I mean, God forbid any of us have any hunger or needs for bodily functions because my dad IS NOT STOPPING FOR ANYTHING. PEE IN YOUR PANTS IF YOU NEED TO.
Finally, around 4:00pm, we pulled into my grandparents’ driveway. My grandmother, Grandma Wino, ran out of the house, arms outstretched to wrap each of us into a hug, careful not to spill her ever present wine, and cooing how happy she was to see us in her high-pitched, Edith Bunker voice that I think she purposefully raises in an attempt to sound younger. Following her was my grandfather, Mafia (since passed, God rest his Italian soul), slowly and casually walking out as if he had just interrupted his programs and we had just seen him last week instead of months ago.
I grabbed all of my suitcases and followed my parents into the house. Nothing had changed. It was still the eternally dim house (electricity costs money, dammit!) with the fake tree laden with 1970s ornaments. They still had the same furniture they had when my dad was a teenager. The table in the attached dining room was covered by already-opened bags of Doritos waiting for us to snack on.
“Do you want something to drink, Amanda?” Wino asked. “I had Mafia go out and buy you a Pepsi.”
Thinking that maybe this was the year she would remember that I do not drink diet soft drinks, I answered, “Sure.” She shimmied over to the refrigerator and pulled out the bottle. Diet Pepsi. What a surprise. She poured me a big glass and handed it to me. As everyone else settled around the table with yummy, yummy, yummy, wine (ok, I didn’t know at the time how yummy it was because I … actually didn’t drink as a teenager), they began to catch up from the last visit and I sipped my vile liquid. Finally, after a few minutes I went back to my grandparents’ office where they had their 1990 desktop computer so that I could go play that one game where a snake goes around obstacles to something (was it apples?) and every time you ate one you grew and you had to not eat yourself? Does anyone remember what I’m talking about? Anyway, that’s how I always spent my time at my grandparent’s house. By the way, I’m pretty sure my grandmother still has that same desktop computer.
To be continued…. Next time…What was the rest of Christmas Eve like?
So I usually like to do at least a couple of posts a week but I don’t think I’m going to have another substantive post this week. Something came up in my life that my mind has been singularly focused on and it has soaked up all of my creative juices.
I’m hoping this will be over soon. I have some post ideas and I’m hoping I’ll have some time this weekend to sit down and write. In the meantime, feel free to peruse the blog’s greatest hits below. You know, from the entire month of its existence. Make a game of it and state which one is your favorite in the comments.
My Twitter followers know something about me that fans of my blog may not know: I’m a huge fan of Disney World. Someday I’ll go into a dissertation justifying why it’s perfectly acceptable for a 30 year old woman without kids to love Disney World for those not in the know, but just suffice to say it’s fun, I’m not ashamed of it, and you should totally go — without kids — some time.
Anyway, I’ve noticed that there are a few things that are perfectly acceptable within the borders of the Walt Disney World Resort that would at least get a raised eyebrow up to a call to the police/EMTs/nearest psychiatrist if you did it in the real world.
1.Eating dinner with a mouse, bear, rat, and alien.
1a. Eating breakfast, including sausage and bacon, in front of a pig.
2. Grown men proudly wearing a cartoon mouse on their clothing.
2a. Or entire families wearing matching tie-dyed shirts.
3. Putting ears on anything that doesn’t, or even does, move.
3a. In a similar vein, grown adults walking around, without shame, wearing mouse ears.
(Image Source: The OC Register)
4. Wearing a cloth necklace with hundreds of dollars of cheap trinkets attached to it that have no value in any other place or time.
4a. Or on your hat.
5. Having a pair of overgrown chipmunks fight over your love and attention.
6. Having a medieval castle at the end of a street from turn-of-the-century middle America.
(Image Source: JamboEveryone)
(Image Source: Mearn)
7. Talking to actors playing characters without being able AT ALL to acknowledge that they’re playing characters.
8. Telling a duck wearing a wild west outfit that he’s #1.
9. Bitching that a huge Yeti is apparently more interested in disco dancing than swiping at you to kill you.
(Image Source: Main Street Gazette)
10. Walking around in a glorified trashbag when it rains.
11. Being totally comfortable with a monster and his female lover.
12. OMG EXCITED THAT A CANDLE IS WAVING AT ME.
13. These guys are ROCK STARS.
At the same time, there are things that are perfectly acceptable in the real world that feels a little weird when it’s done at Walt Disney World:
1. Ogling scantily clad women. Dude — she’s a cartoon character. It’s weird. Stop. Same goes for the women practically throwing their panties at Jack Sparrow. Have some shame.
2. Getting intimate with your spouse. After spending 12+ hours talking to a bunch of cartoon characters, it feels a little… inappropriate. (I just convinced every male who reads my blog and has never been to WDW not to go, didn’t I).
There’s not a picture of this. Perv.
I have a tendency to rant in real life over stupid things that I don’t understand. Welcome to my first rant for the blog.
Can someone please explain to me why children (youngin’s I mean, not pre-teens or teenagers) need techno gadgets? I don’t mean those little Leapfrog things that are clearly made specifically for young children, but rather things like cell phones, laptops, and iPads.
For those of you who don’t have children or aren’t around children (which would normally be me), parents and family are apparently buying these things for their little ones. I know because I’ve seen 6 or 7 year olds walking around the grocery store and mall with cell phones — either talking or texting (these kids can barely spell on paper. Is this how we got text speak?). And now my own parents have gotten my 6-year-old nephew an iPad mini for Christmas.
Let me repeat that: My parents got my SIX YEAR OLD nephew an IPAD MINI for Christmas.
I’m sorry, but my 6-year-old nephew does not need an iPad mini. Why in the world would you give a $300 portable machine to a 6-year-old who still thinks that the way to get something to work is to punch it, shake it, or throw it on the ground?
And what’s he even going to do with it? “Sorry Mommy, I can’t take a bath right now. I gotta go FaceTime my peeps and download some AC/DC on iTunes.” He does play on his parents’ iPad a lot but it’s to play Angry Birds (which he is scary good at. He has beaten my high score on my phone a LOT). But all this means is that my parents just bought him a $300 Angry Birds video game.
By the time he’s even old enough to appreciate what he’s got it’s going to be obsolete. There are already apps that don’t work on our first gen iPad because of the advancements in technology FROM TWO YEARS AGO.
And the thing is, I know some of my anger is due to jealously. I don’t have an iPad mini. I don’t have an iPad 3. Or even an iPad 2. I happen to have the first generation iPad which I only have because my Dad gave it to my husband when he upgraded to the iPad 2.
The best piece of technology in my house is my 4-year-old laptop that takes about 20 minutes to boot up and is starting to have an increasingly worrisome amount of blue screens of death. It was one of the first purchases I made with my husband after we got married, and replaced the 4-year-old laptop I had at the time which I used in law school and had been so tough on that the screen of the laptop finally just gave up and separated from the base during my 3rd year. The repair guy who fixed it stated he had never seen one completely separate like that before.
I bet I was easier on that laptop than my nephew will be on his iPad mini.
Driving through my neighborhood these days makes me feel like the laziest person on earth. We have a bunch of decoration overachievers in my neighborhood where people put out these really elaborate and beautiful holiday displays — in a classy way (uh, mostly), remember my HOA. I haven’t taken any pictures of the Christmas decorations, but enjoy this set of Halloween displays (I try to make this blog timely for you guys!):
Now remember this is for Halloween. The Christmas decor gets ramped up by about 10x the light and decoration power.
Last year I was so excited to be in my first house that we went all out and really tried to decorate the place up. We still didn’t do even half of what others in my neighborhood did, but I was proud of how my house looked.
This year, I’ve just been… eh. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas, but I just don’t have the same enthusiasm for some reason. Last weekend I got out a box of Christmas decorations and put up the stocking holders, a gold glittery reindeer I love, and a ceramic Christmas tree and was spent.
Now, I’m even questioning whether or not to put up a Christmas tree.
You see, we don’t own a Christmas tree. For the first three years of my marriage, my husband and I lived in a house my parents owned. It’s their retirement house and while they don’t live there because they haven’t retired yet, it’s on a lake and it’s where they come to vacation. They have a fake Christmas tree that all of us put up and decorate every Thanksgiving so I’ve never had to own a Christmas tree before. My husband and I intended to buy one last year, but then the entire family went on vacation over Christmas so we didn’t bother since we wouldn’t actually be in our house on Christmas Day.
This year it’s different. I keep looking for a fake tree to get, but I’m a huge Christmas tree snob and I haven’t found one that I think looks full or real enough that doesn’t cost $500. I started thinking about just buying a real tree, but then I was watching the news and they were talking about how the problem with real Christmas trees is that they can come infested with bugs and there’s pretty much nothing I hate more than bugs. All bugs. I’m an equal opportunity bug hater.
Plus when we went to go look at Christmas trees I couldn’t find one that looked as good as the nice fake Christmas trees. Isn’t that sad? Then I start thinking about having to hang the lights and ornaments and put out the Christmas tree skirt that I don’t even know where it is because it probably never got unpacked from the move and I don’t even know where I’d put a stupid tree in my house and I’m just exhausted now.
So now I’m facing a prospect of not having a Christmas tree. We don’t have kids and will probably spend Christmas Day at my parent’s lake house with the family, so I’m not feeling that sense of urgency. But I still feel like I’m a total Scrooge and loser for not having one. I’m having an existential crisis over here.
I wish I could just buy a fake tree already decorated that I can take straight from the box and put up. Does anyone know whether such a thing exists? Oh, I’ll just check Amazon.
P.S. Ha, ha, already decorated trees totally exist. Oh, Amazon, I love you.
Because I’m sure there is nothing fake-looking about a tree that you put up like this:
(image source: BrylaneHome, for all of your pop-up tree needs)