Today, I took down our Christmas tree and packed away the decorations that were sprinkled around the house. It was hard to do. Usually, I can’t wait to get them down and put away. After all the wonderful festivities are done, typically I am tired and ready to take a rest from the holidays. The clutter of the extra seasonal trinkets, wreaths and Christmas balls start to grind on my nerves and I am ready to start the new year in a clean, clutter free home. This year, however, proved to be the opposite. Even though I have had it with the clutter, taking down the tree meant that all the fun that we had this season was over.
My Christmas season was filled with a whole lot of fun and maybe a few mishaps. Besides the car accident that I witnessed (nobody was hurt), our bathtub faucet in our bathroom freezing, a chip and consequently a crack in the mini-van windshield, a deficit of asthma medicine on a holiday a child meltdown here and there, and a few other missfortunes, we had a glorious time.
Our holiday vacation started out a bit shaky at first. Even though we knew we were going to enjoy ourselves with family and friends, it was hard to leave our house Christmas day with snow and freezing fog on the ground. Every year for the last few years, I have been so lucky to enjoy some whiteness on Christmas day. Our trip was a nice calm one, since most people traveled the day before, leaving the highways virtually deserted. The shaky part came pretty much halfway through the trip. We were happily driving down the interstate when, on the other side we noticed a broken down car. From a distance we could tell that there was someone working on the problem. It must have been a flat tire because there was a man bending over next to the left front tire. As we got closer, it happened all too fast, there was no warning at all. It was if we were seduced by Medusa. Both Roger and I somehow were compelled to look and were blinded by the big, bright-white, full, and I mean FULL moon that man was sporting! What little sight we had left, we were quick to loose since we both instantly scratched our eyeballs out with hopes of erasing the disturbing sight. We then continued to scare and confuse our kids, who were spared from such blinding attack, by our loud and seemingly spontaneous laughter. We couldn’t believe what we just saw. The event left us both wondering if that man even knew at all that his entire bum was exposed as he worked away. It was a cold day, didn’t he notice a draft?
We went on, with just a little extra Christmas cheer to the first party. The place of the party is surrounded by tall pine trees, and outside was a festive fire in the fire pit. Despite the dreary coldness, there was enough family warmth and cheer to make it worthwhile to brave the weather and sit around the fire. I am guessing that it felt just like being on a camping trip to our little guy because after being there for about a half hour I heard, “Hey Laura, look at your son!”. Right there in the front yard, my little boy was peeing! Horrified, all I could do was make some kind of light of the situation and mustered a, “well, at least he has a pretty nice arch to his stream!”.
After a little bit of food and socializing, I quickly forgot about the front yard Christmas christening. It was time for the white elephant gift exchange game. Every Christmas is financially tight, so with this exchange, we decided to just bring one gift for Roger to play, besides, Christmas is all about the feelings, not the gifts, and I had just as much fun watching the exchange as I would playing it. Roger’s aunt, the hostess had a different idea of Christmas spirit. Bless her heart, she made it possible for me to enjoy the fun along with everyone else by throwing a gift in there for me to be able to choose one too.
Our next stop, the final stop for the day was my parents house. When we arrived, the house was decorated nicely for the season with a big tree and stockings hanging on the fireplace. The tree was beautifully decorated by my sister-in-law. I am sure that my parents have her decorate it every year because she is the one with the best sense of style, but I have to laugh (as she does) that they make her, the only Jewish member of the family, decorate the Christmas tree. December 25th is also her birthday, and as my brother (her husband) jokes, “all Jews are born on Christmas”.
Celebrations continued as we went on the next day to visit the in-laws and family. We had to check on the almost life-sized robot pony that Grandma got for the kids. Somehow, someday, that horse will come to our house, but it remains stuck at Grandma’s house because it is so big and we can’t seem to fit all the children in the van if we try to take it with us.
We continued the fun by taking trips to the waterfalls one day, and the zoo another. My brother and his wife were so gracious and treated the kids and me to a zoo trip. Despite the cold, and the fact that some animals retreated to out-of-sight warm shelters, we had a lot of fun. My favorite exhibit was the otter exhibit. The otters were so playful and seemed to put on a show for our benefit. Also, what we didn’t expect, or rather forgotten, was that the zoo lights were still going on, and we were lucky to experience the zoo so beautifully decorated with lights at dark time.
The zoo trip proved to be quite eventful. The last time that I visited the zoo was over six years ago. Back then, they didn’t have a lion exhibit. I had spent a good portion of my day before the trip this time, trying to convince my 4-year-old kiddo that the zoo was fun and that there were no lions that were going to eat him because this zoo didn’t even have them. I was shocked to find that the zoo did indeed have a lion, and hoped that my kiddo didn’t think that I was a liar. As we watched the lion roam around, the kiddo became more and more convinced that the lion wasn’t going to eat him and we noticed how cold it really was. As the lion wandered around, occasionally roaring for us, we could see his breath.
You know, sometimes my timing sucks. I looked away, and when I did, my brother exclaimed, “did you see that? did you see the lion fart?”. Dang! how could I miss such a life event as a visual lion fart? I mean, how many people get to see that? I doubt that even people in Africa where the lions are indigenous get to see such an event because it’s not cold enough to actually see the steam. After watching the lion very closely, I came across some luck, I got my wish and was graced with one more burst of feline flatulence. Just one more experience to check of my bucket list, not that it was on there in the first place.
The zoo events still weren’t over yet, and I was in for just one more shock. I don’t know what to think of it. Perhaps it was funny, but it was definitely no fun at all. We went on to see the lion’s neighbors, the African wild dogs. This exhibit was made to look as if we were inside a cave looking out. What separated us was a panel of very thick plexiglas. As I walked up to the window, I looked briefly behind me at my brother, then back in front of me when, BLAM! I hit the glass with amazing force. Above all the crack and snap sounds that my nose made, I heard my brother say “ooooh”. Did I feel stupid! To make it worse, my eyes started to swell up with tears as if I were crying, something I am sure we all do with a bump to the nose. I could have cried though, because it hurt so bad, but I was in the middle of the zoo, and all eyes were on the dummy who ran into the window. To make it even more inconspicuous, (wink) my nose began to bleed! Now, I am a shy person who hates to be the focus of attention. All of a sudden I was made a spectacle by walking into a window, and now with blood all over my face and hands! I couldn’t help but wonder if the lion could smell it… I started to compose an explanation to my 4-year-old in my mind: “okay, okay, yes your mother is a liar, there is a lion at the zoo, and yes, he does want to eat us because Mommy has blood all over her hands, sooo, run, kid run!”.
I tell you, if you go out, and hit your nose till it bleeds, make sure that you are with parents of an infant. Even better, first time parents with an infant because they pack everything that could possibly be needed in the diaper bag. With a disposable cloth diaper and a couple of diaper wipes, I was all cleaned up and undetectable to the lion. The kiddo could stand down now, no need to run. When we got home to my parents place, I told my Dad the pitiful story, expecting some parental sympathy, like, “oh, I’m so sorry, that must have been horrible!” Nope. No such luck. My wonderful father’s reaction was, “you will probably see yourself on U-Tube by tomorrow morning”. Gee, thanks Dad.
We kept the party going by visiting friends… the ones with the attack cat. This cat doesn’t need a bloody nose like the lion at the zoo, he just wants to eat everyone he encounters. The cat seemed to be calm the night we visited however, maybe he ate a visitor earlier and was full. We all had pizza, and watched our boy fill his pockets full of pennies until his pants fell off… very entertaining I must confess.
The fun ended New Year’s Eve when the kiddos, my sister-in-law and my brother made Hanukkah doughnuts and we all played a good game of Pit before we watched the New Year’s ball drop on TV. Tradition is that we make a bunch of noise at midnight, after the ball drops. When we stepped out of the house, I noticed that everything seemed quiet in the rural neighborhood. That didn’t matter to my oldest, and she let a big loud wail from her Dollar Tree airhorn. That’s when the neighbor’s dog started to bark very loudly. Feeling very guilty, because I was sure that we just woke up a bunch of people, I jumped in the shadows hoping not to be discovered by angry, sleepy neighbors, and started to let off my air horn. Deeming it safe to come out of the shadows, I creeped out when the oldest let out another loud, hooooooonk! What? I was most certainly going to get discovered! So I ran to the other side of the house and hid in the shadows again. After a few times of trying to surface quietly, but getting busted by my kiddo, I finally made a run for it, safe and sound into the back door with no bullet holes to boot! A very good start to the new year, I must say.
Now the excitement is over. The decorations and the tree are gone, we left the full moon and lion farts behind. It’s time to start new. I wonder what fun things are ahead?