After a few fights, a couple glasses of wine, a visit from the neverending neighbor, and a case of Diet Coke (the true spirits of the American family), the Pittman family managed to get to get dressed in our finest attire, attend the Christmas Eve Candlelight service, get our pictures taken and get into bed.
Of course, I have to get you to this point of sugarplums dancing in dreams first. Santa comes tonight, and I've got to get my last bits of goodness out, not to mention the naughty. And so it goes.
As you'll remember, Christmas began shortly before Halloween this year with the decoration change in department stores completely skipping Thanksgiving. The inability to find decorations for the current holiday to hang at your Halloween party due to the display of decorations for the holiday after next, may be indicative that we in America have gone a little overboard with the Christmas thing.
But I'm not a hater. I love Christmas. I politely wait until the day after Thanksgiving to turn on my lights (even if they're hung before), I always abbreviate X-Mas with the understanding that I'm not X-ing Christ out of Christmas, only using the original Greek symbol for his name; I even drink the eggnog (store bought) and don't think twice about the calories.
Neither do I mind the shopping. I admit, this year I had trouble thinking of things for my list. Working in downtown Austin can make one a little self-conscious about asking for things. And since in over two years I still haven't gotten over the fact that the paychecks keep coming in (who knew?) I feel overly blessed.
But after Mother's third menacing phone call, I mustered up a list and have been adding to it ever since.
"How will I know what to get you if you don't ask for a new car, Ann?" she threatened, making fun of the fact that every year since I was 16, I asked for a car for Christmas. Very funny mom. So I put a Vespa on my Christmas list as a joke.
Unfortunately, if any year I should have asked for a car, it's this one.
Four hours outside of Austin, my car overheated.
Did I take it in to a groovy shop that shall remain anonymous (ahem!) for this very problem not five days earlier when my car overheated on the way to a nursing home? Yes I did. Did they put in a new radiator and radiator cap? Yes they did. Did they do a 72 point check and write down all the things wrong with my car that they found? Yes they did. Did they strongly suggest I get a new battery before I drove to Missouri? Yes they did. Did I buy one at Wal-Mart the day before I left? Yes I did.
Do I have a car now? No I don't.
Because it overheated, burnt the engine and died on the access road just outside of Fort Worth.
"Do you want McDonald's for breakfast or IHOP?"
"Um... McDonald's I guess. IHOP will take too long and if we do McDonald's we will make it by dinner to St. Joe."
"K." We begin to pull off the highway. "Uh... the car... it's hot... it's..."
After pushing the car into IHOP's parking lot and eating the breakfast I hadn't chosen, I began the arduous task of calling my parents.
"Mom, my car is broken. Get on the internet and figure out where I am."
Fortunately, my old friend from Seminary was raised in Fort Worth, so I called her. She called her dad who called a friend who eventually recommended Christian Brothers Autobody Shop. Then I called a tow truck. Then a cab.
Because I had two cats, a dog and a boyfriend stowed away in my car. I kid you not. And the tow truck had a two "people" max for it's cab and refused to "tow" anything living.
I thought the cab driver was going to crap his pants when I started tossing cats into his car, but he sucked it up and dropped us off. In I waddled into the autobody shop with Zorba, Potter and Janie.
When the mechanic came to talk to me about my car, he didn't do it from behind the counter as his did with everyone else who came in during the FOUR HOURS I sat in that shop. Rather, he came out the door into the waiting room, sat on the couch next to me and said remorsefully, "I have some bad news."
Long story short, we arrived in tact in St Joe around 10:30pm on Friday in a rental car without a CD player. "That's okay," encouraged Grandma, "You and your boyfriend can sing together, and talk, and really get to know each other."
Yep, great. Like a freaking CD player would have been too much to ask for after emerging from Hell.
"I was hoping you left Zorba at the mechanic's," Mother said over the phone.
The cats have been locked in my room ever since because my sister's psycho dog scared the begeezus out of them when we walked into the house.
The other sister was having a party.
I walked into the kitchen after five days of lying ill in bed, two days on the road, $1000 on the credit card, after losing my car and after losing my mind (but not crying once the whole day), and I looked at all those 22 and 23 year olds in their swank clothes sipping on rum and cider, and sighed. "Will someone please get me a beer?"
Fortunately, things have managed to move up from that point. God graced my merciless travels with 6 inches of snow (consequently ruining the travels of the rest of the county) the morning after I arrived. Church was cancelled (hallelujah and forgive me Jesus) the next day the boyfriend who's never seen snow, the sister who never fails to rekindle her childhood, the neverending neighbor and I all went sledding. Amazing. About halfway through we realized that if someone stood at the bottom of the hill and called out to Amy's dog Sophie, she would tear down the hill with us on the leash and the sled behind her, thus doubling our speed and our sheer terror. It was awesome. I haven't done that since college.
And Christmas with the extended family went off without a hitch too. No one brought up Jesus or George Bush, so we all got along fairly well.
With no Sunday morning Church there was no way my sisters and I could get out of going to the service tonight despite our pleas to watch movies, eat out and open gifts. It was another winner, with the man in front of us moving over one seat to avoid my coughs and my mother refusing to allow me to go to the restroom during the prayer to get a tissue for my nose. Amy fell asleep, and Emily snorted, stifling laughter, when the smell of calliflower fart drifted our way. I got tired of waiting for the minister to tell us to eat the bread and drink the cup during communion, so I put my wafer in my mouth to get the ball rolling. With one eye on the family minister, my sisters and mother did the same which resulted in more stifled laughter from the youngest when she realized we were out of sync with the rest of the congregation.
These are not all the terribly normal and terribly disfunctional stories I have from my Christmas vacation thus far, but the confessions have begun and processing it now may save me some therapy time later. :) I will keep you posted for sure.
I just hope Santa still shows up.