Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas '10

So how was Christmas of 2010? A very fine one. Not perfect, mind you, but just swell. As an added bonus, a good portion of December was filled with brisk days and nights. Of course, that did not include Christmas Day itself. Of the 37 or so Christmas Days I've spent in West Palm Beach, I believe 3 of them were chilly to cold. The most memorable was the freeze of 1983, when I was 14. I remember getting up and it was hovering around freezing. The power was out, no Christmas tree lights blinking, but I was in heaven nonethless. My Nordic blood. As I age, I feel it is getting thicker. I told my wife I want to have at least one white Christmas before my time is up.

This year we again logged a lot of miles driving from family to family. Such is life when you have divorced parents. As my father in law has lived in Coral Gables the last 2 years, the driving has become more arduous. I really hate driving to Miami. But, our drive down on Christmas night wasn't too bad. Moderate traffic flow. We had a lovely dinner of rib roast and potatoes and exchanged gifts before a really statisfying sleep. I think my FIL actually liked the fancy shaving tools I got him!

The next day, a fabulous brunch of Indian pancakes (a variation on the adai), fruit, salmon, etc. greeted us. We also visited my FIL's girlfriend's daughter and her family a few miles down the road. We brought their children some nifty (and low-tech) gifts. I mention this for a reason. These kids really loved their presents. You could see it in their enthusiasm. They have not learned the adult art of feigned interest and/or hiding your disappointment.

Quite the contrast from 2 evenings previous, Christmas Eve. That was spent at my mother-in-law's husband's son's place. Gotta clarify these relations, you understand. For the second year in a row, we watched with mild alarm the behavior of their little girl. Spoiled rotten, she is. The gifts we brought her were pushed aside as soon as the wrapping came off. She even made a face! Where's the next one? she all but cried. Ungrateful? About scratches the surface. Her parents, er Santa, had an avalanche of gifts yet to greet her. It is not known if the little tyke was ever satisfied by the Big Morning. Disturbing and sad. Our theory is that she has been overexposed and overstimulated with things and "fun". What would you expect to happen if you take the kid to theme parks every month?! I hope I wasn't as bratty when I was 3. I suspect that if I had been, my old school Norwegian father would've reached for the belt. All he had to do was clasp his hands around it to give me a clue.

But going back to the other children. They were calmer, more imaginative, more contented with coloring books and Matchbox cars. They immediately began using these toys as portals to another world. I think it is the upbringing, largely. If we are blessed with children someday, we certainly know what NOT to do.

Christmas weekend also included a low key gift exchange time with my wife (she found a hunter green dress shirt! Huzzah!) and a visit to my mother and grandmother. Mom is stable, still in a rehab. Still in bed. This is a complex topic. I've spoken here before about her fears for recovery. The magnitude of this seems more significant as time goes on. Aside from switching her to a better facility, I don't know how to help her find her motivation. Her faith is still strong, but....this story is still in progress. Again, my mother needs to realize that this is not the last stop on her journey.

But Christmas was a fine time with her. I granted her request for pizza by going to a nearby Domino's, the only place open at reasonable distance. My grandmother was happy to see her, too, as she is unable to get to the facility very much anymore. This is mainly because the friend who drove her nearly every day for 3 years lost her driver's license. This is a blessing, actually, as my grandmother voiced concern over the lady's absent-mindedness behind the wheel of late. Perhaps my grandmother not being able to visit my mother every day will be a motivator for my mother to get up, already.

So now I'm back at this familiar place, the blah days post-Christmas, pre-New Year. Christmas really sneaked up on me this year. It came and went in a flash. This is usually the case. It was a good one, I must say. One that has moments I will reflect upon many years from now, Lord willing. How was yours?

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