Thursday, December 23Worst Christmas Ever.
So, here we go. We have 6 stops in 3 days, and we pull out of Sun Prairie at 10:30am sharp on Friday. We have all the gifts wrapped, the time schedule down, the cars full of gas and the cats properly fed. We're mentally prepared for dealing with people we don't want to talk to, physically prepared for the running around, and have already compiled a list of quick-witted comebacks concerning any of the following:
- Our hair color.
- Being a vegetarian.
- Our marriage thus far.
- Why I wear glasses that I don't need.
- Having a baby.
Truly, this has the makings of the worst Christmas ever. For starters, I've completely alienated one side of my family this year. When I changed my last name, the Olson's sort of got pissed off, even though it was none of their business. I don't know if they're still seething, but I've been doing my best not to pour fuel on the fire. I won't be attending Christmas at the Olson household this year, but I will be stopping by to see my Grandmother on Sunday. I'm doing whatever I can to show her that I'm grateful, while keeping firm that I made the right decision. This is a difficult balance when you're dealing with a family of stubborn Norway folk, but I'm the same exact way.
Enough of that, time for nostalgia. A few things have changed at the Zeinert household, as well. If you look at old Christmas photos taken there, you'd probably not be able to make anything out through the thick fog of cigarette smoke. Somewhere along the line, they finally realized that we were all going to be dead soon if people didn't start smoking outside. It helped make the pictures clearer, and certainly increased our life span. Old photos will also show you more of a rampant alcoholism than now. Sure, the Zeinerts will kick back a beer or glass of wine this weekend, but a picture from 1989 will show you nothing less than a yuletide can pyramid almost rivaling the decorated tree next to it. It was a sight to behold for someone as young as me at the time.
I only miss eating meat on Christmas day. Every year, I would rub my hands with delight waiting for the giant smoked Salmon to be set in the buffet. There it would sit, splayed open like a school science project, being slowly picked and nibbled to death as the day wore on. It was divine. Now I find myself rejecting slices of cheese that may have brushed up against a sausage link, because I'm an asshole. It doesn't mean I'm not enjoying myself, though.
It's funny how random things tend to stick with you. I keep reminding myself of a picture taken of my Cousin Scott, when he was about 6 years old. He had just unwrapped a Sesame Street "Light-n-Learn", and was proudly displaying it for a photograph. There he is, smiling away, holding a box that couldn't be more upside down. It's hilarious. In all of my childhood photos, I just look like I need a sandwich stuffed with Ritalin. It's a shame that the majority of the pictures taken of me were when Don Majikowski was big here in Wisconsin. Was there any particular purpose for shaving lines into the side of your head? Maybe it helped him run faster into football obscurity.
At the Zeinert's, we'd open presents one at a time, youngest first. Once the kids were done, they were sent away to play with what they got, while the adults did their thing. Usually, every year they would all pitch in to get Grandma & Grandpa something nice. It was never hard to make Grandma cry on Christmas. She was usually doing it before we showed up. Coming from a guy who has seen this woman in action on Christmas morning, I'm surprised she even had the energy to cry. If I had the money, I'd buy the 2 of them anything they wanted. I swear to Christ, if I won the lottery tomorrow I'd buy them a new house. Anything without steps to climb. Of course, I didn't win the lottery, so they're going to get something much smaller from me. She'll still cry about it, though.
It's times like this that you become very grateful for the company you keep. I've got my own life now, but on December 25th you get to step back into what you remember as a kid. The idea of tradition states that something is done symbolically every year in honor to something else. In this case, the birth of Jesus, but also the coming together of people you know and love. (For more insight on coming together, visit Boycott Unity.) The notion that I can step back in time every year with the same people on the same day, and be happy, is beautiful.
15 years ago, I would have asked for a video game system. This year, I'm asking for a vacuum cleaner. This year, I get to stick around when the kids have to leave. Each year, I have to wait a little longer to get to my presents. Each year I get less and less, but I enjoy it more and more. When I was younger, I'd take my Christmas money to the mall. This year, I'm using the money to pay off my credit card. This year, I'll pass on the salmon, but I'll have a glass of wine.
It's going to be the best Christmas ever.
(The CDP will return after the holidays.)
Alot of people at my work today were complaining about the worthlessness of gift-receipts. I guess the same things happened to them, too.
I'm so cold.