Christmas Vacation 2018, Days Six and Seven - Christmas and Day of the False Departure

1) Mother and I ended up not having a Christmas dinner at all as planned, but after our very nice surprise visit with the neighbors, we each had a big ol’ NAP, and barely even exchanged a gift each before the arrival of the Tylers. The gift from me that Mother opened was a new-edition Scrabble dictionary; the gift from her I opened was a small brass easel on which to stand small pictures or plates for display.

1a) We usually exchange one gift apiece on Christmas morning, but somehow we didn’t do that this year.

2) I was just about to get into the tub for a Big Soak when I got a call from Laura that they were half an hour away. So I changed course for the shower and could emerge freshly clean and pressed almost as soon as they arrived via motorcycle and van.

3) Youger Nephew Who Must Not Be Tagged and his wife had not joined earlier Christmas Day festivities due to work commitments, but they were able to join us eventually so that we could commence exchanging gifts. Among other things I got a small thick blank book embossed with a Buddha and with a complicated brass lock, a small black Japanese “happy cat” figurine,” a T-shirt with the entire text of Alice in Wonderland printed on it around a design of the White Rabbit, a copy of How Not to Be a Dick: An Everyday Etiquette Guide, a very very dark plaid shirt, and a thick cream-colored scarf that had belonged to my grandmother (and which is perfect to wear with both my gray overcoat and my black cape.)

4) We moved on to Christmas supper of ham chowder prepared by Niece Who Must Not Be Tagged. I now sit in my daddy’s place at the head of the table; this year the children were in the four seats closest to me, and they really speak their own language. It’s like my own language of lines from Movies of the Golden Age of Hollywood, only their cultural references come from places I don’t even know. Later they showed me a compilation of Vines on the Yewtybbe, so now at least I know where “An avocado!” comes from.

5) The household wound down early, but I stayed up until after 10 PM, only to pass a fitful night - not unusual on the night before flying.

6) Up at 7 AM, and Laura and I took off for the mall after a catch-as-catch-can breakfast so I could snatch up a particular gift for someone at ye Dyllyarde’s. My brother-in-law took off even before we left on his motorcycle to beat the rain.

7) Now I am just not one of those people who beat down the doors to go to after-Christmas sales, but there was something I particularly had my eye on, and Laura was game, God bless her. My goodness, the excitement of the two dozen or so ladies assembled at the entrance when the doors opened! And to my dismay, they were all headed to the department where I, too, was headed. But there was no cutthroat atmosphere, all quite friendly. I found what I was looking for - and then my head went completely blank.

8) Laura and I retreated for coffee at ye Styrbyckke’s and got to catch up on family and other stuff. We made a tour of the mall looking for shoes for Mother and getting a few ideas.

9) En route home, as we circumnavigated the rotary from Prien Lake onto Holly Hill, I unintentionally started a debate on some of the Big Social Issues by mentioned that they should put a statue on the hillock at the center of the rotary.

10) And indeed, the mood had become very end-of-holiday as I turned my focus onto packing all my gifts and clothes, stripping the bed and getting a load of wash in, and all those other necessary tasks.

11) Niece and Mother prepared lunch - mostly the menu Mother and I were going to enjoy for our Christmas dinner - for which Oldest Nephew Who Must Not Be Tagged joined us. My niece did a great job!

12) All the women in the house went off to buy shoes, leaving me on my own to finish packing, bathe, and sort through the conservative junk mail. I think I put over two dozen envelopes in the mail.

13) The weather had turned to rain - I never like flying in bad weather - and when we got to the airport, I didn’t let the family come in to see me get checked in or wait around. Mother really likes to do this, so she was disappointed. The airline staff were very friendly as usual, and even showed me how to download the airline’s app onto my phone. “You’ll probably get updates before we will,” they said . . . which was prescient, since about 20 minutes later I got an update on the app that my flight was cancelled! I made a beeline to the counter, where they rebooked me on the first flight out Thursday.

14) About 20 minutes later the family retrieved me, and off we went to Y*** S***, the Chinese restaurant closest to Mother’s house, where she and Daddy used to go.

15) Back at home, Laura trounced both Mother and me at Scrabble. Indeed, I turned out to be the beetlebomb. Whom the gods destroy, they first give all the letters for a perfect Q word without the Q.

16) Dead beat, I headed off to bed at the ridiculous hour of 8:15 PM, only to wake up at midnight - and to learn that my rebooked flight has also been cancelled, and I have now been ticketed (but without a seat) on the midday flight. I love traveling safely, and I am grateful for all the air traffic controllers and ground crews and pilots and co-pilots and airline staff who keep us all safe when we fly. But it’s also time to get home to Boston, and I am hoping the weather, and the confusion, will clear sufficiently for that to happen both safely and NOW.