Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas

We are not a Norman Rockwell family.
And our Christmases are not traditional.

Drew and I spend Thursday night (the 23rd) Christmas shopping. He still had a few people left that wanted to buy for, and I really needed to just get started. So we did a marathon session that lasted 4 hours. FOUR hours. From the time I got off work til we couldn’t take one more minute of walking, looking, thinking, buying.

At one point, I was more than ready to just hand out cheques in nicely decorated envelopes when Drew said, “Mom, do you have any cash? I need $5. Maybe more if there’s tax.”
“I don’t have much cash on me, sweets. I can pay for your gift with Visa when I pay for the stuff I’m buying.”
“NO. I found something for you. I want to pay for it by myself. Can I have some money?”
I found a wrinkled up $10 at the bottom of my purse and handed it to him.
“Don’t look. Don’t even watch. No one will steal me. I’m fine. Go over there and wait, OK?”
I went to the back of the store, but kept an eye on the exits, just in case…
“Here’s your change.” He said proudly at he hid the bag behind his back.
“I got a deal. She asked me if I’d like a discount, so I said, uh, OK. So she said all I had to do was sign my name and write my postal code. I told her I didn’t know my postal code, so I guess I wouldn’t get the discount. But she said she’d put down a fake one, all I’d have to do was sign my name. But I don’t really have a signature, my handwriting isn’t too good, but she said that was OK, just scribble anything, so I did. And so it only cost me $2.99”

He came with me to the til area as I made my purchases, and pointed out the clerk who was so helpful to him. She was a young, attractive and friendly looking.
“I was in this line first.” He says as we stand in aisle 2. “But the lady who was buying something in front of me got all mad about something and she started to yell at the cashier. I didn’t know what to do, she looked mean. Then that lady told me I could go into her line. And she gave me a deal…”

He was smiling from his heart, happy to have found (another) perfect gift for me.
And that inspired me to keep on truckin’. Even if it took every last ounce of energy in my possession, I would continue shopping.

When we got home at 8:30, Clint and Max met us with the question, “What’s for dinner?”
I turned around and headed for the truck. “Can someone help me? I need to do some grocery shopping. And I need help.”
“I’m not going.”
“Neither am I.”
“Drew, you go.”
“OK. I’ll help you mom.”
So he and I shopped some more. And, because he agreed to help, he got to choose the menu for our Christmas Eve dinner.
“Let’s have a fondue.”

By the time we got home again, it was 9:30.
Again, I was asked, “What’s for dinner?”
There are days when I really wish there was one other adult in my home. An almost 18 year old son is not even close.

We ate Kraft dinner and BBQ chicken at 10:15 pm.

“Can we open our presents first thing in the morning?” Drew asks with excitement.
“Uhh. Nothing is wrapped yet, hon. I was thinking we’d sleep in tomorrow, have a laid back afternoon, an early dinner, go to church for the Christmas Eve service, then open your presents before I take you to dad’s.”

“But tomorrow is our Christmas Day with you. Christmas is always about opening presents first thing. Please?”

I wrapped presents til 2 am.
We opened them a few hours later, at 10 am on Christmas Eve.
“Thanks mom. What time are we going to dad’s?”
Then Clint played Nintendo. Max played on Clint’s computer. Drew played on our computer. For 6 hours.
Merry Christmas, O style.

Later in the afternoon, Max n I took a bunch of bottles and cans to the recycling depot. “I get the money.” Max announces.
I’m not going to argue with him. He loaded them into bags and put them in the truck for me. I’m happy to have him along. Drew asked if Max could share it with him, but Max wasn’t in the mood. “No.” was his curt reply.

A few hours later, we arrived at church on time and clean. The ‘dressing nice’ concept has not been accepted yet as an option. It’s a negotiating variable. Tonight I settled for shampooed hair, showered bodies and clean boxers. Maybe some day they’ll find pleasure in dressing nice. It’d suck if it was at my funeral.

Anyway, half way through the service, there’s a special offering for a family in our congregation. As the velvet bags are being passed around, Drew whispers to me, “I want to give too. Max is giving all the recycling money. Do you have some money in your wallet?”
I glance over at Max, and sure enough, he’s taken the money out of his pocket and is waiting to put it in the offering. All of it.
I guess it doesn’t matter that he likes to wear t-shirts and ripped jeans to church.

WE finally got around to having our first ever family fondue at 9 pm. We heated the oil on the stove first, then transferred it into the cast iron fondue pot I received for Christmas last year. We lit the flame beneath, and settled in for hours of meat eating. (Chicken, steak, sausage and hamburger balls.) I went through the motions of preparing potatoes and putting fresh veggies on the table, but… really, this meal was about meat. Lots of it. Deep fried meat. Cooked over a real flame. A manly meal.

I think I should have fired up a propane torch instead. That wimpy lil fondue flickering flame did not keep the oil hot. In fact, it did not keep the oil warm. The four of us each stuck in 2 forks full of meat apiece. And waited for the sizzling and spackling to begin.

By 10 pm we unplugged the Christmas lights in the backyard and brought in the extension cord. We transferred the oil to an electric frying pan which we set up in the middle of the kitchen table. We turned it up to 450 degrees, tilted it on an angle (by placing videos under one side) so there would be a “deep end”, and put it our colour-coded forks. Five minutes later we all had hot oil burns on our forearms and hands from all the bubbling, popping oil.
And shortly after that we just plain sick of oil laden, deep fired meat.

Merry Ho Ho.

Next year Max is in charge.
I’m guessing he’s gonna want to pick up drive through food from A&W.

Hoping your Christmas is warm and bubbly,
Love Jane

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