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Christmas Bonding Time (or a Kick in the Head)

In years past, I’ve held solitary gift wrapping marathons on Christmas Eve night when everyone else is asleep. Surrounded by wrapping paper, cats, a dog, and drinking copious amounts of hot chocolate, coffee, or Baileys (depending on my mood), while quietly listening to Christmas tunes, I would wrap and wrap and wrap like I was a demented cute little elf applying for the Head Elf job at Santa’s North Pole.

Well this year, since the kids are older and sneaking peeks into presents is no longer an issue (I think…), and the whole “Santa secret” has long been out of the bag, and more importantly, I suddenly found myself with some spare time…a unique dilemma I don’t often face, I decided to wrap presents a little early. It goes without saying that it was still somewhat of a chaotic undertaking.

My 23-year old son joined me for this manic tradition. Jake was impressed with my mad gift wrapping skills….I mean, my corners on those presents are tight!

Thinking I was clever, I mentioned his age and then bragged to him that of course I’m good at it because I’ve been enjoying this Christmas custom for at least 23 years. It took about 10 seconds for those words to leave my mouth before it hit me. I’ve been doing this for 23 years. And just like that…. I’m old. Damn.

 

wrapping presents

Thanksgiving Madness

Ahhhh, the end of November. You know what that means. Thanksgiving is ready to spill its bountiful cornucopia all over us. Are you ready for the psychological obstacle course known as Thanksgiving dinner? Just like evergreen trees are to Christmas, gaudy cakes are to birthdays, pastel eggs are to Easter, and candy hearts are to Valentine’s Day, the family meal centered around turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce defines the holiday of Thanksgiving — yet it’s rarely as benign as a chalky pink piece of candy that says BE MINE.

Don’t get me wrong, I love having the generations all gathered around one table to laugh, share, and love. I love my family. Not only do I love them, they’re a hoot. Where do you think I get it from? But often coming along for the heartwarming ride is the knowledge that over wine, green bean casserole, and Haas Gooey Cake, I get to be put on trial yet again for that thing (or two or three) I did god knows how many years ago. And by this point so many of the stories brought up are so old that there’s probably more imagination in their re-telling than actual fact. Or so I like to say anyway. I mean, no one could be that bad when they were young, could they?

Thankfully, the holiday spirit that envelopes my family is plenty big enough to wash over many and my brother is often also the object of ridicule at these joyous functions. Believe me; I’m only too glad to share in the glow of the dinner table spotlight. Topics that are often revisited have to do with our childhood and our inspired attempts at killing each other or our driving our mother insane. I tell you, I cannot wait until my children are old enough for this holiday tradition and I can start to tell stories on them. Although quite frankly, looking back on it, I think my mother just has way more material to work with. Poor woman.

This Thanksgiving, to add to the joy, we’re going to throw three dogs into the mix as well. Oh, big deal you might say. Well, these dogs haven’t met yet, and being in my family, of course each one has its own little quirks…doggy eccentricities let’s say.

One of them is a mammoth of a German Shepherd puppy named Resi who is absolutely flippin’ adorable but a little shy and new to the family. She’ll have to quickly learn to hold her own against two brutal hell-hounds. They’re not the mighty, snarling beasts like at the end of Ghostbusters, but as you regular readers will know, my Rufus and Petra can be just as vicious as Zool’s protectors even if they are only about 5 pounds each with limited reach. They’ve fended off their fair share of UPS drivers through the window I’ll have you know, and I’ve yet to be murdered in my sleep, or taken hostage by the mailman thanks solely to my diminutive four-legged protectors.

Despite her size, Resi is still young and she’s afraid of new things, bless her heart. And when she sees a dreaded “new thing,” she tends to stand there and bark at it as puppies so often do. But so far, these new things haven’t been able to hop around and generally be annoying. Her encounters have been more on the inanimate side, like sculptured pigs sitting on an end table and the like. Well, that’s about to change.

Rufus really wants nothing more than to be friends with his four-legged cohorts, yet he has absolutely no sense of boundaries with other dogs so will do whatever he can to coerce them to play whether his attentions are wanted or not. He’s like that annoying little weasel who tries to steal chickens in the Looney Tunes cartoons who just won’t give up.  Or the kid whose name you learn in the restaurant because the mother is constantly “Rufus stop that, Rufus get down, Rufus leave him alone, Rufus stop licking her in the face for goodness sake!”

Petra, like Resi, is sometimes fearful of new things, and when she’s afraid, she also stands there and barks. Oh joy. I can see hear it now. “Battle of the Barks.” She has the additional quirk of wanting to burrow and hide when she’s very afraid. Under what, it doesn’t matter. Under furniture (whether she fits is irrelevant), under blankets, under people. Under something, under anything.

If our dinner table stays upright, I’ll eat my hat. I’m definitely taking bets on all hell breaking loose and the turkey going airborne. I think I may just come out of all this with some decent spending money.

Thinking about what’s to come as I write this blog I’m reminded of one other part of the holidays that I do quite enjoy…drinking. Thanks be to the Holy Spirit for that which is called wine. Without thee I know not what I would do.