Let’s see how long this post gets. And to make it clear who I’m talking about, I will try to refer to my John has John VIII, his dad as John VII, and his grandfather as John VI.
Tom and Tania arrived just around 9pm, right on time. Toni (John VII’s sister) sent lobsters as her Christmas present to John (VII) and Pat. I’ve had lobster before, but I think it was just the tail. And I’ve had lobster meat before, of course. I like lobster. I’m saying all this because I’ve never had someone drop a whole lobster on my plate before. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, though, since I’ve eaten crabs like that and I love crab legs. Wait – I really should have seen this coming. I don’t eat whole crabs anymore because I freaked myself out about it a long time ago. My freshman year in college, on a retreat in Delaware with the Troubadours, we were eating crabs. Someone had shown me how to get into the shell and pointed out what to eat and what not to eat. By my third crab, I realized that I had probably eaten some of what I wasn’t supposed to eat, and I was no longer sure what was safe and what wasn’t. So I got kind of grossed out and decided not to eat whole crabs anymore. Anyway, I figured that since that episode was more than 11 years ago, and since I had plenty of veteran lobster eaters around me, I could handle whole lobsters. I got up close and looked in the box and saw that they were, in fact, still alive, and I watched John (VII) drop them in the pot. And then we watched the pots and heard the lobsters rattling around in there. That was all kind of fascinating, and I’m pretty sure it did not contribute to me wussing out later.
Dinner was served, and all of a sudden my plate had a big lobster on it, looking up at me. I had no problem pulling the claws off and apart (just like crab legs, right?), and I pulled the tail off just fine. But then I looked inside the body of the lobster and I realized I just couldn’t dig around in there and sort out what to eat and what not to eat and not think about what exactly what it was. I started to turn a little green, and Emily and Molly helped me give the body off to someone else. I did finish the tail, but John (my John, wonderful husband that he is) got the meat out for me. I just totally wussed out. As a general rule, I’ve realized that I just can’t eat something that comes out to me whole. My shrimp can’t have heads or legs, my crabs need to be legs or meat only, I know I don’t want my fish to come out whole, and I don’t think I could ever eat one after gutting it. I don’t think that’s weird or too much to ask, so I’m pretty sure I can get through most of my life like this. Without making a big deal of it. I may have some issues in Asian countries (that’s where I developed my rules about shrimp and whole fish), but I’ll deal with them as they come up.
Christmas this year lost a lot of its urgency, thanks to Molly being almost 16. She wasn’t even the first person up! We all rolled downstairs in our pajamas a little after nine. Everyone got tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, and we opened our stockings around the kitchen table. Among the other little odds and ends that show up in those, John got some tools (midget screwdrivers and stuff), I got a Starbucks gift card (Woo!), and Pat got a new hair dryer. Yes, Emily stuck a hair dryer in her mother’s stocking.
We moved into the family room to open presents. Having only spent Christmas with this family, I don’t know how it’s done anywhere else, but here, one present gets opened at a time. There’s no particular order (we don’t go from youngest to oldest or anything like that), but each person opens a present while everyone else watches, and then it’s someone else’s turn. It takes a really long time, but what else are we going to do on Christmas Day? Besides, this way everyone can see what everyone else got, too. I like it. Rose (otherwise known as Grandma) was staying with the family for the week, and every time we handed her a present she’d say, “Oh, is this for me, too? Really, you shouldn’t have.” It was funny, genuine, and very grandmotherly.
Remember how John and I decided we weren’t going to buy anything big for each other? Well, he didn’t listen. In his defense, although he gave the present to me, it’s really for us, so it’s kind of like we bought ourselves a big present. Kind of. I forgive him, though, ’cause he bought me a electronic drumset! SO cool. We should have time (and room) to set it up this weekend. I’m so excited!
We finished opening presents sometime after noon, and we finally had breakfast around 12:30 (I think). I don’t really remember how we spent the rest of that day. I went for a short run around 3pm and we watched Stepbrothers that night, but the rest of the day? Well, there was Christmas dinner, of course, that evening. Pat made roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, and it was delicious, as usual.
Stepbrothers, however, was not delicious. It’s a Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly movie, so we went into it with certain expectations. I really really really wish that Pat, Rose, and John VII hadn’t seen it. I’m sure they feel the same way. There are parts that became even more disturbing because they were watching, too. I laughed a couple of times, but it was mostly stupid without being funny. And I’m not sure we watched it on Christmas Day. Could have been Friday night. We watched Love Actually either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Not sure which. That, of course, was wonderful.
On Friday, Toni and Susan (John VII’s sisters) came to visit. They brought John VI (Granddaddy, or as he signed his card to me, “The Old Man B”). We exchanged a few gifts (Susan has been learning how to knit, and she made everyone winter hats! They’re really cute and totally wearable.) and had lunch together. Jim (Toni’s husband) couldn’t come because he had to stay home to take care of the new lab puppy (adorable!). After they left and we all cleaned up, we took the opportunity to get out of the house (and help Pat) and headed to Wegman’s. She needed some things for Saturday’s lunch/dinner with the Baches.
John (VIII), Emily, Molly, and I piled into our car and headed for the store. We found everything on Pat’s list and bought that on her card (Emily had it), but then we decided to buy dinner on us. Pat had been cooking nonstop since before we got there and she still had more to do, so we figured the least we could do is buy dinner for her. Then no one has to cook and the clean-up is easy. So we went to the pizza shop at Wegman’s and ordered three pizzas. Their pizza is really pretty good.
On Saturday, Bob and Barbara, Kristin and Tony (her husband), and Holly and Tim (her boyfriend) all came over. More food, more visiting. Holly had everyone in her family decked out in LaCoste gear (she works for the company). Everyone seemed pretty happy and is doing fairly well. I’m supposed to send Barbara the recipe for peppermint bark. They were in the car for a few extra hours on the way home because of fog, and that’s all they had to eat. Apparently they liked it, since she asked how to make more. After we cleaned up from that visit, someone found video from John’s graduation, our wedding, our rehearsal dinner, and Vincent’s 80th birthday party. So we watched those for a while and then we finally gave in to Molly’s pleas that we play Cranium with her. We had three teams. Officially, Molly and John (VIII) were on a team, Emily and John VII were another team, and Tom and I were the third team. Unofficially, John VI was on Emily and John VII’s team until he got tired of it, Pat joined my team with Tom for a while, and Tania floated in the background and joined in occasionally. It was a lot of fun (as usual), but we were doing really badly for a while! (We being everyone except Emily and John VII, who kicked our butts and won the game.)
Sunday was a little rushed, mostly because no one wanted to get out of bed. We were all going out to breakfast, so John and I packed the car so we’d be able to hit the road from the diner. This diner was about 15 miles east of the house, and it was really cool. The waitress was hilariously grumpy. We had a good breakfast, said our goodbyes, and started our drive home. We were trying to get home with enough time to unload the car and then pick up the dogs (it was packed solid with stuff, and there was no way the dogs would fit). We were cutting it kind of close, so John dropped me off at the kennel to get the dogs checked out. He went home, threw everything into the house, and came back to get us. Oh, besides the drumset, the other thing that took up all the room in the car was the box full of 8 folding chairs (and fancy covers) John (VII) and Pat bought us for Christmas! It’s a great present. Pat knew that everytime we host a holiday, we rent chairs so we have enough seats for everyone. I hadn’t thought ahead to New Year’s yet, so this was a perfectly timed, perfectly practical gift. I don’t have to ask our friends to bring chairs like I had to do for Thanksgiving.
Anyway, we got home safe and sound. And, since it was our anniversary (8 lovely years, thank you very much), we got sushi and DQ blizzards to go and ate in our living room while watching Mad About You episodes. Thanks for the sushi, Mom and Dad!
We’re totally exhausted and looking forward to our next weekend. At least work this week isn’t too taxing. And thankfully, Roxy timed her seizure last night for 9:45, not 2am. She always has a seizure within three days of coming home from the kennel. I don’t know if it’s the stress (or lack of stress since she’s home now) or if maybe they’re not giving her the medicine correctly, but she’s had seizures after coming home from the kennel (any kennel) since she started having them in the first place.
Well. I’m at almost 2000 words here, which is a bit ridiculous for one post. But it’s all out of my system now. It was a very good, very pleasant, very busy visit. And now I need to rest.