Yesterday was fun, I still have Christmas pictures to share. But I want to tell you about Christmas Eve. That’s where the real story is*.
*Ummmm….I might have gone overboard with the build-up, there. Anyway.
I planned to pack up and leave around eight in the morning. My night vision is poor, at best, and I wanted to arrive in full sun. So, of course, around nine o’clock the night before it started to snow….and snow….and snow. Even though it was dumping, the storm was only supposed to last a few hours. I went to bed with full knowledge that I probably wasn’t going to leave until somewhere around eleven. But Papa Bear and I were enjoying one another’s company, and so that was just fine with me.
Did I say we were going to leave around eleven? Of course, this means that we left around noon. Then, we were be bopping down the road (to about sixty of the world’s best Sunday school songs) for almost twenty minutes before I realized I’d forgotten to pack my vitamins. Because I’m planning to be gone for a week or two, I made the painful decision to turn around.
And, so, it was really more like one when we left town. Sigh.
Everything went well for awhile, even though vomit was threatened about ten minutes in. I’d let my cupboards go bare, in preparation for the trip, so I stopped at a gas station and bought individual sized bags of trail mix. I swear, you’ve never seen any kids more excited over snack food.
I know how to get to my mother-in-law’s house. I’ve driven there a dozen times. It’s been a while since I’ve been the one behind the wheel, though. And because I prefer another route to the one Papa Bear usually drives, I decided to print (actually, look up and copy down) some directions. I noticed that they were not exactly the directions I was looking for (meaning they were for a route I’d never taken), but they seemed to avoid the city traffic, and that’s really all I was after.
I drove along, happily, never looking at the directions because I only needed them for the last half-hour of the trip. Then, when I did need them, I reached right for the paper like a war veteran reaching to scratch a missing limb. Of course, it wasn’t there. “Oh my gosh!!!” I yelled out loud because as much as I don’t like driving at all, I really don’t like being lost. And yes, I know that is irrational on both counts and it’s not like I was lost in the wilderness. Welcome to just another aspect of my crazy mind. My right arm began thrashing about as if it was a separate entity and, although completely misguided, was frantically trying to help. Try as it might, though, it simply could not find that damnable piece of manuscript paper with black Sharpie scribbles and some crayon for good luck. I realized that (before someone called the cops on the lunatic mother who was flipping a lid while driving) I was going to need a plan B. I began calmly reciting the exits I remembered, and I was fairly certain I’d remember the others when I saw them. I’d just make it as far as I could, and then I’d pull over and allow my entire body to look for the map.
Here’s the thing that really bugs me, city planners, and y’all feel free to chime in if you are with me on this one. But why, oh why do so many streets in the same town need to be named THE SAME THING? It’s why I think housewives should rule the world. We’d never pay $100 for something that should cost $5, and all the street names would be alphabetical and unique. But I digress. After pulling over three different times, I finally found the directions. Oh, right after the kids sang a loud and harmonious chorus of, “We wish Daddy was here. Daddy would never get lost.” Of course, I agreed with them on both counts.
About five minutes after finding the directions, we arrived in Grammie’s driveway. It was very dark, by this point, and I tried to convince the kids that we were just driving around looking at Christmas lights (they didn’t buy it). As it turns out, I had gotten us really close. I lugged our bags inside and then stood in the kitchen with my face buried in a bowl of chicken stir-fry. Then I corralled the kids (who were already knee deep in toys with their cousin) and tied them to chairs for dinner. The boys were the last at the table, both staring down their peas and carrots. And while they were there some rather fascinating [read: terrifying] conversation ensued where my four year old son may or may not have spilled the proverbial beans about the jolly fat man who would be shimmying down Grammie’s chimney in T minus six or seven hours. Thankfully, he did so quietly and his cousin wasn’t paying attention at the moment. Still, a North Pole wind blew through the dining room, and it was clear we had a big problem.
My parents will totally relate to the absolute horror of this moment, but it hadn’t even crossed my mind that some kids still believe in Santa. We’ve chosen to “play” Santa but have never attempted to convince our children of his existence. This isn’t a debate against that, but it’s such a foreign concept to me that it hadn’t even made it onto my radar screen. My mother-in-law took me aside, nicely, and explained the rioting and drive by shooting that would ensue if the bubble burst in the course of my nephew’s first Christmas Eve ever at her house. And, so, I quickly took all of my children aside and explained to them that Santa was indeed real….this year.
Crisis narrowly averted.
Then, I tucked them in their wee little beds (or the one Queen sized bed that the four big kids share width wise). And I could actually see the sugar plum’s dancing as they slept.
It turned out to be a pretty good Christmas Eve after all.