Thursday, December 4, 2008

Celebrations: eye injuries, the Jesus kit and the Messiah

The holiday season officially got started last week with a Thanksgiving feast at our place. Some of our favorite people joined us as we ate, drank, gave thanks, ate some more, rested, digested and then ate some more, again. There is a reason January is the number one month for gym membership sign ups...

Usually we put up our Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving but our weekend plans got booked quickly with family outings, work and visiting friends. We decided to wait a week and concentrate on the celebration at hand. Our dear friend Alison and her daughter Ella wanted to do something special since this was Ella's first Thanksgiving in America. A trip to "Christmastown" N.C. sounded like a perfect outing. After much deliberating on how and where to get there, we hit the road.

Riding in the passenger seat with me was my dear friend Lynn. Some of you might make the connection to my (star-worthy) cover feature in last month's Creative Loafing story Canuck in the Queen City in which I poked fun at Lynn for her sometimes questionable sense of direction. Let me just say after our trip to what?s-ville, I most definitely owe her not just an apology, but a full-on retraction.

Now I want to say up front that I actually copied the directions to our destination directly off the award-winning Charlotte Parent website, at which I am employed and for which I am fully responsible for all content. Ah-hem. The directions were all wrong and we consequently took several wrong turns. After stopping at more than one lonely gas station, we finally had the right directions. This wouldn't have been toooo bad had I not gotten lost back in Charlotte trying to find my way to the lousy freeway. Yeah, I know. You know you suck when you can't even figure out how to get out of town to get lost. For the record, I did not post those directions, and obviously didn't check them for accuracy. Another, ah-hem.

Until this trip I had never actually been up close and front at a tractor trailer/truck weighing I have. I don't do so well driving in the dark and that is why I was prescribed glasses to wear at night. I kinda leave them on my desk every day and they don't do me much good on the road. So in my complete and utter disorientation, I drove not only us, but Alison and the car full of kids behind us, straight through an empty weighing station. I just beeped and waved and drove on through.

Anyhow, we finally got there. The whole town (church, gas station, residential homes, diner) band together and sling Christmas lights on every building, tree, lamppost and fire hydrant around. It's quite a spectacle. I wonder if they do fundraisers the rest of the year to pay the electric bill? Our drive there was so stressful, we just had to milk all the enjoyment out of the lights as possible and we decided a drive-thru wasn't going to do it. Nope. We were gonna get outside and get a little closer to the blinking merriment.

I have to say, we did get some "aw shucks"ish, adorable photos of the kids hanging in the trees and lots of cute shots of Ella. Every shot of that baby is cute, really. Just as we were wrapping it up, I decided to get one more shot of my son in a Ninja pose, sprawled across a tree branch. I stepped closer and stepped directly into a tree branch, poking myself right in the eye. Now I had reason not to see where I was going!

It took a couple of days to recover, but my eye got better. So did my pride. Husband and I were now on to our next celebration, our 12th wedding anniversary. We decided to buy each other a joint gift, one that would be of enormous value to us both, and, if we purchased it before the end of the year, it would be a tax write off too. We went and bought us a GPS. I know, could have come in handy on the trip to Christmastown.

Husband has a new hobby/part-time gig as a mail courier and desperately needs help with directions. As I have alluded to before, this city bites when it comes to layout, urban planning, directions and signage. So the GPS idea was a big thumbs up. I knew he'd get a lot of use out of it. What I didn't realize is how much it would affect him.

After getting a great deal online, our GPS was ready for pick up the very next day and husband offered to go pick it up. He likes toys and gadgets way more than I do and besides, I had a ton of work to do. The store was about 15 minutes away so I figured he'd be back in an hour, tops. About half an hour later, I heard him pull up but kept on working. I knew he'd come busting in the door full of excitement and waited for it. And kept typing. And waited...

As I was wrapping things up, he quietly came into the room with a strange look on his face. You know in those religious movies how "calm and peaceful" people look once they've spoken to God, or seen an angel or whatever? Yeah, that look.

"I have seen the Messiah," was all he said.

"Really?" I replied. "It sure took a while."

The GPS has changed his life. He no longer wanders in the dark (I could use some help with that one still), has direction in his life (and I'm not talking literally) oh, and has found inner peace too. From his lips to God, apparently. Me, I'm just happy I won't get quite so lost any more!

Back to the I worked away and waited for him to come in, he sat in the driveway programming our "favorite" destinations. School, the dentist (we've only been once), his work, my work, our next door neighbor's house (even I can't get lost going there), the bank, "our" grocery store (it's seriously, right up the road) and the jewelers. Yeah. I haven't actually been there yet, but suggested I might want to go soon and get my charm bracelet fixed so he found me one courtesy of the Messiah.

I figure on those early mornings when I"m "lost" and struggling to find something to say for my website, I might just ask the Messiah for some direction.

Today was one of those mornings, but I was too hungover to remember to ask and somehow slogged my way through . Which brings me to our most current celebration, my 41st birthday. I went out for a couple of celebratory drinks with a friend last night and paid dearly for it all day. The worst part though is that I only had two and a half drinks! Pathetic if I think back on my bartending days when I could throw back several straight shots over the course of a night... Then again, that was 20 years ago.

Anyhow, I decided today would be a perfect day to decorate our Christmas tree so we asked Lynn and our dear friends Kate and Ben to come help. Ms Southern Hospitality showed up which just sweetened the pot for me. Everyone was happy to see her. The kids were over the top excited and I tried hard to muster some of that too. The funniest part so far was watching Ben, who is Jewish and doesn't decorate trees or celebrate Christmas for that matter, get into the whole thing. He had a blast and screeched with joy. I raised my eyebrows every now and then. We finally got the tree ready and our guests got ready to go when Keller piped up "where's the Jesus kit?"

That one stopped Kate in her tracks. Keller knows a lot of stuff about a lot of things (especially Egypt - but that's a whole other post) so she hesitated and waited to hear this one. We don't have a Jesus diagram or science project or set of paper dolls...we have a ceramic Nativity Scene my mother gave us several years ago. Keller refers to that as the Jesus kit. We assembled it in front of the fireplace, where it now sits waiting for Santa and holiday number four.

Just thinking about it makes me feel tired. Think I need some inner peace. At least I now know where to find some, thanks to the Messiah.