Wednesday, December 25, 2002

And So This Is Christmas

It's A Wonderful Blog

Let's see now. We last saw our intrepid hero Monday night after midnight.

Once the tree was up, we had to rethink the overall feng shui of the small apartment. Too much stuff coming up too short. In the interests of making the house a cozy place for visitors, Darcie and I agreed to put the laptops away and unplug ourselves for two days while we celebrated Christmas. I didn't even cheat last night at her parent's house when I had a chance. Today, right now, marks my triumphant addicted little return to the computer, and the backlog -- backblog -- of events is overwhelming. Hang on to your brand-new fleece Christmas hats.

Day One: Monday. Slept a bit late Monday morning, until 10 or so. Up to spot-clean with Darcie and Willow; Matt and Alicia arrived just after noon and we took 'em right over to the guesthouse on the Northfield campus, a fine and giant old home once built for the musical director of the Northfield School for Girls, now a bed-and-breakfasty inn with no breakfast and a phone nook in a closet under the old oak-bannistered staircase. Agreed to meet at 3:00 at the Manders house in Brattleboro for homemade french onion soup and a light family check-in.

After stopping with Ginny for bread, light and merry supper at the in-laws. Even Josh and Clay, late on their way from Boston to Clay's home in Newfane, VT, stopped in to finalize plans for the next day. Matt had brought some of the good red wine he makes with his father and uncle each year; we drank it while we listened to carols on the radio and perused Alicia's excellent scrapbook of the winemaking process.

Darcie and Willow, Ginny, Alicia, Matt and I made it back to the apartment here by seven. Foosball and beer until nine, when Matt wanted to watch the Steelers/Buccaneers game; Darcie got out cheese and fruit, popcorn bags and nuts and chocolate dips and we chatted while we watched the game. Alicia and Matt left for the guesthouse and Ginny stayed over in the baby's room.

Interlude, Wednesday, 3:00 p.m. Just glanced up from the screen, where the snow is coming down thick and sideways out the big picture windows. Heavy. A blanket in the air; a fog; a watercolor whitewash. A Goddamn White Christmas. Buh buh buh boom...and now back to A Very Boyhowdy Christmas, day two.

Day Two: Tuesday. Tuesday found us rising early as promised; Ginny, Darcie, Willow and I out on the road by 9:00. While Ginny snuck behind the counter on her day off from Mocha Joes to make my vanilla latte and her double espresso, Darcie made me stop to get bagels, which later turned out to be presents from Patty (Darcie's mother) to her own mother; I erroneously assumed they were for eating (silly me) and bought unnecessary cream cheeses. By 10:30, the cast of characters -- Darcie, Willow, and myself; Darcie's parents Neil and Patty, Darcie sister Alicia and her fiancee Matt, Darcie's brother Josh and his girlfriend Clay, Clay's brother Justin, Darcie's sister Virginia -- were arranged on rope beds and piano benches around the tree in the living room, while three cats, our jack russell Zellie, Alicia and Matt's pug Bruno, Patty and Neil's drooling beast St. Bernard Matty lolled around on the floor.

And then, as Dylan Thomas would say, the presents. We picked numbers to see which hand-knit scarf we got, then Patty led us through a game in which presents are passed leftandright willy-nilly, like musical chairs or hot potato; I got a sink scrub brush when the accompanying story ended. The next two hours involved mass wrappingpaper chaos, with presents distributed and opened and thanks given across a crowded room. A very partial list of things received:
  • Echoes of Pink: A Pink Floyd Tribute. Acoustic covers, female singer-songwriters I've never heard of; I had seen this on and put it on my wish list after hearing only a few 30 second samples. Great covers.

  • A bendable and poseable set of Simpsons figurines.
  • Two ties: One red and gold vintage, one Pierre Cardin greenandpurple paisley thing.
  • A video of Mystery Science Theater 3000 shorts. Mostly old classroom instructional videos and newsreels.
  • Books: A two-fer box of Stephen Jay Gould's musings on the natural order of things: The Panda's Thumb and The Mismeasure of Man; Rushkoff's Media Virus; a comprehensive and interesting-looking tome called The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug.
  • A subscription to the New Yorker...finally
  • The usual stocking stuffers: Godiva chocolates, motorized bulldozers, pens and tangerines, a pewter candle-snuffer.
  • Many, many books to read to Willow. I'm especially enamored of Good Dog, Carl.

Gift exchange followed by lazing around the house eating pancakes and cutting munchies from a huge ham for several hours, during which Virginia and I, feeling claustrophobic, had to volunteer to walk the dog to get out of the house for a few minutes.

Dinner at The Putney Inn, a somewhat-yearly treat hosted by Darcie's Aunt Barbara, her husband Richard, and their late adolescent son Matthew. Small salad bar but warm rustic atmosphere and slightly overpriced mixed lamb grill special -- two tiny shanks, a single sausage and two bites of lamb stew over lentils and couscous. Overall a nice dinner but hectic, with all who had been there that morning, minus Justin but plus the hosts, Darcie's other aunt Vivian, and Darcie's Grandmother Edith. They only served beer in 22 oz. bottles, from McNeill's in Brattleboro, and of course it was Barbara and Richard's first time seeing the baby, so most of what I remember is being slightly tipsy and watching others play with the baby.

Back to the house for MORE presents, this time with Barbara and Richard and Matthew and Edith and Vivian, all of whom (except Matthew) had asked for no presents this year but seemed to have plenty to give. Got: six double-episode tapes of The Simpsons, our yearly calendar and a check from Edith; Willow got lots of stuff including one of those Mozart Magic Cubes that plays music when you hit the buttons on its sides, each button adding to or subtracting from the mix a different instrument.

By the time the only ones in the house were those who live there (Patty, Neil, and Virginia) plus me and the wifeandkid, it was 11:00, long past the usual bedtime of all but Virginia and myself. So Ginny and I, still awake at the end of our Christmas, went out into the eve of Christmas for the rest of the world, looking for light displays on the back dirt roads. By the way, can I just say how impressed I am with The River, our favorite local radio station out of Northampton? Who knew there was so many non-cheesy, folk/jazz/blues/acoustic/bluegrass Christmas songs? Ginny and I listened, and did not speak, as we drove around the deserted street of downtown Brattleboro looking at the decorations. Home late; bed.

Day Three: Wednesday

Woke up to impending snowstorm; see interlude above, as it is still coming down in sheets now at 4:07 p.m. and the plow has just come through. Coffee and rush rush rush and out of Brattleboro by 10:00 and home, where we found places for all our new things and then, finally, gave Willow her Christmas present from us: Her first real food. Breast milk pumped into a few spoonfuls of powdered rice cereal made for a white paste that she mouthed and then went ape over. Merry Christmas, kid. By next year, she'll know enough to ask for what she wants, so it's all downhill from here.

Pictures, they say, are worth a thousand words; what follows is truly what we did on Christmas itself.

Merry Christmas to all.

And to all, a Good Night.

posted by boyhowdy | 2:22 PM |

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