I just came off a four-day weekend and I remember all over again why I’m not a big Thanksgiving (or holiday, for that matter) fan. Yeah, that sounds very grinchy and it’s not a super popular opinion, I’m sure, but everyone’s got their thing.
Thursday was Thanksgiving. Getting people together on Thanksgiving, especially with Jenn’s and my collective family, is a lot like getting cavemen to chisel out gears from stone that can be used in a watch that tells time with atomic precision. Schedules don’t line up, things just don’t jive, and plans don’t ever get made until the last minute, at which point it’s far too late to get anything of any reasonable size accomplished.
Jenn had to work on Thanksgiving, so that threw a wrench in the works. Add to that the fact that everyone seemed to want to plan through me - the guy that didn’t have any schedule complications. It felt a lot like three people standing in a room where two won’t talk to each other, but those two people are ordering pie in When Harry Met Sally. “Trav, tell Jenn we can get together at such-and-such time if she wants unless it’s going to take her longer, at which point we can get together at this other time.” “Trav, tell your parents it’ll need to be later than that unless I can get off early, in which case I can come home and get you unless you want to meet there, which means we might be able to get together earlier.”
Add to that the fact my parents don’t coordinate between themselves - Mom calls, makes arrangements, then Dad calls, makes different arrangements, Mom calls back, updates me based on new information she has… I’m getting stressed out just thinking about it.
In the end, Thanksgiving was just Jenn and I. I made some butter chicken, rice, and chapati bread (the bread didn’t turn out all that great, but I tried, dammit). Jenn sort of moped through dinner because “it didn’t feel like Thanksgiving,” but there really wasn’t a lot I could do about that.
Friday I was off work, so I thought I’d get a little gaming in whilst (and at the same time) doing the laundry and running Roomba/Scooba to clean the floor. I figured I’d get some stuff done on Jenn’s day off so we could take it easy Saturday and Sunday. Jenn came home tired from the day so Friday night was lame; we had some Chinese food from Happy Panda and watched The Break-Up (which does not end the way you think it will). Not really sure if Jenn noticed the housework was all done. Hmmmm.
Saturday my parents came over to help us put up our tree. We didn’t see them Thanksgiving, so they were nice enough to come over and help out with one of the larger stressful events of the season.
Putting up the Christmas tree is a lot like raising a barn. We have one of those artificial trees that folds up sort of like an umbrella and gets stored in a box in the attic. The box is fairly large and unwieldy and isn’t really something Jenn can deal with. Here’s how the typical year goes:
Trav gets in the attic and man-handles the tree box out of the attic. Trav then slides the box down the stairs because it’s too large to safely carry. Trav unpacks the tree and assembles it. Trav then realizes he’s put the parts together in the wrong order, at which time the entire thing gets disassembled and reassembled in the correct fashion. Trav then sets about going around to each individual branch and fanning out the little branches to fill the tree in. When the whole nightmare has finished, Jenn steps in to help decorate. (Jenn doesn’t participate in the tree raising for two reasons. First, Trav gets irritable and foul-mouthed, which isn’t pleasant. Second, Jenn believes Trav is being a perfectionist in the fanning out of the branches when really he just wants the tree to look full. There is ongoing heated debate about whether he is being reasonable.)
This year, Dad helped me get the tree out of the attic and down the stairs, which was awesome and made the process way easier. The parts got assembled in the correct order the first time, then Dad, Mom, and I fanned out the branches. Jenn still didn’t take part in the fanning, which nearly was (again) the source of some fairly heated debate. I’m still sort of irritated, but it’s just a small stick on the fire of my holiday irritation.
All four of us decorated the tree, during which time I realized I hate our ornaments. Independently, each one of the tree ornaments has merit. This one is cool looking, that one has personal memory or meaning attached to it… but they’re not “several great tastes that go great together.” Jenn doesn’t like my ornaments - many are Marvel super heroes my Dad got me and are very brightly colored and tacky, flying out of the tree or climbing the branches. I don’t like Jenn’s ornaments - they may have memories attached, but they sure aren’t my memories, and I can’t deal with the “70’s-looking ‘Christmas 1982’ pastel ball with a small child drawn on it” style. Yeah, she’s going to beat me down for that, but she knows it. We both dislike the other person’s ornaments. We both know it. Once the ornaments got combined on the tree, I stood back and seriously wanted to cry I hated it so much.
Anyway, so my parents helped out, and that made it go up a little faster and easier, which was good. I went to get the tree skirt out…
… when I remembered that Jenn’s cat destroyed it last year, so we don’t have one. Time to go to Jo-Ann to find a new one.
Of course, we didn’t like any of the ones they had, plus they’re so expensive - like $50 or more for a tree skirt! Instead, we found a pattern and some fabric we liked and came out with $92 worth of materials and no tree skirt. Makes perfect sense, right? We are now working on putting that together. Let me tell you how pissed off I’m going to be if her cat destroys this one.
We got home from Jo-Ann and I got sad looking at our tree again, so I went upstairs and found this awesome blown-glass “Q” ornament I keep on display. Opened up the box and started pulling it out of the package when it literally exploded in a cloud of glass shards. I’d never had it out of the box before. Six years I left it in the box and the one year I decide to get it out, it breaks. I guess it serves me right - there’s a precedent. I had another awesome ornament I had loved since I was a kid - an old-fashioned Santa in a glass ball that looked a lot like a floating wizard. It was my favorite ornament ever. A few years back, our tree ended up falling over and the only ornament that broke was that one.
We went to the Winter Hawks game Saturday night and sat in the same section we used to have season tickets in, only a few rows back from our original seats. It was the “Teddy Bear Toss” game, where you throw a teddy bear or three out onto the ice when the Hawks score their first goal. This game had three things running against it. First, the game was scoreless until overtime when the Hawks finally scored and won. A scoreless game in hockey is a boring game. I remember now why we don’t have season tickets. Second, the people behind me would not stop extolling the virtues of Bon Jovi and Meat Loaf music. Just shoot me. Third, the guy directly in front of me rode his chair like a jockey - his ass went up and down, hovering just above the seat, but he never actually sat down. Made it a little difficult to see.
Okay, so Saturday was a bust. That leaves Sunday.
Sunday I actually started on the upswing. First, I started the day off with a Big Rig, and the caffeine contributed toward a mood improvement. I still walked past the tree several times, which brought me down a bit, but the Big Rig did some work to counteract that. Jenn had some errands to run, so I set out on the town doing my own errands. I hit the comic shop (it’d been about a month) and picked up my subscriptions. I stopped at Michael’s to see if they had any different stuff for the tree. I checked out the Game Stop to see what new games were out and to pick up a case for my PSP games. I went all over the place. By the time I got back, I was feeling a little better. Not great, but better.
Jenn and I played some Xbox games Sunday night and went out to The Curry Leaf for some dinner. Dinner was pretty tasty and the games were fun, so that brought the night up a bit. Just in time for bed.
This morning I got up around 4:45a to use the restroom and couldn’t go back to sleep after I got back in bed. I laid there until 6:00a when the alarm went off, steaming over a fairly crappy vacation-that-wasn’t, and not really looking forward to having to work today. Thus ends the weekend.
I’m not anticipating awesomeness come Christmastime. I have a couple of weeks off at the end of the year to try and relax, but I know the schedule thing is going to bite us - trying to make it to everyones’ houses and see all the people that need to be seen. It really turns the holiday from a holiday into a moral obligation. (Yeah, yeah, “it could be worse.” But that doesn’t make it better, it just gives perspective. That’s a huge difference.)