Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Back on the job

I… am… back.

As I stated on Friday, I took some time off from blogging during the Christmas holiday.

And since the holiday has now passed, I can now share with all of you the secret my wife and I had been planning for the last month and a half…

I couldn’t tell you before because quite a few members of my family read my blogs and I didn’t wanna be the one to let the proverbial cat out of the proverbial bag.

Since my wife and I got married all those years ago (it will be 9 years April 5th), we have alternated holidays with each other’s families.

For example: We spend Thanksgiving with her family, Christmas with mine. The next year would be Thanksgiving with mine, Christmas with hers. Simple, democratic and stress reducing.

This year, we toyed with the idea of not going down to see my family until after Christmas because we wanted the girls (or as I now call them, the Peanut Butter and the Jelly… to understand these nicknames, you have to know they like this link and the song that goes along with it) to have Christmas morning at home since they are of the age where they are starting to grasp the concept. (The presents concept, not the religious concept yet)

Mid-November comes. My wife gets home from picking up the PB&J, and, after talking to her Mom, declared that we should still go down to my family’s house for Christmas Eve/Christmas morning (BTW, on Christmas Eve, my Dad's side of my family has a big get-together. I blogged about it here)

It seems my mother-in-law thought as I did, that it doesn’t necessarily matter where the kids are when Santa comes, just as long as he comes with the presents.

We then decided to surprise my family and continue telling them that we weren’t coming into town until either Sunday evening or Monday morning.

So a month and a half goes by… I talk to my parents periodically having this knowledge, and I have to work to NOT tell them… or anyone else for that matter.

BTW, we also decided that Santa would visit our house Friday night and leave the girls’ toys (including their new “car”) for them to open up/see on Saturday morning. For those of you who are wondering, there were no meltdowns for the fact we only got one battery-operated ride-on. The two of them shared it that morning in a style I had never seen from them before... I was proud.

One thing that helped with the subterfuge was the fact my family knew we had, on Friday night, a wedding for one of my wife’s cousins with whom she is close to. (She got married in a beautiful, candle-lit Catholic mass that was followed by a ‘kickin’ reception with an open bar) We got home from that around midnight, relieved (and paid) the babysitter, and got all the presents from upstairs and put them under the tree.

Aside: I was awake Saturday morning at 8:00. I got some coffee, the paper and sat in bed reading the newspaper, drinking my coffee and listening to NPR. The Peanut Butter woke up first, walked into the hallway, looked and smiled at me, started walking towards our bedroom, stopped, turned around and saw the presents under the tree and immediately shouted: "Santa came!" and proceeded to wake up her sister. Absolute perfection.)

Cut to Saturday afternoon: we packed up the Explorer full to the brim, put a DVD on for the girls to watch (hours and hours of A Christmas Story and A Wiggles Christmas… aaaahhhhh!!! ) and hit the open (and very wet) road after a quick stop at my in-laws to drop off some Christmas cookies.

We finally leave around 3:00.

(Aside: My brother, whom we told earlier in December in order to have someone ‘on the inside,’ called once at 10:00 am, again at 2:00 pm, again at 4:30 pm, and yet again at 6:00 pm because he wanted to know when we were going to get there so he could tape the whole thing for a documentary he and I are working on about traditions and marketing)

We arrive in Edwardsville at 6:45 (not bad, 250 miles in 3 hours, 45 minutes, which included a 30-minute pottybreak in Lincoln, IL)

We park a few houses down from my parents’ house and quietly (as quiet as one can be with 2 three-year olds in tow) walk down the sidewalk. It should also be noted that the spousal unit put Christmas hats on the PB&J (they look adorable), on herself (she looks cute) and me (I look like a department store Santa that was fired for driking on the job...) we walk up to the door, ring the doorbell and are expecting one of my parents to answer.

Instead, it’s one of my older cousins, a former Colonel in the Army (in the Defense Intelligence Agency…) meaning that he has seen it all, notices all, and allows nothing to faze him, so he says Merry Christmas and moves out of the way so we can come in…

(Aside: this got us worrying. This was so anticlimactic, we thought; ‘is everyone, including my parents, going to react in this manner… did we plan all this for naught?’)

Another cousin yells for my Mom to come into the entryway… she comes out of the kitchen, turns, sees us…

… and screams with joy (embracing all four of us in a hug so tight that one would not expect could come from a woman in her mid-60’s) while tears start to slowly stream down her face.

My Aunt Adele calls out to my Dad (who is busy showing off his new Corvette to the last few remaining people on the planet that had not yet seen it) in the garage.

He comes in, turns, sees us… and also screams (but in a much-more manly way. So I’ll rewrite that and say he ‘shouts with surprise’) and also gives us all a hug while tears start to slowly stream down his face (again, in a much more manly way)

After that, my wife and I look at each other and can safely say (unlike some people we all may know about) ‘mission accomplished.’

We even had the time to take a family picture; a complete family picture; safe for my cousin Mike, (who was sitting at home with his dog, which was dying with no vets available to put him to sleep) and my cousin David (who couldn’t get time off from work in Virginia)

I will post the picture at a later date.

My parents said that our surprising them was the best Christmas gift they could have gotten.

And after all… isn’t that what the season is all about?