We had three Christmas celebrations to cover this weekend at three different houses, along with some travel. So we had meticulously planned out every aspect of our weekend.
It all began on Friday -- Christmas eve.
Mark didn'thave Christmas eve off work (Friday). So the kids and I went to grandma & grandpa's house in the middle of the afternoon, and daddy followed along later in the evening after work. It wasn't ideal to have to take two cars, but it ended up working out well because this way, Mark could set out the Santa presents, eat the cookies, and drink the milk that Aliza had set out for him. By the time we got back home on Christmas day, the house would be all set up, showing evidence of Santa's arrival. For Aliza. Although the boys know who Santa is, I don't think they are caught up in the whole story of Santa's travels on Christmas eve.
So Christmas eve, hanging out at my parents' house, went as planned. I would have liked to have had time to drive around town looking at Christmas lights, but we didn't specifically write that into the plan, so it didn't happen.
Christmas morning we waited for Uncle James, Auntie Kim, and Jocelyn to come over so the kids could open their presents. Aliza had been gazing longingly under the tree since the night before.
Zack didn't want to open any presents. I guess the nine of us were too much of a crowd for him. So we let him escape back to the basement and to his Wonder Pets.
AJ, though, really got into the ripping and tearing part of presents. He was only slightly interested in what was inside, but he sure got into the opening part. Especially the ones that had Dora wrapping paper.
So, we figured one out of two wasn't bad. We let AJ open all Zack's presents.
Jocelyn got some fun presents and we all had a great time hanging out with her. She's two, and turning into a little spitfire.
Later we were talking about getting ready to head home, when Aliza announced that she was excited to go see what Santa had put in her stocking.
Oops! The stockings --I forgot to have Mark do the stockings. Okay well no problem, we were in two cars -- one of us could leave a few minutes before the other, get home first, and quick do the stocking stuffing.
So we starting packing up the cars. We determined that Mark would leave first in my car with the boys, because they were tired and ready to go, and the DVD player was already all set up in my car and ready for them. Mark took my keys and packed up both vans. Aliza and I were going to follow along a few minutes behind them in Mark's car. I told her it would be a great chance for her and I to have girl talk.
Then as we were saying goodbye, Jocelyn let me hold her. Which I appreciated and was a little bit of a Christmas miracle, because she is a two-year-old, after all, and quite busy and quite discriminating about who is allowed to take up her time and when. And it's not that I don't get to hold kids, having a couple of five-year-olds who think they are two-year-olds, but she's just so compact and soft and still so babylike. So we cuddled for a minute.
I'm going somewhere here, I promise. Stay with me.
So off Mark goes with the boys, we do all our bye-byes, and I go back in to the house to see what else we forgot. I find the pile of blankets and pillows we brought and throw those in Mark's van. I see that the boys' sippy cups are still here, filled with milk, but I have the cooler with their medicine, so I can just throw the sippys in there. We're good to go.
I'm not sure what triggered the thought but at this point it dawns on me that Mark never gave me the keys to his car. I check my pockets. I check the table next to the door where he always puts them when we're at grandma & grandpa's house. No keys.
Oh, holy night.
I turn and look sharply at the driveway, as if I'm going to see the tail end of my car rounding the corner. As if he didn't leave 25 minutes ago. As if there's a chance I could catch him.
I go in and break the news. We are stranded here, I have no keys to the van. My dad says to call him -- doesn't he have a cell phone? Well no actually, he doesn't. We have a cell phone, which I usually carry. Yes, it's nearly 2011, and Mark doesn't have a cell phone.
And I don't think we were aware of it at the time, but this is the point at which all logical thinking went right out the window.
My quick thinking brother suggests immediately that we call the police and have them pull him over and tell him to come back. I think about how much Mark would love getting pulled over by the police on Christmas. I don't know if they would even do that.
But, wait, I have an even smarter plan. I think I can hop in my parents' car and fly down the highway, and catch up to him. Because apparently I'm going to drive like a bat out of hell. Oh and did I mention that it had been snowing most of the day? And that my parents live on a gravel road, which when it's cold and icy, is like driving on marbles?
We give it a good try anyway, me and my dad. We drive like crazy people probably a quarter mile down the road before we accept that this is perhaps not the best plan. We turn around and go back. Okay, on to plan B.
Plan B is to take one of my parents' cars, and just return later in the week for the van. So we quickly transfer everything in the van -- the blankets and pillows, presents, and my computer, camera, and purse to my dad's car. There's a long, intense discussion about when we are going to do the car switch, because there's another snowstorm expected later this week, and if the van sits out in the driveway for too long it not only will be in danger of not starting, but it'll be snowed in.
We try to put it in neutral to roll it into the garage. But you can't put it in nuetral without the keys.
So Aliza and I take off in dad's car.
I'm stressed though. I'm worried that Mark's going to realize he still has his own keys in his pocket at some point and he's going to freak out and turn around, and come back to my parents house. Aliza and I peel our eyes looking at every car coming the other way, to see if it's our van. I cannot imagine what he's going to say, but he's not going to be happy. Oh, if only we hadn't been in such an all-fired hurry.
Aliza and I get about an hour down the highway before she decides she has to stop and go potty, which is interesting in itself because this kid, who brags about how she can get through a 6 hour school day without visiting the bathroom once, apparently can't go more than an hour in the car without having to go.
We stop a gas station and while she's in the bathroom I call home to see if Mark has arrived yet. He has; he is a little breathless from having quickly gotten the stockings stuffed and the boys out of the car. He wants to know how our drive has been. I tell him it's fine, and ask if he's noticed yet that he still has his car keys on him.
He pauses and says he doesn't; he put them in my pocket when I was holding Jocelyn. I say no, I've checked my coat pockets over and over. He says no, not my coat pocket, my sweatshirt pocket. I didn't have my coat on yet when I was holding Joci. I unzip my coat, check my sweatshirt pocket, and -
Oh. Oh holy christmas tree. There they are.
I don't think I spoke for several seconds. I needed a little time to process what a dork I am. Only I wasn't thinking "dork,", that's just my effort to keep this PG.
So to make a long story short (too late?), we arrived home and to her great delight, Aliza found that Santa had left her and her brothers presents, and stockings full of goodies. And I tried to get over the overwhelming desire to climb into a hole somewhere and stay there until all memory of this event had passed.
And I have to end by saying what an utterly wonderful family we have. We are so enormously blessed by family who loves our children wholly and unconditionally. No matter whether they behave appropriately. No matter whether they say "thank you." Our children have aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who all go out of their way to make them feel joy and love, during the holidays and all year long.
We are so grateful to have family that not only accepts our boys as they are, but goes out of their way to show them love and affection. That is our real Christmas present!
The Dentist, part two. 23 years in the making.
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