Spending Christmas in Italia
Merry Christmas everyone! If everything went according to plan I should be celebrating Christmas with my bride in beautiful downtown Florence, Italy. If things didn’t happen according to plan, I could well be spending Christmas in some airport between Reno and Florence wishing I hadn’t booked my flight through some site called “trust.me.com”.
I understand that an overseas vacation isn’t exactly your traditional Christmas celebration, but how many chances will I have to combine the adventures of two of my favorite movies; “Christmas Vacation” and “European Vacation” at the same time? I’m a huge Clark W. Griswold fan!
The truth is that this is my 58th Christmas and, with the exception of the half dozen or so I spent deployed in the military, they’ve all been pretty traditional. As a kid my sisters and I rarely slept at all on Christmas Eve so the mornings never came soon enough. I remember sending our gullible little sister into our parents’ bedroom to convince them that Christmas morning should start at 5 a.m, then again at 5:30 and 6 until she finally wore them down around sunrise. She took a lot of grief but that is, after all, what little sisters are good for.
Our parents would make us wait in the bedroom until they had coffee and cigarettes; it was the Sixties after all so smoking and torturing children were still acceptable practices.
When I became a parent, the term “traditional Christmas” took on a whole new meaning. While the night before Christmas still involved very little sleep, it had less to do with excitement and anticipation and more to do with the words “some assembly required”.
Like many parents we would hide gifts for our kids until these went to bed on Christmas Eve to maximize their surprise and delight in the morning. At least that’s why Sandra did it, for me it was always more about procrastination. My motto has been and remains, ”Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid doing altogether”. I could not put off the required assembly any longer than Christmas Eve and Sandra made it clear that avoiding it altogether was not an option either.
I’ll be the first to admit that working with hand tools and following instructions are not my long suit … Sandra would be the first to tell you that I just plain suck at both. I could fix a broken F-14 in time for it’s next flight but assembling a plastic kitchen set was way out of my league.
Over the years Sandra and I developed our own Christmas Eve traditions that involved making a stout batch of eggnog and Southern Comfort them she would begin reading the instructions while ignored her and began looking for “Tab A’s” to slide into “Slot B’s” to be secured by “Metal Screw E” using “Washer F” ….how tough could it be?
Our biggest Christmas Eve fiasco came on a cold snowy night in Idaho. The big present to be assemble that year was a freestanding basketball goal. We hit the eggnog a little hard that night because it was a big project that would require going outside at some point. Doubling up on the eggnog was probably the only good move we made that night.
We were working remarkably well together and even kind of following the instructions so the goal was coming together quickly, a little too quickly as it turns out. Just as we were congratulating each other for a job well done Sandra realized that the now assembled goal would not fit out the front door. A minor set back.
After some eggnog induced laughter we devised a plan to disassemble the base, carry it outside and quickly reassemble it in the driveway. A good plan except the snow had become a blizzard and it was a bout 12 degrees. For the record, “Tab A’s’ don’t slide easily into “Slot B’s” during a blizzard after consuming several eggnogs.
We’re grandparents now and so there’s no more late night assembly required for us. These days we order gifts online to be delivered to our grandkids and book trips to Europe for Christmas. I hope they have eggnog in Italy — some traditions are too sacred to sacrifice!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Rick Seley is an award-winning humor columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.