Christmas 2013 marked my first return to Illinois since we left for Memphis back in February and it went by so fast that it all seems like a blur now.
Fortunately, I was able to recall bits and pieces of our trip to Chicagoland.
I miscalculated the number of people who left town the Friday night before Christmas.
We felt like Mary and Joseph as we stopped in Mt. Vernon, Illinois because there was no room at any of the inns. We had to drive an hour further north to Effingham for a room. We stayed at the brand, new and beautiful Hampton Inn and Suites. I just hated that we had to pay for a room that we used for all of six hours.
I’m crazy out of shape.
I never mention Savannah when we stay at a hotel and sneak her up back stairwell. I threw a blanket around Savannah in the parking lot, picked her up and quickly made my way up the stairs.
She looked like E.T. because all that sticks out is her head as I bounce up the stairs. We were only on the 3rd floor and I thought I was going to have a stroke before we reached the door. By time we got to the room I was gasping for breath and sweating.
Now I know I COULD blame Savannah’s 65+ pounds for this, but I’m going to be bigger than that (I already AM bigger) and say I’m just flat out of shape.
Going from 70º weather to 20º weather is havoc on the sinuses.
Not only did it make me sick for the first few days of our visit, it hit Tammy right before we headed back to Memphis. Mine was never more than a head cold, but Tammy’s moved down into her throat and chest, creating quite a cough.
Of course Tammy had her theory on why she gets the cough and sore throat when she’s sick, and I don’t.
Me: It’s so weird that you always get the couch like that. I never get that.
Tammy: It’s because your head is so much bigger. There’s more room for it to move around in there.
I loved seeing my granddaughter, Brooklynn.
Even though I didn’t hold it very much (can’t keep her head up yet), I did actually get up off the floor with it one time. She started crying and I was worried she was gonna throw up on me. Surprisingly I did OK.
Actually I loved seeing everyone.
Not only did we get to see and spend time with Tammy’s family, I got to spend time with Jake, his girlfriend Hannah, who seemed really nice despite having never seen A Christmas Story, The Santa Clause or Christmas Vacation. I even got to see my former co-workers for a little while, which was nice.
People who want a White Christmas obviously haven’t had more than one.
They aren’t all they are cracked up to be. No one there was all that excited when it started snowing on Christmas day. Maybe it was because there was already 6-8″ on the ground.
Tammy’s Mom likes making me uncomfortable.
Tammy and her Mom were watching from the window while I was helping Bob (step-father-in-law) shovel the driveway, so I waved to them and acted like I was going to flash them. Since Bob was at the far-end of the driveway, Tammy proceeded to lift up her shirt and flash me. As she held up her top, I stood there wide-eye and grinning for a few seconds.
It all came crashing down when Tammy’s Mom started to lift up her shirt as well. She didn’t get it past her waistband before I snapped out of my happy state and started shoveling the driveway again, only looking down at the driveway.
A little while later the topic was brought up while Tammy and her Mom were wrapping presents.
Me: I don’t want to see your Mom’s boobs. Besides they prolly just look like yours.
Tammy’s Mom: No they don’t!!
Tammy: I bet they do, Mom.
The next thing I know, Tammy’s Mom has her shirt lifted up and is showing Tammy a boob.
Tammy: They totally look like mine.
I couldn’t drink enough Jim Beam to get that thought out of my head.
Tammy and her Mom can’t sing.
One morning Tammy and her Mom were wrapping presents at the kitchen table while I was relaxing on the couch and watching TV. I don’t know what started it, but all of a sudden I heard them signing.
But they weren’t singing Christmas carols, which may have been OK. Instead they were
signing trying to sing “Hard Knock Life” from Annie and “Do Re Mi” from the Sound of Music. I say try because they kept messing up the lyrics.
Tammy: It’s a hard knock life for us. Instead of presents we get stuff. Instead of (mumbles), we get (mumbles).
That went of for a few seconds before they launched into the Sound of Music. Tammy’s Mom was definitely better lyrically at “Do Re Mi,” but the fact that they were belting it out at such an early time caused me to retreat to the bedroom until they simmered down.
I made Rice Krispies for the first time.
Tammy’s Mom didn’t have a shot glass, which resulted in my pouring WAY more booze in that what was called for, but they tasted really good.
I also made a batch using Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, but used less booze. They were good as well, just not quite as flavorful, but definitely more sticky.
They all were very good, so much so that I was eating some for breakfast. I didn’t really take into account how to display them so they ended up as one giant, sticky blob of goodness instead of individual squares.
That Jake didn’t feel bad about his aunt not getting his girlfriend a present.
After almost everyone had left Christmas night, Tammy’s sister Kristan told Jake that she felt horrible about not getting Hannah a gift.
Jake: But she’s Jew, she doesn’t celebrate Christmas.
That also explains why she had NOT seen all of the Christmas movies, something that left me gasping for straws.
Me: You haven’t seen any of those [movies]?
Me: (long pause, mouth open and staring) Seriously? (pause) How is that even possible? I love The Santa Clause and you don’t even know who Cousin Eddie is?
Hannah: (laughing) I really don’t.
Me: What do you do on Christmas then?
Hannah: Eat Chinese food.
Me: That’s what they do in A Christmas Story, so see, you’d totally like that movie.
Me: I can’t even comprehend what you are telling me right now. So if it says “Christmas” in it you won’t watch it, huh? Man, you’re missing out.
Savannah is quite possibly the best dog in the world.
Even in the midst of chaos, she was able to sleep… a lot.
Not having (remote) control was difficult.
Not having Christmas at my house means having to give up the remote, which sometimes drove me crazy. Especially when my step-father-in-law turned the TV volume up to 80 (out of 100) while we watched the movie Red 2.
Plus he didn’t like the idea of watching A Christmas Story, The Santa Clause or National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation multiple times, which I consider Christmas day staples.
I really love (and missed) good toilet paper.
If you can see through the toilet paper then it’s not going to be very much help. I’ll just leave it at that.
I’ve missed Mixteca.
Tammy and I visited our old stomping grounds while we were in Illinois and a lot has changed. Not only do they have even MORE top shelf tequila at Mixteca, they also had new dishes. Of course Tammy got the margaritas she’s been missing. While we saw some familiar faces, we hated that we didn’t get to see the owners, Claudia and Mike, but it looks like they are doing well in our absence.
That I’m very thankful for Tammy.
While I sometimes thing she buys too much stuff for people at Christmas, I’m glad that she puts thought into the gifts. If it were left up to me everyone would be getting something from the Walgreen’s Gift Card center.