Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas, in which the best laid plans go astray, yet Christmas remains Christmas

JR and Joe D, who were miserably sick yesterday with high fevers, aches, pains and other viral woes, awoke feeling better today.

Santa's presents were all a big hit. Santa brought the wooden garage and the car carrier JR had picked out from the catalog, a race track with real race cars, and a Playmobil soccer field - just like JR had dreamed about. "And Mom, we forgot to mail my letter - do you think Santa found it and read it anyway?"

My best present (which I'd opened a few days ago at JR's insistence) is a lovely Skagen watch, nickel free, so I'm not allergic to it.

No fancy breakfast, since the boys' stomachs were still not 100%. No
church because between the illnesses and Santa and my need to cook tonight's dinner, by the time I looked up at the clock, all of the morning masses were over. This may be the only Christmas in my life where I did not make it to mass.

As soon as JR had opened everything I started cooking. Braised veal roast, brown sugar glazed sweet potatoes, green beans. I also assembled an antipasto (well, 2 plates of antipasto) with lettuce, roasted red peppers, hard boiled eggs, provolone, prosciutto, tuna, grape tomatoes, artichoke hearts, two kinds of olives, mozzarella balls ... (Antipasto is the one thing my inlaws always insist I provide for family gatherings, given our proximity to wonderful Italian specialty food purveyors).

MIL called, 3 times, with the upshot being that no one wanted to come to our house for dinner because they are afraid of catching whatever virus the boys have - instead we are to drag their barely recovered selves and the entire multi-course meal over to MIL's house. "It's Christmas, it will make her happy, do it for me" pleads the WS.

Our cross-the-street neighbor came over with her 2 kids bearing a present for JR (ack! how did I forget to get anything for her 2?) while I was still in pajamas - cooking. Joe invited them in. The kids played and ate cookies, and K kept me company while I cooked.

I broke the news to her - we got our postcard on Friday from the Spanish immersion charter school (her daughter is in kindergarten there) - JR is # 84 on the waitlist (or as Joe D says, "the postcard said 'Adios, Amigo!'") Two schools down, 3 to go.

Eventually, everything was cooked and or assembled and packed to go to MIL's house. The neighbors went home. I got washed and dressed and then played games with JR while his dad did the same.

4:30 - we're running late for dinner at 5:00 (especially since we're bringing the entire dinner, except for the lasagna). I'm getting JR together and gathering last minute stuff. We step out the door of the house. It is pouring rain and WS is standing at the door of the car, cursing, because the bottom dropped out of the shopping bag holding the antipasto and the polenta layer cake I'd made for dessert and all of it was on the sidewalk, upside down, with my special holiday
platters cracked.

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

In trying to get the ruined food off the sidewalk and into the trash, WS trips on the steps to our front door, pulling the plug out of the inflatable Grinch and ripping his pants.

More wailing, gnashing of teeth, and both of us start fantasizing divorce.

JR helps us clean up, never betraying any concern with his boiling over parents.

We get to the inlaws. They are nonplussed by the missing antipasto because they just happen to have another one in reserve "just in case" (who does this? who asks someone to make an antipasto and then goes ahead and makes another, just in case?) They also don't miss the cake, because they have at least 2 other cakes and many cookies in the house.

Everyone raves about the veal roast. Some people even eat the green beans and the
sweet potatoes (well, no one biologically related to my husband, but JR, and all the people who have married into the family)

THE EAGLES WIN and TO looks bad - so everyone is happy.

Presents are distributed and JR gets about 5 presents for every 1 that anyone else gets, including a drum set and and toy electric guitar complete with microphone and amp.

My best presents: ticket to see Chicago and gift certificates to 2 restaurants, 1 of which I've never been to and 1 which is my favorite (L'Angolo, for you Philly folks).

Joseph is elated.
My inlaws are happy.
My husband apologized for the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

And now it's time for me to turn in, as in our house, not a creature
is stirring, not even a mouse.

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