i sent her back out informing her she had to leave them no option in order to save them from seeming too willing to leave. by the time lisa and brian and jeromy and ellen and i had finished tittering over old times back in the bedroom and harassing the blossoming high schoolers in the neighboring bedroom (my niece, her friend, and ellen's daughter) and surely making them think their parents are just as embarrassing as we think ours are, we returned to the party to see most everyone had gone home and my mother had "gone to bed" leaving dad to clean up by himself.
my mother's sister, cathy, was in town visiting from north dakota. i'm still unsure why she eschewed each of her four offspring and three grandchildren in favor of us, but it was good times anyway. she's 65 and one of the more open-minded people i know. she's seen jesus camp and has opted for organic, free range death after watching supersize me.
sunday was xmas eve and we packed the baby up in his blue-dog-in-the-pocket pajamas and hauled him over to the broadway square mall to have his photo taken. the santa was rather authentic with a real beard and real wrinkles and a fancy suit that showed off his camel toe nicely. the elves were a bit horrifying with their white trash looks and facial deformity, but they were nice as pie and wanted to hold my baby. i worried that oliver might bridle when faced with a human puppet in a giant chair, but the first thing his hand brushed against was wiry beard hair and a smile spread its way across his face as quickly as warm baby urine across the front of a parent's shirt. boy if he didn't work his fingers in there and begin the tugging and the giggling. he was the cutest little baby on the planet, yet each time the camera flashed and the image rolled up on the screen, i stood there thinking "how can that look so much not like my baby?" i also wondered if they weren't photoshopping that baby toupee in when i wasn't looking.
i finally relented knowing the photos were going to continue to pop up looking the same as the last and we called it a day while mom signed her financial life away for a sheet of eight wallets. brian finally remembered to turn off the video camera after ordering a slushie and then we went to the gap to buy him two shirts since he had forgotten to pack any. i'm not sure how he managed to look into that tiny, blue sanrio suitcase of his missing its shirts and dress pants and dress shoes and sweaters and jackets and not think that surely he needed to pack something else. i mean... what could there have been? three undershirts and three pairs of panties? who's going to get by on that?
we pattered about the house for a couple of hours probably playing games and drinking drinks before heading out to baby's first religious experience down at the local methodist church. it was raining. since when does it rain on xmas eve? when you have to haul a baby through it, i suppose. so we lasted maybe 10 minutes. then, as the two screens were unraveling from the ceiling to catch the projections of who knows what, we evacuated the baby to the narthex. we tried to go back in later, but the baby was being repelled by the religion and choking on the holy spirit filling the air. we retreated. eventually, the baby and his longies (wool pant diaper cover things for those of you not in the know) had had enough and the warm baby pee spread across brian's shirt as quickly as a baby's smile across his face as he feels the first bristlings of santa's beard across the back of his hand.
after church, it was time to scarf down vegetarian swedish meatballs and vegetarian mashed potatoes and vegetarian corn. oliver opened his pj's from nana and grandpa and an early santa present. santa had picked out a stuffed ferret that looks remarkably like one of your cats when seen from the corner of an eye. oliver thought the ferret was hilarious. he thought it was a cat. he thinks cats are hilarious. he thinks cats are puppets. he thinks puppets are hilarious. so he laughed and laughed and laughed at the ferret. then, even though oliver had just seen santa, he was totally excited that santa was coming and finally went to bed so that "santa" could fill the stockings before going to bed herself.
8:00am xmas morning rolled around and i found i was the only one in our room awake. by the time 8:30am rolled around, brian and oliver accidentally woke up. i wanted to get a jump on the festivities so oliver could open his stocking and santa presents and mommy-and-daddy presents before my sister's family arrived and all sanity was lost. we didn't get terribly far before the baby was already ready for a nap. he was awash in fisher price balls and cubes and sock frogs and frog rattles and rollback frogs and ugly dolls and vintage golden books and vintage viewmaster disks and i don't know what all else. the rest proceeded calmly enough, but with 10 people in the room, there just isn't nearly enough attention to go around. i was dizzy and greasy and tired.
we finally got around to breakfast at noon with scrambled eggs and caramel rolls and caramel rolls with pecans and biscuits (no kringle for the first time in ages since our ex-neighbor patton who used to send it to us seems to be on strike with our friendship) and my grandparents showed up to watch us play 80's trivial pursuit and drink drinks and eat foods and stocking candies. i finally got to shower before dinner rolled around. i frankly don't remember what happened after that. probably not much. except that brian was a loser who had to work the next day, so he left town after dinner.
the day after, we tried to go visit our ex-next door neighbor. her name is patton and she's ancient. i totally dug her when i was in elementary school. her husband was still alive and they would hang in their garage and we would play with their dogs and the one that looked like a little brown and white cow and knew spanish and would throw you down if you ran away loved loved LOVED to play fetch. his name was rags and it was his whole life. he would come up to you with small limbs fallen from trees. he would eat them. he would try to walk through doorways with them and have to turn them sideways. riches was a german shepherd who wore tiny panties sometimes. patton was the eccentric black sheep of a wealthy family. she lived with her husband mack in guadalajara for awhile. they put a "west virginia is for lovers" bumper sticker on the back of their car. i thought it rather racy. we came home one day to see they had spray painted it taxi cab yellow. i'm certain my parents were pleased. i went to the garage to see her after my last day of second grade when i had raked in two blue ribbons (one for attendance and one for conduct) as well as a rubber ICEE bear bank. she fed me her latest culinary invention: peppermint cookies. with real peppermint! real chewy! i only made it through half of one. their home is where i learned the horror of hissing lobsters and boiling water. and the magic of spontaneous combustion as demonstrated by an errant pile of forgotten leaves in their backyard where the rats lived and my father doused it back under control. they put up a row of potted ornamental trees on top of two crossties outside their living room window that faced our kitchen window because they once saw my mother peering out the kitchen window at the sunset and they thought she was peering at them. anyway, we tried to go by to show her oliver, but she wasn't home. i was a little worried she might put her death grip on oliver. we think she is angry with us since mom and dad haven't been keeping up with her as much lately. and then there i go not sending her a thank you note for her baby shower gifts or printing out and sending her a xmas letter.
so instead, we stopped by my mom's office to let her boss meet oliver. he told me over and over that our baby is pretty. to prove he wasn't lying, he told me that his own son was an ugly kid. dad drove us back to dallas. we had to sidestep a traffic jam caused by an overturned truck of chickens. poor chickens.
baby's first ornament
baby's first church night in the pants he peed through
first santa gift - fanby the ferret - here is the baby expressing hilarity
kickin' it in the santa jammies
why does my baby look larger than my father?
five million stockings
presents from mom & dad (that's us)
more presents from mom & dad (dude... that "mom & dad" is freaking me out)
i definitely didn't marry daddy