Well the Christmas season is firmly upon us. Yes, the season of peace, joy, love, relatives, disapproval, disgust, despair and burnt cookies is upon us.
I've decided that this year, my friends, I'm going to share with you some of the best Christmas stories from my life. Some of them are sweet. Some of them are funny. Some of them I probably shouldn't be telling you, because, well, some of my family members read this blog. (Wait, who am I kidding? NONE of my family members read this blog. Not a one. Not even my mother who says, "You know, Sarah, you always write your best when you write about real life." "So go read my blog," says I. "Oh know, " says she, "I'm not reading anything called a blog."
Whatever. I'm 43 years old, and I've been married for going on 21 years. Frankly, if my extended family can't stomach the stories I'm about to tell, then they need to get a funny bone transplant because, as we all know, tragedy plus time equals humor.
THIS IS FUNNY STUFF!
I'm not sure how many of these tales from the holiday side I can pull out into the light, but I will promise you this: The story of the Christmas Hubby and I got engaged is a TWO PART ER, not to be missed.
SO, let's begin with tale from my college years. Pour a cup of tea, gather the kiddies around and let old Auntie Sarah tell you about the trip DOWN SOUTH. (I'll have to break this up into chapters over the next couple days because, my friends, too much happened on this trip for just one blog.)
My family's vacations could be depended on for two things: 1) there would be car trouble. My father was that deadly combination of man who was too poor to buy a good car and too bookish to know how to fix the crap mobiles he bought. Every major vacation we took involved at least one trip to a repair shop, always out of state and almost always on a Sunday when everyone was closed.
The other thing we could depend on when traveling with Danny and Donna Dull (The name my father gave himself and my mother.) is that Donna, ever the bargain hunter, would book us into the cheapest, most improbable housing ever.
Christmas 1986 was very exciting for me. It was my first Christmas with a serious boyfriend. (Okay, every boyfriend I had was serious, but this one wound up marrying me.) I was a sophomore in college. I just finished my semester course on US history. (The final exam was on the Civil War. The Professor...I'll call him Wonderful Warren Winter mostly because those of you who know him will know who I'm referring to...never ONCE mentioned the Civil War in any of his lessons. We did, however spend two weeks of the semester on the TABLE OF CONTENTS.) I was pretty certain I'd aced the test (I did) mostly because of my enduring love for the Civil war (Thank you Clark Gable).
The trip was a strange one first of all because it was at Christmas. For as long as I could remember, we'd stayed in town for Christmas Eve because brother and I were in some church service or another. If we traveled, it was on Christmas Day and then to our grandparents' homes. Second, it was strange because we hadn't taken a major vaca in several years.
But Donna had the Blue Car (A car that would later burst into flames on the way home from Brother's driving test...but that's not what killed the car ultimately. The car died three years later on that magical trip from New Ulm Minnesota to Wisconsin. You know the one.) packed and an itinerary planned, courtesy of Triple A Triptik (In the days before Garmin, Tom Tom and the Internet, all we had was Triple A) Danny at the wheel (Brother couldn't drive yet and I was...a girl.) we headed out.
Our first stop was in Kankakee, IL. You know, romantic Kankakee. Well that first day was just a driving day anyway. Packed in a car with my mother's "snacks" and my dad's democratic way of radio sharing (Everyone makes a cassette tape and we will listen to them in order. No, Sarah, we're not listening to your loud crash bang music.) a big reason why even today I love the musical stylings of Roger Whitaker.
We got to the Hotel No Name late that night. Really late. Now, my mom had asked for a non smoking room. My dad, a former smoker, always gets sick at the smell of smoke now, and Brother and I hadn't gotten over the "Sniff your Brother" years. (Oh, I haven't told you that story, have I. Well, that's for another day.)
The room we got, the room all four of us SHARED at Hotel No Name was a non smoking room in the sense that no smokers were sleeping in it at the same time we were.
That wasn't the worst of our problems, not by far. See, I'm a very light sleeper, and I don't fall asleep easily. In the days before Tylenol PM, I would often fall asleep only when completely exhausted. On the flip side, my father is a very loud snorer. And, oh yes, I grind my teeth, something that makes my mother insane. I once woke up, at the age of 9, with her trying to tie a silk scarf around my neck and slip it between my teeth. I'm not making a word of this up.
So, putting the snorer, the light sleeper/tooth grinder who lives in fear that her mother, who loathes dentist bills above all things, will try to jam something into her mouth, and the mother who is just waiting for that first sound of scraping in the same room meant that NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE got any sleep.
We sat around the hotel room, watching bad TV (in the days before Cable) and eating the one sweet thing in Donna's bag of "Snacks."
Yes. The three of us (Donna was too sensible for this sort of thing) ate and entire jar of prunes. A big jar too, not that wimpy little prepackaged, oh these aren't prunes these are small plums packet. No, Danny, Brother and I ate nearly two pounds of prunes.
It should not have surprised one single person when, at about 4 AM, we all awoke to the delightful sounds of our own farts.
"Global Gas," Brother called it.
Oh, and my mom's system is very suggestive so it didn't take too much wind breaking on our part to get her to join in. There we all were, sitting in a bad hotel room in Kankakee, blowing stink at each other.
"Well, at least it covers up the smoke smell." Leave it to Danny Dull to find the silver lining.
At some point, when you're traveling with your family, manners go out the window. Locked together in a car and a hotel room long enough, all the trappings of civilization will melt away and a family of four can, and will try to destroy itself with its own flatulence.
After about a half an hour, the battle began in earnest. My mother, horrified that we were so rude, tried to ignore us until it became obvious that Brother and I were NOT going to sleep any time soon. She then booted Brother out of bed with Dad, and moved in with him. Yeah, like he smelled better. At least he was by the window, which he cracked open a bit so that unsuspecting early risers could get a whiff of the toxic air that filled our room.
Did I mention it was December?
So mom's howling for us to stop farting and be quiet and go back to sleep. Meanwhile Brother and I cannot stop laughing and farting and farting and laughing.
|Go ahead...try not to get gassy at the thought of these guys. Can't do it, can you?|
NOTHING fuels a forceful flatulent free for all quite like an hour or two of the Three Stooges.
I haven't been back to Kankakee since that trip. But I cannot look at a prune even now, all these years later, without thinking about that nasty hotel room and farting with my brother in the early hours of the morning.
And that was only day one of that trip!