The Peevies usually celebrate Christmas twice: once with Mr. Peevie's family, and once with my family. Both celebrations involve lots of eating, the opening of many presents, and irritation levels ranging from the I-will-mention-this-to-Mr.-Peevie-and-then-get-over-it variety to the to the hold-me-back-or-I-will-bitchslap-him/her assortment. More on the lattermost situation later.
Both celebrations also involve the driving of long distances in a tinier-by-the-minute minivan with five persons in varying stages of sleep deprivation, crankiness, constipation, and snot production. These are the times that try men's souls, these times of long-distance auto travel in sideways-blowing blizzards and patches of black ice and frequent pee stops. And the souls of women, as well.
So we have just survived our first Christmas of aught-nine; and after a day of laundry, re-packing, errand-running, and last-minute shopping, we will embark upon our second aught-nine-Noel. (Our house sitters have a large, hungry Dobermann and a loaded Remington, in case any of you Internet Lurkers out there have any funny ideas. Of course, I'm not talking to my loyal Green Room readers, who are all not merely law-abiding, but also above average in intelligence, beauty, and integrity.)
The first Christmas had a minimum of irritation and a high level of kindness, generosity, and sweetness. And--bonus!--there was no bleeding, and no broken bones! So I am bracing myself for Trouble in Christmas #2, because statistically, we are due.
Three kinds of soup simmered fragrantly on the stove, and 17 kinds of holiday cookies awaited us when we arrived in Pekin Friday night. The little cousins greeted us with joyous shouts and enthusiastic hugs. It's always curiously wonderful to me that cousins who see each other maybe three times a year have such warm and close-knit bonds with each other. Why does this happen?
On Saturday we attended the Big Game, in which little cousin Ri-Ri's team narrowly defeated the opposition in a nail-biter, 14-12. These 7- and 8-year olds are seriously cute basketball players, and some of them actually have skills. One tiny point guard on the other team dribbled like a Globetrotter, cleverly stutter-stepping his way around defenders and exploiting inadvertent picks to approach shooting range. (That's the point at which his skills more closely resembled those of a typical 8-year-old. Hence the score.)
After an unfortunate toilet-clogging situation because of yet another gigantic bowellian output from a Child Who Will Not Be Named, in which Roto-Rooter had to be called, but not until after the amateurs tried their hand at unclogging and succeeded in flooding the bathroom with fecal matter--I say, AFTER this unfortunate incident occurred, we took the kids out for some wholesome fun at Striketown in North Pekin.
I have to say--as a girl from the big city, I love this small-town bowling alley. The place was clean and friendly and uncrowded. When we arrived early in the afternoon, only two other customers were bowling in the 20-lane, out-of-the-way stand-alone building. Between the nine of us, we bowled about 16 games, rented eight pairs of shoes, drank a pitcher of Coke and about five beers--and the whole thing cost about $60.
The big winner was six-year-old cousin Tiny, with 112, as compared to my measely 102. I attribute my embarrassing micro-score to my aging, arthritic hips and the bowling ball that I carry taped to my abdomen. Mr. Peevie came through with a respectable 150-something, but he arrived late after some much-needed shoe shopping, so I'm giving Tiny the win.
And it is all about winning, isn't it?
Oh, wait. That's not very Christmasy.
Anyway, we had Christmas dinner at the SIL/BIL's lovely home overlooking a lake. SIL laid out a spread that would feed a small country, and we ate ourselves into comas. Then we opened presents from youngest to oldest, which used to put me in a good position, but now I'm one of the old folks.
The sun set on Christmas number one as we drove the three-hour distance home in about 2:40, unpacked, and got ready to to it all over again 24 hours later.
And then M. Peevie broke her leg.