When I in my kerchief and Jim in his cap settled last night for our long winter’s nap—by which I mean when we finally collapsed into bed around 1:30 for a couple hours of shuteye—I asked, “What’s the secret to being good at go-karts? Why can’t I get a better lap time?”
I’m guessin’ that question from wife to husband isn’t Christmas Eve’s most common. And maybe he was the wrong person to ask anyhow because—inexplicably—both Dustin and Mikey (Dustin's bestie) beat Jim last night when we did our night-before-Christmas go-karting. Nobody beats Jim when the game’s go-kart.
Our day-before evening festivities unfolded as such: I made a pretty decent-looking layer cake. Katelynn came over with the best goshdarn homemade cheesecake I’ve ever had (and had and then had some more). We ordered pizza. We mowed down the pizza. In the nick of time we remembered to save Nathaniel a few pieces. Nathaniel arrived. We did the Elliker’s tradish white elephant gift exchange. Mikey landed the coveted mortar ball fireworks. We divided ourselves into two SUVs. In our car Dustin vetoed my Christmas playlist. We raced go-karts. I didn’t do so good. (My shoulders are nevertheless sore. It’s an activity with some rather intense physical demands, you know.)
We came back home and did the open-one-present-before-Christmas thing that people do. When Dustin opened his badass skate shoes, he exhibited exactly the reaction I’d been giddy for. Katelynn and Nathaniel made smoothie after smoothie after sorbet with their new Vitamix, giving Jim exactly the reaction he’d been hoping for. We ate cake.
After Katelynn and Nathaniel left and and the littles went to bed, Jim and I got to work. We filled the hell outta the stockings. We moved the couches and coffee table out of the way. Jim pulled the long shop vac hose in from the garage. We inflated the human-sized hamster balls.
I’ve ever had a bit of a bad taste in my mouth about the grabby, greedy, showy nature of Christmas morning, but I made it through. There were the expected: books, candy, clothes, electronics, kitchen shit, magazines, toys. The less expected: key lime pies from Florida (a coming-to-be-classic Jim move) bullets, more fireworks. And then the totally oh-good-grief-did-that-really-happen: Dude Wipes and a cream called Fresh Balls from my father for Jim and Dustin and human hamster balls for Josie and Benjamin. They’re just what you think, and watching the kids get inside the balls and then run full speed and bang into each other in the backyard gladdens all.
2014’s overriding Christmas gift theme: Balls.
For the day’s food, Nathaniel did more Vitamixery. (Did you know that fresh pineapple, yogurt, milk, ice, and a piece of cheesecake make an oddly delicious smoothie thing?) I made my mom’s coffee cake (doubled the cake batter, Mom, and tripled the topping; worked nicely), very creamy mashed potatoes ‘specially for Dustin and Jo, and skillet cornbread that would have been better without buttermilk. (Evidently we celebrate Carbstmas.) Jim made meat.
While predictably unorthodox in practice, the day was made of what the carols go on about—family, warmth, food, stuff. I've had the Christmas date rape song "Baby It's Cold Outside" on loop in my head all day. Again and again my husband told me how happy he is. There. My Christmas wish. Fulfilled.
Hope it was happy, y’all.