26 December 2007

CHRISTMAS 2007: Fah-ra-ra-ra-RAH!

Or, in the vernacular of another blogger:
Hampton Inn, 9:35 p.m. My Cookie's Fortune, Let Me Read You It.

Saturday, I took Seraphim over to meet her parents at the Cracker Barrel in Dublin, Ga. She was going back over there with 'em until I would join the rest of the clan later on Christmas Eve. First, I had to work (although a short day) on Monday. Plus, I needed to get caught up on some stuff, and get the house spiffy'ed up for the arrival of Tiger, and our nephew Boogie.

So. It all started Christmas Eve afternoon, when, after getting off of work (not to be confused with "getting off ON work"), I started toward the wilds of Albany, Georgia (pronounced "all-BINNY jaw-juh"). Most folks pronounce this city's name the way it's said in New York. But the "old timers" put the accent on the last syllable, calling it "all-BINNY" ... I like it, for some twisted reason, and will catch myself calling it that from time to time. But of course, I have another name for the city: Pine Bluff, Georgia. Trust me, if you've been to that Arkansas "city", you know what I mean. Let's just say that we can easily feel like grains of salt in a big-ass pile of pepper, and leave it at that.

The in-laws, however, live outside The 'Binny in a place called Putney. It's a tranquil aggregation of two convenience stores, a liquor store and a Subway along US-19. And one of the neighborhoods off of said 19 includes the dwelling where my wife's parents live (and my SIL with her two kids, since they're friggin' HOMELESS ..... but that's another rant).

ANYhoo, since the house is, ummmm, more than a bit full, and bedding arragements maxed out (room - barely - for one of us, but not both), we booked a room at the Hampton Inn for the 24th. And seeing as how we had enough Hilton Honors points for a free room, we paid a grand total of $.00 for the privilege.

Seraphim had already checked into the room when I got there, and we then had a dilemma on our hands. It's after 6:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Actually, it was after 9 PM. Most all eatin' places were already locked down for the holiday. Even Steak 'n' Shake. I had the mistaken assumption that Albany had a specimen of the restaurant species Alwaysopennus Dennybus. Nope, no Denny's. Ass out of me. Not Seraphim. I'll take the hit.

The only place open for dining at 9:15 p.m. appeared to be the Krystal drive-thru. Go ahead and give me the whole golldurned pack of "Rolaids" just for the idea. What's more, the line of cars was spilling out onto the street. Seriously.

We continued along Dawson Road, and by now I was settling for a suppertime fate of uncooked brown & serve rolls from the next open convenience store we saw.

But then my wife looked toward a strip center we were passing, and she made a profound observation: "Great Wall of China is open!" Suddenly, a meal of cashew chicken and steamed white rice entered my head. And Seraphim was now jonesin' for some mixed veggies. Yes! Chinese food on Christmas Eve!

As I turned into the parking lot, I recalled that scene from A Christmas Story .... the one in the Chinese restaurant. "Fah-ra-ra-ra-raaaah!"

Thankfully, it wasn't all that crowded. Just two folks ahead of us, waiting for their orders. We placed ours, and in the usual tee-mee-net, we had our vittles and were on our way back to the hotel. Drinks were already covered; my wifely one had a Coke waiting for me in the room fridge.

I ate my steamed rice and cashew chicken (ordered without veggies - just the squab 'n' nuts 'n' sauce, yummm yum!), we had ourselves a Christmas Eve dinner that could NOT be beat, and we went to bed, and didn't get up until the very next morning, when we were paid a visit by Officer Santa.

No, what really happened was we ate our food, and then it came time for the fortune cookie.

Ah yes, the Chinese restaurant fortune cookie. Always full of generic, passe and trite happy-happy Pollyanna fortunes. Oh, and your 'winning' Lotto numbers on the other side of the little slip.

I cracked open my cookie, expecting the above. And I got a pleasant surprise........

Holy crap, I don't think I've ever before had a fortune cookie read my cotton-pickin' mind.

Christmas morning, we were at the in-laws, and after that I went up toward Columbus where I met Whatzername and she "passed the Tiger baton." We met the rest of the crew at "Grandmother's" house (Seraphim's maternal grandmother) ... and, with "Rupert" all loaded up, we started back toward Rincon. Left about 6:50 and, after a mostly rainy trip, got back home just before 11:00.

It was a surreal trip. I was driving, Seraphim was up front, and we had two kids and a dog in the backseat. For nearly four hours, it felt like an alternate reality: that we were a nice, complete, not broken, happy family.

Today we're just hanging out. Tiger is in his room playing the bass part from "Come Together", our nephew Boogie and Aunt Sera are watching something on Toon Disney, and I'm finishing up a blog. This evening will be dinner and a movie. Movie is TBA; we have to see what Movie Gallery has on their shelves.

Tomorrow I'm working, and will meet the rest of 'em for supper at Ci Ci's. Then we'll pair off -- Seraphim will take Boogie to Toys R Us to let him spend his gift card; Tiger and I will head down to Circuit City so he may annihilate his gift card from his uncle, and the other little money gifts he received. My calculations show he'll have a grand total of $185 to spend there. Or $125 to spend elsewhere. He's hankerin' for a new MP3 player. I believe 185 smackers'll do the trick.

It was an interesting Christmas. But dammit to hell and back, I'm glad 12/25 is over with!!!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Chillin" Gleck

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