Well the holidays are over and I made my usual trek to some regional airport, this round Lambert-St. Louis, to drop my daughter off for her flight back to LaGuardia on the waterfront of Bowery Bay in Flushing, N.Y. From there she’ll grab a cab or an Uber and head to, what I’m sure, is a seedy apartment where her share of rent for a two-bedroom is comparable to my mortgage.
Our family time was extended by two days thanks to what’s being called a bombogenesis. That’s a real word…Google it….defined in simple terms as a weather bomb where rapidly intensifying low pressure systems, typically in the winter, reek havoc on places usually along the eastern seaboard, but hypothetically anywhere.
Anyhoo, I love having my 24-year-old home for the holidays. It worries me a bit that she can take two weeks off from work in a city where a single person making $16/hour is in all likelihood living in poverty. But she makes my heart swell. And to make this even better my youngest daughter, too, was home for the holidays. Now a sophomore at the University of Iowa, she made the empty nest, a full nest with mom and pop as proud as peacocks.
(Speaking of peacocks, has anyone else almost run over those beautiful birds on the way back from West Point on J40 right before the new bypass ramps? Cocky birds just strut right out in front of you, with no care in the world that my wife’s FJ Cruiser would make them go poooof!)
The baking ensues and we inevitably end up with a dining room full of cookies, Greek crescents, fudge, krispy treats, and then an all-out battle royale takes place over the strawberry pretzel salad. I’m still on my quest to beef up (see Jason Momoa) so I went easy this year. But in years past, I could be seen on the living room floor with a fork and the whole 12″x 9″ pan on the floor protecting it with elbows and bigger shoulders than the girls. To give you a better picture, think of the pride lion with all the other lions impatiently waiting their turn.
The girls watch Christmas movies from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve, always ending with A Christmas Story. Then we move to the kitchen to decorate sugar cookies for Santa and holiday snacking. When that’s done and cleaned up, we set out the treats for the fat man and the girls rush upstairs (keep in mind – 24 and 18 years old) and sleep in the same bed, like they have done since we moved into this house 12 years ago.
They wake us up at 7 a.m. This year I was extremely tired and the girls literally scared me awake staring at me from about three feet away. Even on Christmas…that’s creepy.
A hush falls over the bedroom as I feel for a pulse. They stand shoulder to shoulder with their hands folded under their chins. They look at me with eyes wide open (again 24 AND 18!) without saying a word, their body language to me says, “Sorry for scaring you, but there’s like…presents and stuff downstairs….so can we move this along.”
“ummm…merry christmas?” they eeked out.
Lee gives me a push. “They’re excited! It’s Christmas.”
The morning follows with coffee and unwrapping presents. The oldest won’t throw the paper away as we go. She, and this is no exaggeration at all, lets it all pile up around her because, “I like the way it looks with the color paper all over the place.”
We shower and head to my brothers where breakfast is served and the extended family presents are opened. Without fail a niece or nephew will get a gift from an aunt and uncle that gets a “Why” look from a brother or sister.
This year was the “one-step further” take on the Pie in the Face game. This one has a toilet and instead of risking a whipped cream pie in the face you have to take turns flushing what I like to call a Toy-let and run the risk of getting… well you get the picture. If you don’t get it, go buy the game.
This year we put a ping-pong table together. It took three of us boys two hours to put that horse together, but we got it done and then my 12-year-old nephew Hayden handed it to me 6 out of 7 games.
We usually come home around 8 p.m. after a few rounds of Trivia Pursuit, boys vs. girls, and then an epic crash takes place.
From that moment until Dec. 31 at about 6 p.m., we literally watch movies, this year a six-day Al Pacino binge. I couldn’t take it, I had to go the YMCA just to get a break from the craziness. Taylor is constantly on the run in New York City and Kelsey was running all the time trying to make the Dean’s List as a Hawkeye, so when they come home, it’s sofa city sweetheart. Full on couch potatoes.
I watched Panic in Needle Park, a greasy, low budget film where Pacino’s character and his girlfriend get hooked on smack…yeah, that’s about it. Not my favorite, Author! Author! was on every night after we went upstairs to bed. We can hear, “Comin’ home to you’s like comin’ home to milk and cookies..”
We did Heat, Scarface, Sea of Love, Scent of a Woman, Cruising, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, The Godfathers I and II, and then a rehash of all of them including a splash of Justice for All…”You’re out of order!”
I personally like the new Pacino films. Heat was one of his best ever, but Scent of a Woman is the purist Pacino.
I was so sick of this Italian I had to move to the kitchen a couple times to check my email or just have a beer.
But Saturday came and we packed her all up telling her two or three times to double check everything. She routinely calls us when she lands having had time to decompress on the plane and ultimately remembering something she left in the bathroom.
But now she’s gone, landed in LaGuardia about 30 minutes before we made it home from St. Louis.
“So. . .funny story,” she says when she called to let us know she landed. I thought she was gonna tell me she sat next to Clark Kellogg, a standout hoops player at Ohio State in the mid-80s and now a CBS analyst for NCAA college basketball. Kellogg shuffled quietly by me in the security line as I waited for my daughter to get through security at the Southwest terminal. My wife said, “I think that’s Kareem Abdul Jabbar!” – I just really love her.
No, it wasn’t a Kellogg serial (See what I did there!).
“Dad, can you ship me my keys? I left them on the dryer.”
Hey Chiefs fans…whaaaaat?! But that’s Beside the …. haa-haaaaaaaaa!!!