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The Dénouement
2007-12-26, 4:12 p.m.

Day 1221

That’s the right word, isn’t it – dénouement? That part after the climax when you light up cigarettes and ask “Was it good for you too?”

Only I’d rather skip the smoke part. But a little post climax analysis might be a useful, if not a little painful experience.

We went almost completely untraditional this year. Except the part with the breakfast strada. Still had that. The kids would have mutinied if we skipped that part. But present opening time? Was NOT pre-dawn. Was NOT before multiple cups of coffee. Also was NOT a chaotic mess. Much. It was also the first year we had openers arriving from their own place. That’ll take 6.3 nano seconds to get used to.

So the present opening went well. I fear Cindy will be taking one item I got her back for exchange. I got in a bind between size and price and ended up picking an item I was pretty sure she’d not like because of the color. Cindy doesn’t do blue. Period. Me? I think it would work great. Matches her eyes. Plus – now that she has one of these items I won’t have to hear her griping about how “I don’t have any decent blah blah blah to wear”. Fixed THAT wagon. As long as she can get it exchanged.

Had The Bob with us for Christmas too. Being an ex-photographer, he had tens of thousands of photographs stored in various places. When he moved to his present housing, he had to start making some decisions about what to do with those photos. As you can imaging, it was a daunting task. Throw in a bit of Alzheimer’s and it was impossible. He’s been shuffling through photo’s for the last 18 months. There are waaaaaayyy fewer than there were in the beginning, but we were starting to fear that he was tossing out some good stuff. Frustration being what it is and all. So a couple of weeks ago, we grabbed the two largish containers he was using for his photo storage/sorting. (A Rubbermaid tote, 10 – 12 gallon size, flat – slides under a bed. No lid. And some whacked out leather encased box that alternately houses his camera, pictures, his coin collection or some CD’s he no longer plays)

ANYHOW. We grabbed his misfit containers and said “Dad, let us take these home and sort through them for you. We can organize them and find a way to make them more enjoyable for you.” The relief he displayed was palpable. You could see tension and frustration just drain from his face. It was like finally, someone was going to get rid of the one last thing he couldn’t figure out how to handle.

We trotted off with his remaining 30 plus pounds of photos and got to work. Gah, what a job. No wonder he was flummoxed. Here we were, rational, sane (mostly) people with functioning memory (again, mostly), and holy shit people!! Thousands and thousands of photos. Some were repeats. I saw at least 20 copies of Cindy’s family portrait from back in 65 or so – all Leave it to Beaver style. There were photos mf my MIL’s paintings (she was an accomplished landscape artist. Hundreds of folks have her paintings on their walls. We only have our share) Family photos, pics of friends, reunions, wedding shots, old cars (‘42 Ford anyone? Their wedding get-away vehicle apparently)

We shopped around and got some huge frames all matted out to be like a collage. Last week we sat down one night an spent 5 hours sorting and building collages. Got 2 done that night, did 2 more over the weekend. One featured my MIL, one was just kids & grandkids, another was extended family, but nothing newer than 15 years old (no Daguerreotypes though) and another was more recent extended family shots. Bob’s reaction upon opening them was priceless. Of all the presents opened yesterday, I think those had the biggest impact on Cindy, Bob and myself. The kids recognized it too. We could have spent thousands of dollars and not pleased Bob a thousandth as much. By the time he got down to the one that featured Maerian (not a typo) he was literally in tears. With a few hours effort (ok – 12 or so, but man, it was fun!), we were able to rid Bob of an onus he didn’t know how to handle (30 pounds of pics) and put the best of the best in a media and format he can enjoy for the rest of his, hopefully numerous, days. Best present was ever involved in giving.

Wow. That was the long was to say we swiped all of Bob’s pictures and made collages out of the best of them, huh?

Supposed to hear about Zach’s bigger present today. Got him a stand big enough for his TV. It’s part of a bigger entertainment unit that he can add to over the years. It’s weird getting your kid furniture for Christmas. It’s weirder that he liked it. What’s also weird is that we got Zach and Jill a cast iron Dutch Oven. Jill thought it was a cute pot, Zach was like “Wow, an enameled, cast iron Dutch oven!! Guess we know who cooks dinner in their house. (Of course he’s my kid – he cooks!)

Eric got his Xbox so we may never see him again. Side note – Guitar hero is tougher than it looks, even on “easy”. We finally got HD service for our own TV. People – it is amazing. Tonight we get to see out first hockey game in high def. I really can’t wait.


The untraditional part? Possibly our new tradition? The main meal. Didn’t have ham, no turkey, no prime rib or lobster. Just did ribs. Six hours in the smoker, low ‘n slow. Roasted potato salad, Dinosaur BBQbeans. Not your usual Christmas dinner. Buy ya know? The ribs are pretty low maintenance once they’re going, the potato salad can be done up the night before and the beans? 30 minutes of actual work and however long you like in a crock pot. Makes for a simple meal that leaves time for family stuff. Like getting stomped at Guitar Hero. Even on a song I knew. Trajedy.

Only bad news? Cindy was drunk when I got home from bowling Thursday. I avoided her for the remainder of the evening. Rather than tell her I was upset that she’d been drinking, I managed to offend her enough in other ways that she took the hint and left me alone. Pretty mature, wasn’t it? Sunday night? Maybe Christmas eve night, Cindy was slugging down the coffee. I think she didn’t notice that I wasn’t sitting in my usual spot, and I caught her creaming her coffee with a wee bit of Baileys. Not a big deal normally, but is was an airplane sized bottle she’d received as a gift at work, and she was hiding it in a dining room hutch. I didn’t know it was Baileys till I went and checked. It just seemed odd to me that she’d needed anything out of that particular hutch, especially that section of it, for her coffee. I don’t think there was enough in that bottle (what, 2 oz maybe?) to do any damage. It’s the fact she was hiding it that really bugs me. More evidence of her denial. Suppose I ought to end my own enabling and call her on it next time it’s obvious.

I am bushed today. Dragged my carcass to spin class this morning, only to be reminded that Pedaling with Patty is back. It’s all about the pace. Also stayed up too late last night. 11pm is too late to go to bed and expect to be able to wake up at 5am. I’ve been dragging all day. Early to bed tonight (right after the hockey game, promise!!) and back toe the gym tomorrow morning.

Plus tomorrow? Bowling again. Did ok last week. Beat my average, team took 6 of 8. Not a bad night. Hope for more of the same tomorrow.


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old habits - new tricks