so, dudes, i had roughly 4,000 christmases this year, and all of them were basically awesome. and since i'm doing this whole 'getting back to posting' thing, i see no better way to start than by recapping the collected awesome.first but by no means foremost: my work christmas party.
i've managed, over the last two years, to be in las vegas and key west during this; alas, i had no such tropical luck this year, and wound up on the campus of lovely gustavus adolphus university instead. and around which campus i drove roughly 4.5 times the circumference of the whole thing looking for the appropriate building, since i failed to do things like 'check the invite' or 'study a map of a place i'd never been before' prior to going. once i landed, though, it was all worth it, if only because our entertainment was a dad-and-daughter singing team with a
band-in-a-box set, who sang discomfitingly creepy duets like 'jackson' in between slightly forced holiday cheer. all in all, though, it beat working.and then, there was jenni's work christmas party, which is basically the complete opposite of mine.
longtime readers around here know the drill: her boss goes all out and then some, buying dinner and (lots of) drinks for the staff + significant others, then giving her employees a bunch of free money and sending the whole crew out into the wilds of the mall of america with a mandate to buy as much shit as possible as quickly as possible, before reconvening, sharing all the details, and getting wildly drunk until going to the company-purchased hotel rooms.
we were, clearly, up to the challenge, even after some champagne, and some rum, and some manhattan-in-a-can (not recommended), and some manhattan-in-a-glass (recommended), and wound up with a very nice bottle of cabo wabo, tickets to see reel big fish and p.o.s., and the guitar hero world tour band set. due to a couple odd twists and turns, i also discovered just how far a fat kid can carry a giant box of plastic instruments around the country's biggest mall: 1.5 times, before feeling like collapsing.with work out of the way, it was family time.
we swapped gifts at home first, since they were just right there under the tree, after all, and the next day hit jenni's family's house for our fourth pre-christmas-christmas. it was my first holiday (aside from thanksgiving) out there, and was a ton of fun. in addition, as an only child myself, i spent the better part of a couple hours being amazed by the exponential increase in the size of the wrapping paper pile when there's six people opening gifts.
after that excellent evening of gifts and jenni's dad telling cop stories, i had to schlep to work for another day before departing to my parents' place for my one out-of-town christmas of the year. 'twas a blessedly easy day of work, and the shit-ass road conditions abated enough that i had pretty much no problem making the trip south-dakota-ward, despite my mom's fervent belief that there was basically nothing i could do to prevent instant and cold death during the long journey down paved, well-maintained and snow-free federal highways.but i made it.
after proving her wrong and hanging out for the evening, i slept in on christmas eve, waking up in time to experience a new and weird tradition: christmas eve church service in the middle of the day. as you may have gathered, i'm not a big church guy, but my parents are, and i like the tradition and the christmas-song-singing, and, to be honest, i enjoy gettin' my suit on, looking fly, and making quiet mental fun of the people who change into their nice dale earnhardt jacket for the service.
following this merriment, we headed home and awaited jenni's arrival from her last day at work; she made it, though not without the sort of knee-knocking, white-knuckle moments that happen when you go from city driving to plowing through unlit, snow-drifting roads in the actual middle of nowhere (seriously, i suspect that when you query google maps for 'nowhere,' the stretch of 212 between goodwin and kranzburg, south dakota, is what comes up). clearly, it was thus time for whiskey and pizza and presents galore, which were galoreful indeed. especially when it came to the kitchen: as a result of all the christmases, i now have: an alton brown signature salt cellar and a molcajete
(from jenni), a meat grinder for the kitchenaid and a bottle of macallan (from her fam), a new knife sharpener and probe thermometer (from the folks, among an embarrassingly large amount of other stuff), and not one but two new ice buckets for the bar.
we call that 'pimp-tastic.'
after this excellentness, we crashed, and spent all of christmas day doing very wholesome things like sudoku, learning to play pinochle, refreshing memories on how to crochet (well, that was jenni and my mom), and, aside from the vegetarian girlfriend, eating a steak the size of a baseball glove, but much more tender. friday involved way more shopping-related-things than anyone should do the day after christmas, and also an impromptu reunion of people from my high school at starbucks, a trip to the massage chairs in the watertown mall, more pinochle, and, after dinner, our annual watertown bar run. we started at watertown's
only brewpub, dempsey's, which was just utterly and completely packed with people i remembered in a vague way, all there to see my old high school buddy dan
, who i actually had no idea was playing. we attempted to check out his set, but got about five songs in before (a) my parents decided to call it a night and (b) we became immensely annoyed with the lack of anyone coming around to sell us drinks, and so, onward and upward jenni and i went ...
... to the notorious harbor bar. site of at least three fights per weekend night, former home of one of our house decorations
, and current home of 9-11pm two-for-ones and the chuck norris shot, which i can't really explain except that it's a roundhouse kick of booze. and that one was more than enough for the evening, and the energy drink component kept us going through an entire evening of watertown bar-crawl, which, every time it happens, is the funniest night out i can remember.
we decamped from the harbor pre-fight, and got home early so as to head to grandma's perilously close to 8am the next day. the drive down was long but uneventful, thankfully, and we got to spend some time with grandma -- my last remaining one, she's 99, can't see very well, and is still one of the most awesome people ever. and has a way better memory than anyone else in my family. we also showed jenni around the tiny towns and very large farms where my parents grew up, and, aside from my favorite bar ever
being closed, it generally ruled.
oh, and then there was the pheasant that flew into my dad's grill (on the car; my dad is not, to my knowledge, a gold-toothed dj), and which we carried, folded over, in said grill for like ten miles. oops.
and, finally, having re-entered civilization, it was time to hit the dakota sioux casino for a final-night-in-town blowout. which is precisely what happened, insofar as i lost $20 on slots while jenni doubled her money, and then both of us proceeded to spend 20 minutes just killing the blackjack tables. i got my original stake back in four hands, and then added another $100 to it, while jenni cashed out $80 ahead, and we went to dance with my folks and enjoy the glory of $3.75 johnnie walker blacks the rest of the night.
so, gang, if there's one thing i've learned this christmas, it's this: there are no greater gifts than friends, family and vacation ... except for a bunch of free money and really cheap scotch. p.s. if you don't want to read quite all that
, you can just go right to the damn pictures of the watertown trip.