Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Snow Daze

I have come to the conclusion that having Christmas all year long is probably not a good idea, especially if you have a two-bedroom apartment.  For a time last week, it started to feel like that's exactly what we were going to have.  We didn't know it Christmas morning, which started off quietly, with Kyle sleeping past 7:30 (for the last time in his life, I'm guessing).  Our little family then gathered around the tree and opened gifts.  I gave Jennifer a silver necklace with a pear-shaped garnet stone, and she bought me a cookie jar.  It was nice to see that, even after a decade together, we still knew the way to each other's heart.  Santa gave Kyle a drum and other noisemakers because Santa must have somehow been intoxicated when he ordered his elves to make these gifts.  That's all I could think of as my still-tired brain was trying to defend itself against a full-force maraca assault.  At some point that morning, as Kyle played with an electronic device that miraculously had become ten times louder than it was when I wrapped it, Jennifer mentioned that we were at the start of a very long day.  We didn't know then just how right she was.

By late afternoon our apartment was boiling with Christmas.  Jennifer's dad, my parents, my brother Ed, and his wife Lauren were all there, along with a mound of presents big enough to need its own zip code.  Most gifts were for our spoiled child, who spent the day impersonating a Tasmanian devil.  Everyone had a great time, as we all feasted on pigs-in-a-blanket and other snacks before settling down for a delicious meal prepared by Jennifer.  As the night wore down after Kyle went to bed, we all gathered in our living room, drinking egg nog and trying to find each other around the mounds of discarded wrapping paper and packaging.  Our search-and-rescue mission for Ed, who was trapped under a sit-and-spin box, ended early because everyone dozed off by 9 p.m., having drunk my dad's potent egg nog concoction.  We later came to and prepared the apartment for our own bedtime, setting up the sofa bed and air mattress for the parents, and throwing a couple pillows outside on the fire escape.  That's when Ed and Lauren informed us that they would be spending the night at a nearby hotel. 

We haven't seen Ed and Lauren since, as they wisely escaped New York City early Sunday morning because they had to be at work the next day.  They had become a little concerned about the weather, after meteorologists on TV tweaked their forecast.  Instead of saying that Sunday was going to be "mostly sunny," as they had been all week, they were now calling for an "angry monster blizzard of doom."  We laughed it off because there was still plenty of food and egg nog left, and nobody else was planning on leaving that day.  As the wind and snow thrashed at our building like a rich brat who didn't get that pony for Christmas, I was still confident that everyone would still be able to leave by Tuesday, and Jennifer and I would then enjoy a much-needed quiet vacation at home.  Besides, we lived in New York City.  "Just wait until you see the roads tomorrow," I said.  "You'll be surprised by just how quickly they're cleared."

Monday morning, my dad and I left the apartment to get everyone doughnuts for breakfast.  We didn't make it out the front gate.  This is what it looked like:

Hmph.  I had plans to drive my father-in-law to the airport that day, so I checked to see how my car fared through the storm...

 ... not so good.  Turns out I didn't need my car, as my father-in-law's flight was canceled.  He rescheduled his departure... for Thursday.  On Tuesday, our street still looked like this:

Very similar to the day before.  The only difference is that Tuesday was the day my parents were planning to leave.  Their car is on the left-hand side of that picture, the second one in, next to the 20 inches of snow STILL ON THE ROAD.  They were not going anywhere.  In our seven years living in New York, we've never seen anything like this.  It was as if we were vacationing in the same place where we had our last week off.  New York City suddenly and inexplicably became just as skilled as Aruba in handling a snowstorm.

Now I was beginning to wish we hadn't finished off all those pigs-in-a-blanket.  My dad and I plodded through the snow and grabbed take-out lunches for everyone at one of the few diners open that day.  It's a good thing, too.  Otherwise, we'd be stuck eating some of Kyle's freeze-dried fruit and yogurt drops (we have both peach and mixed berry, so at least there would be some variety).  We later made an emergency run to the supermarket, and that evening my dad made an emergency egg nog concoction. 

The arrival of all this snow meant we weren't getting the apartment to ourselves until the 30th, five days after Christmas.  Fortunately, everyone in our family gets along very well.  Unfortunately, they all brought luggage and have a tendency to need to use the bathroom.  They also don't know our electronics as well as I do.  I had to give a 45-minute lesson on how to use our TV remotes, and at one point someone trying to turn on the Christmas tree lights accidentally shut down the whole entertainment system.  There was a lot of tending to this and that, and a lot of answering to "while you're up" requests.  The apartment seemed to shrink in size as time went on, and our living room was annexed by Kyle's bedroom. 

I still love being a host, but this week was a little more than I had bargained for.  The week I envisioned had Jennifer and me sitting on the couch late into each day, wearing our pajamas and bath robes, drooling in front of the TV while Kyle sat in a corner, playing with his new maracas.  Showers would happen late in the day, by choice and not because that's the only time the bathroom was available.  Of course, this week wasn't what our guests expected, either.  They were eager to get back to their own homes, their own beds, and their own phonographs.  But we all made the best of the situation and enjoyed the time we had together.  Nobody left our apartment maimed or killed.  On Thursday the roads were cleared, and the place was ours again.  It's peaceful now.  I am still very much looking forward to the next time everyone gets together, but I'm glad it will happen in the snow-free month of June, six months from now, as we celebrate our child's birth day.

One final note: before the snowstorm, before all the relatives visited, before the presents were opened, and before the last pig-in-a-blanket was eaten, we spent Christmas Eve with our good friends Mickey and Bonni.  We went to Christmas Eve Mass together and then dined on exquisite Chinese food.

Turns out this was the last time we would see them as a child-free couple.  On Sunday, January 2, Mickey and Bonni welcomed little Julia into the world.  Jennifer and I are ecstatic.  Mickey and I have known each other since high school, and we became best of friends in college.  He's one of the funniest people I know, and he's just an all-around great person.  Back in July, I wrote a bit about the support he and my close friend Matt have given me through these first years of fatherhood.  There's no way to describe just how much that has meant to me.  As I've said before, I now hope to return the favor.  As for Bonni, I've known for more than a decade now that she is the perfect match for Mickey.  She's caring, thoughtful, and a ton of fun to be around.  The four of us can enjoy each other's company for hours, or even days, and they're terrific with Kyle.  They are two of our absolute favorite people, and Julia certainly has a great advantage over many other kids, being blessed with Bonni and Mickey as her Mommy and Daddy.

1 comment:

JoannaP said...

Best line ever - like a rich brat who didn't get that pony for Christmas.