The luxury of time(change).

Christmas Day 2022.

Unlike any other Christmas, ever. When I was young, Christmas morning memories are with my mom and family. At the time her second husband Jim and his daughter Angie, as well as my sister Chris. It was always a good day. Morning gifts, afternoon at grandma’s, the evening with Jim’s parents, my fathers house usually the night before. All the family we hadn’t seen since Thanksgiving.

As I got older, Christmas joy seemed to fade away into Christmas planning. Gifts to get and places to go. Instead of being carted to a half dozen events, I had to plan how to get my boys to an equal number of events for each of their families too. The last five or six years, my own family not doing much (divided across the country,) left me letting my youngest son, then still at home, develop some real Christmas traditions with his mom.

We evolved a nice routine, where he and I would visit my friends on Christmas Eve night (an annual Christmas party extraordinaire,) then spend the next morning together exchanging our gifts. An ordeal so much faster now, and much more expensive than it was a dozen years ago for him. Then, a few hundred bucks might have had him shredding wrapping paper for an hour. The same amount now is easily one gift.

After the gift giving I would usually make a French toast feast for him (same on Thanksgiving day,) to stretch out his belly with quick burning food- my trick to be able to engorge yourself on the next meal. Other than that, I was usually a pretty normal day. The last year or two, we hadn’t even taken out the Christmas tub from the basement. Yes, all Christmas decor fits in a single tub, that when taken out can be applied in about twenty minutes, and put away in the same amount of time.

We did have a tree, in fact, we reused the same one the last three years. No, it wasn’t plastic. It was real, real small. And brown the last two years. However, it did die with it’s needles and a few bulbs in place and the next year, it was still out on the porch were I had put it.. so, back up it went. Sometimes, sometimes often, I don’t mind making a fool of myself in front of my children. Maybe my own coy acknowledgment of the plight of our situation.

I didn’t want him to think I was modeling a “good Christmas” tradition as an example to follow. There are a lot of times I think I used that same thought device. My own fight against normalizing my conditions as his baseline of life. Parents cannot help but to be an example. I think our mistakes sometimes are in always promoting ourselves as a good example. So many times on a variety of issues, I’ll tell them clearly not to follow my example in life – and hopefully learn from it.

So the last few years, usually about noon or so, my son would leave for the next few days to spend with his mom. And I would, well, usually not much. Typically a quiet day when no one calls, excepting maybe a few “Merry Christmas” texts in the morning. Play on the computer maybe, smoke a bowl or two of course, and all but one year not feeling like cooking, I’ll usually just bake up a pan of pizza rolls. Merry Christmas.

Why is Christmas a day not to do what I want? I’ve always wanted a big road trip. Not that this came up because of Christmas at all, rather everything else this year, yet still, it is Christmas. It’s Jesus’s birthday, and yes, I am fully Catholic – although I am most certainly experiencing and expressing it differently lately. So, mass was not on my schedule today, as my priority is traveling right now, yet I took the time to honor the day with a feast: a lumberjack slam at Denny’s.

The place was packed and I suppose I could say the service was a bit slow, yet considering the day and the effort the whole staff put (my hot water for my tea was refilled by the cook who heated it, rather than letting it cool waiting for the waitress.) everything was great. And they had one gentleman working who seemed to do nothing the entire time (a quite diligent effort) to keep squeegeeing the water and snow slop back out the door- and opening it for the guests.

Breakfast done I hit the road and was amazed. Clear sunny skies, clean dry roads, still light traffic. Bleached looking, stained from the salt. I set the cruise on seventy five and didn’t have to adjust much at all. Not to mention the roads out here. Crossing the entire state of Illinois, I only drove across one County that had some road issues, otherwise smooth as could be. The last two days had been stressful “bareknuckle” driving, today the opposite, as relaxed as could be.

As soon as I crossed into Illinois, I found a rest stop to take a break and set my mind at ease. The next hundred and fifty miles just sailed by as I drove my window down (and heater on) listening to my favorite album, and watched my APRS packets get picked up by the local digipeaters along the way. It was a really great afternoon, thinking a lot about things I have written and still have left to write for this site.

Organization too! I want to write a lot, yet I need to consider how people are able to absorb it. Also, how to keep a regular posting schedule.. it may have to wait until I get stationary for a few days, yet I’ve got a few changes in mind to make my “Adventure” post the daily activity, that would be linked elsewhere (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) and then maybe a regular wed and Friday update or something. A reasonable amount for someone to click and read. Of course then with my extra writing time I can start to fill in more of the back story – as hard as it is, it is necessary.

The best part of the day came when I arrived in St. Louis. With a light celebration myself, I certainly hadn’t expected to receive any gifts, yet that is exactly how I felt when I saw the gateway arch. Is there a line between the East side and the Wild West? I think I have crossed it. Something I’ve always wanted and I got it on Christmas Day.

And, I received a second gift today as well. An extra hour. Welcome to CST! I will try not to use these extra hours, and will be keeping my posting deadline as nine pm Eastern time. Today though, it’s Christmas and I certainly hope everyone that I care about, everyone I hope is reading along with me each day, is as tired as I am and will likely plan to read this in the morning.

Time to rest.

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