December 27, 1999


I should be unpacking right now.

Actually, there is a TON of stuff I "should" be doing right now. I "should" be writing thank-you e-mail to assorted family members. I "should" be cleaning out the fridge. I "should" be transferring all the important irreplaceable files on my hard drive to disk. (No, not because of Y2K,  but because my Acer *Aspire* Y2KMA is making those ominous screwdriver-in-the-pencil-sharpener noises again, and I know it's only a matter of days before it finally departs for That Great CPU Repository in the Sky. And before it does, I "should" probably be thinking of ways to save my precious collection of Baby Boomer Chat Room Logs, Circa 1995-1999.)

I "should" be finishing my Christmas tape for The Grillaz ... especially since the tape exchange was *my* idea in the first place.

(Some may say I "should" be at the office right now, transcribing 43,897,621 cranky unintelligible voicemail messages from Franz. But I'm not. Thank god I had the foresight, last month when I was planning my Christmas trip to TicTac, to apply for an extra day off. I figured I was going to need the additional day to decompress emotionally ... and, as it turns out, I was absolutely right.)

Should, should, should, should, should, should, should. All of this stuff I SHOULD be doing.


The thing is ... I promised David that even if I did nothing else productive today, I would at least get my suitcases unloaded and off the living room floor. We have enough problems navigating around this microscopic apartment as it is  --  around the bicycle parked in the dining room, past the guitar stand next to the bookcase  --  without my American Touristers (a birthday gift this year from my mom) plunked smack-dab in the middle of everything, overflowing with Christmas presents and dirty laundry.

"I'm not sure where I'm gonna put everything," I told him last night. "But I'll work on it."

But so far it has been extremely slow-going.

Mostly I've spent my morning drinking coffee out of my Old Navy coffee mug, scanning Polaroids of the Tots and The World's Cutest Nephew and listening to Feef's "A Guerrilla Looks at Christmas 99."

Every couple of minutes or so, I wander over to the suitcase and pull a couple more items out of the mess. Two candles shaped like Christmas trees. A pair of Old Navy socks, gray with blue and white stripes. An "Olive the Other Reindeer" shopping bag from Nordstrom's, too cute to throw away. An Old Navy keychain. Four new photo albums. A bottle of Mary Kay Moisturizing Body Spray. The new Nora Roberts novel. An Old Navy sweatshirt. Two pairs of dirty pantyhose. A Case Logic CD holder. Half a Tobler Chocolate Orange. A couple of Old Navy refrigerator magnets.*

* Have I mentioned that Daughter #1 works at Old Navy?

The irony, of course, is that it took me approximately four and a half minutes to PACK the damn thing last week: I just tossed a toothbrush and a bathrobe into the bag, and I was ready to fly. And now, at the rate I'm going, it's going to NEXT Christmas before we have room to walk around our living room again.

But here's the good news:

Christmas '99 did not completely suck.

In fact, I might even go out on a limb here and say that it was the best Christmas we've had in ... four? five years? ... possibly even longer than that. (Since before "Mom" started Zip-Code-hopping, anyway.)

I think one reason this holiday season went so well is that I went into it with absolutely zero expectations, one way or the other. I was neither optimistic nor pessimistic. I just figured that I would do as much of the grunt work in advance as possible, keep in mind what's important and what isn't, try not to let little things get to me ... and hope for the best.

It worked.

Also, money wasn't quite as much of a problem this year as it has been in years past. (Read this: the years we depended on the Food Bank to provide presents for the Tots.)  While I wouldn't say it was an extravagant Christmas, exactly, it was more materially-fortunate than some I can remember.  We gave the Tots a new computer ... Son #Only got his new Dreamcast ... I was able to slip a nice fat check into each stocking.   (AND I was able to pay for my own airline tickets this year, without having to ask my family to help out.)

I know that money isn't really what Christmas is all about ... neither are presents ... but it certainly helps.

Karen, Debi & Terri ~ Christmas Eve 1999

Another thing that helped make this a better-than-average holiday -- as bizarre as this may sound -- is that I came down with a horrible cold, two days before I was due to fly north. It was inevitable. David has been battling a weirdly-tenacious upper respiratory infection for almost two months now, since the beginning of November ... plus, Franz has been sneezing on me for most of the last month ... and between the two of them I figured it was only a matter of time before *I* succumbed. I was sorta hoping to schedule it for January, once the holidays were safely behind us, but I woke up the morning of the 21st with a tickle in my throat and a nose full of snot, and I knew this was "it." Rather than allowing it to ruin my holidays, though -- or anyone else's, for that matter -- I used it as a reason to lay low and take things easy and spend some quality time with the Tots. We watched movies, and ate japapeño potato chips, and wrapped presents ... and talked. I didn't have the energy for much else, but like I said -- I think it actually IMPROVED the quality of our time together, because it forced me to just stop and do nothing for a few days.

We enjoyed low-key visits on Christmas Eve with the extended family, including my parents and my siblings  and The World's Cutest Nephew (who -- at six months -- is infinitely more interested in the wrapping paper & ribbons than he is the gifts they contain).. On Christmas morning, Son #Only and I got up before everyone else and hooked up the new 'puter. Later that morning we all sat under the tree and opened presents. The Ex-Husband cooked a ham for dinner.

Normal, traditional *family stuff.* Which is pretty amazing, when you consider the fact that our family is neither "normal" nor "traditional." ("Mom" lives in California, and she and "Dad" have been divorced for two years.)  I think we've all just reached a point, in our evolution as a family, where we're able to let go of some of the hurt from years past. The fact that I can spend four days under the same roof with my ex-husband -- with our children -- and celebrate Christmas without wanting to spit in each other's coffee or kill each other totally dead is, I think, nothing short of a miracle.

And that probably had as much to do with making this a decent Christmas as anything else.

Terri & her Tots ~ Christmas 1999

There is lots more I could write about this afternoon  --  lots more I "should" write about -- but the fact is that I'm still feeling residually snotty (take that as you will) and worn-out from the festivities of the past few days ...

... plus I still have half a Tobler Chocolate Orange," calling my name ...

... so that's probably all for now. If I catch a second wind I may come back and throw some of the Christmas Polaroids onto the website: if not, I'll get to it when I get to it.

Now if you'll excuse me ... I have some unpacking to do.

self-important blurb #1 will go HERE: ironically, one of my very-favorite christmas presents this year came from ... the ex-hub. he overheard me talking to my mother on christmas eve, about the much-ballyhooed, long-lost christmas tapes ... and he said, "i think i know where they are." apparently he'd stored them away in the attic a few years ago & forgotten all about them!! when he handed me the box of tapes, the next morning -- "are these the ones you were talking about?" he asked -- i burst into tears.

self-important blurb #2: on the twelfth day of christmas, my true love gave to me ...

... a piano!

details to follow soon.

special *howdy* to:  my pal brucie, who is probably convinced by now that i have totally forgotten about him ... but who is very much in my thoughts ... and in my heart.

a year ago

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
what did santa bring you this year?
if it was a tobler chocolate orange, i don't wanna hear about it.

amazingly profound thought of the day: i probably *should* look up an Amazingly Profound Thought of the Day ...