As mentioned in an earlier blog entry, the holiday break and the 1st day of winter was kicked off with a gathering of motorcycle riding friends for a 50-mile tour of homes that were decorated for the holidays on the evening of December 21st. Debbie was still busy doing her Christmas shopping so it was a solo event for me so a good time, but not a great time… as all of my great times are the ones I spend sharing with Miss Debbie.
December 22nd was officially my last work day and since the building was pretty much empty by noon I decided to burn a few vacation hours of my own and headed out early so that I could get Debbie something for her Christmas stocking, even though we’d agreed that the new Honda Accord was a Christmas present. But, I also managed to get in a short bicycle ride as the weather was just too nice not to get in a little exercise.
Our family Christmas with the kids was on December 23rd. We had Wesley, Julie and the three girls — Caroline, Charlotte and Vivian — over for dinner and shortly thereafter Charlie & Christy joined us for an exchange of gifts. As usual, there were way too many gifts and at least one seemingly cute musical gift that quickly took on the qualities of the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland where, by the end of the ride, most adults never, ever wanted to hear the song “It’s a Small World” again. The kids surprised me with an over-the-top gift package that included a nice bottle of Patron Silver tequila and some very interesting Himalayan salt shot-glasses.
The following is a collection of “action shots” from the gift exchange in our living room.
The girls finished the night with a game of Twister, where even Vivian got into the act.
On December 24th Debbie and I were able to carve out enough time for a short tandem ride in between last-minute shopping, a burger at The Red Eye’d Mule and getting ready for a small gathering of friends for Christmas Eve dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse with Bobbie & Carrie Ann, Ryan & Jeanette, David, Matt, Patti and Brad. It was a great evening with great friends!
On December 25th we were both up early so that we could prepare an appetizer for the annual noon-time Christmas pot-luck at Debbie’s mother’s house. Debbie drove over and I rode over on Blue, our Harley Road King, so that Debbie could stay as long as she needed or wanted to without worrying about me getting antsy about heading back home to various projects and preparations for our road trip to Pennsylvania on December 26th. Debbie’s mother’s house was filled to over-flowing where kids and grandkids now easily out number the adults. Thankfully, it was a lovely day so the kids were able to go outside and play between meals and gift exchanges. We were able to visit with Jacob for a while during our visit, so that was an extra special treat that we always look forward to.
As mentioned, on December 26th we made the 11.5 hour / 780 mile drive from our home near Atlanta to my folks home near Reading, Pennsylvania. Traffic was light for the 1st half of the drive, but filled-in around noon as many folks were back to work and/or back to hauling loads on the day after the Christmas holiday weekend. We arrived around 5:30pm and enjoyed some cocktails and dinner at home. It made for a very relaxing evening after a long day behind the wheel of the car.
The balance of our time there was split between me doing a little work on my computer each day, installing a wireless signal transmitter/receiver that my Uncle had gotten his sister / my mother for Christmas, getting a wireless printer working with Bill’s laptop and then moving a few pieces of firewood closer to the house in the event Bill wanted to build a fire this winter. We also went out and ran some errands on Tuesday and went out to dinner on Wednesday evening, but for the most part just enjoyed some quiet time at the house. Sadly, just one day into our visit both Debbie and I came down with very bad colds that had us dealing with lots of sinus drainage, sore throats and at least for me a follow-on chest cold: Yup, I’ve got the full-blown crud once again. I swear, I seem to get this every Christmas and I’d love to know who keeps giving this to me!!
As mentioned in some previous blog entries, I’ve began wearing kilts as a regular casual wear back in October. I typically wear then when we head out on weekend visits to Loco Willy’s or other social events and for the most part have been well-received or, at least tolerated. However, ahead of the holiday’s I treated myself to a Christmas present of a formal kilt outfit with a new kilt and fly plaid in the family (Wallace) tartan.
I thought my mother would appreciate having a chance to see me in the outfit in person rather than in photos so I packed a garment bag with all of the bits and pieces that make up a very formal kilt outfit, i.e., kilt, pleated dress shirt w/stainless button studs and cufflinks, Prince Charlie jacket & vest, bow tie, fly plaid & brooch, formal fur sporran, kilt pin and hose with plaid flashes and black dress shoes. Over-the-top? Perhaps, but I think she really enjoyed having a chance to see me in our family’s traditional attire and tartan, as well as in my utility kilts at other times during our visit.
Speaking of our visit, on our drive-home day we woke up to a blanket of damp white stuff, something that’s almost become a regular occurrence during our annual Christmas visit. While it wasn’t technically a white Christmas, we did get to enjoy a winter wonderland scene before heading on our way south.
The drive home would have been uneventful if a few too many motorists didn’t seem to enjoy putting other motorists at risk by passing on the right and ‘diving into’ the very marginal 1-second buffer space that motorists try to maintain from the car ahead of them. Seriously, it’s no wonder that there are so many mass auto accidents popping up in the news these days. Sadly, I suspect the motorists who cause these accidents are long gone by the time the resulting mess of their short-sided, selfish driving habits are getting sorted-out. Such was the case in my recent collision here at home a few weeks back. But, I digress.
Once we were back at home we found ourselves in a rainy period that pretty much kept us from getting in any cycling or motorcycling during the last few days of our extended holiday break. Friday was mostly a day spent getting my truck in for a repair of the front suspension that I addressed in a separate blog entry, doing some work, then getting all of the road grime removed from Debbie’s car after our 1,600-mile road trip through snow and rain-covered roads, before some other household chores and then heading off for dinner at Loco Willy’s for our Finally a Friday celebration.
It was going to be something of a quiet weekend as quite a few friends had headed out of town for New Years: David & Deb were in St. Augustine, Bobby & Carrie Ann headed to St. Petersburg, Ryan & Jeanette were in Fort Lauderdale, Jeff & Sharon were in the Keys and so on. As for us, on Saturday we headed off to the mountains and celebrated New Years. Sunday was all about watching a little football and relaxing while doing laundry and some other chores before heading over to Loco Willy’s for some stir fry.
Our last day of the holiday was spent getting the truck over to the body shop for the replacement of the rear bumper which had been somewhat damaged a few weeks back in a three-car collision. The rest of the morning was spent taking down the Christmas tree and putting away all of the holiday decorations, writing thank-you notes, paying bills, filing receipts from 2016, looking at our weekend plans and trips for 2017, and then making some pizza for dinner.
Tomorrow, we return to reality and regular eating habits. The reality I’m not all that excited about, but the regular eating habits will be a welcome routine! With any luck, getting back into the regular routine will also help to make this nagging cold go away!