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This year was probably the strangest Christmas I’ve had … ever.  Because of the midweek holiday  I was only going to be able to head out to mom and dad’s for Tuesday 12/23 til Christmas day – since I had to be at work this morning. 

Tuesday night went just fine – got a good train home, had a seat and everything!  Went to White Castle before going out to dinner (yes, I get cravings for sliders, so sue me).  After the quick White Castle run we went to some random bar/grill in town for supper, then home to veg.

Woke up Wednesday (Christmas Eve) to a phone call from Grandpa (dad’s side) that they’d taken Grandma to the ER at 6am or thereabouts.  Not good – she’s had some serious CHF issues recently.  Dad took off for the south ‘burbs to be at the hospital with them.  Not an hour later we get ANOTHER phone call – this time from my mom’s parents.  They have no power, and have been without power (and water and heat) since about 3am.  They only live about 40 minutes away from my parents, but the grandparents were singularly uninterested in coming over where there was heat, but instead insisted on WAITING INSIDE THEIR COLD HOUSE in case NiPSCO showed up to fix the electricity.  Cue large amounts of stress for mom.

So this year for Christmas Eve dinner we ate in the hospital cafeteria with my mom and my dad and my grandfather and my uncle.  Visited with Grandma a bit – she was looking a bit better, but let’s be honest, she’s not going to look really good ever again – which is not a fun thought to entertain at the holiday (or ever, really).  Got home pretty early – it had been a long day for those guys … to find that nobody knew where mom’s parents were.  They’d gotten a hotel room at some point during the day, but never said where.  My aunt and uncle in Wisconsin had come down for the holiday as well, but nobody was answering their cell phone.  So after a couple of hours of calling every single hotel in Valpo, we decided they must be in church.  They were – somebody called after.  Of course, by that point – after all the stress from the hospitaling and everything else – there wasn’t a single nerve in the house not at the breaking point.  Fun, right?

But it’s Christmas.  So by the time the morning rolled around, people were better.  So we had a fun morning and afternoon of food and presents.  And then a few rounds of Apples to Apples, which I really need to buy – cuz it’s SO SUPER AWESOME.

Mom n Dad drove me back up to the city last night, which was fun.  Got home, did some cleaning … and some reflection.  I still stand by my theory that family gatherings should last no longer than four hours at a time.  Also, it’s scary to realize that people really don’t live forever – they won’t always be there when you want/need them to be.  I’m glad I had my friends – they were totally there for me when I had my own mini meltdown on Christmas Eve. 

So – lessons learned:

1) the four hour rule stands

2) if you lose power and you’ve got no heat and you’re kinda old, probably a bad idea to go outside in the cold to put a cover on your A/C unit if you can’t go back inside to warm up

3) Indiana can’t sell booze on Christmas Day.

4) Apples to Apples is hilarious – especially if you pick your answers to provide the most humor – and then everybody else does too

5) metroplex the hedgehog doesn’t like the way that tuesday the cat smells on my hands – he gets all jealous

6) it doesn’t matter if you spend Christmas Eve in the hospital with a bunch of people that are stressed to the snapping point (and have yelled at you for no good reason just cuz they’re upset)  – even if they’re crazy they’re still your family and it’s good to see them while you still have them

7) sometimes when you need a hug like crazy a text message (or picture message) helps a bit.