Ok quick post on Christmas Eve because there is so much I still have to do before I can lay down and dream of sugar plums, but I really need to share this.
If you are a friend/follower who has been with me a while then you already know about “my dude”, My second child and oldest son. You also already know that he’s not here with us for too many sad reasons to go into on Christmas. Needless to say we miss him.
This year hasn’t been Christmas, the dude is somewhere in another state and we can only hope he’s safe. My Mom who is got a new sporty hover round informed us between Thanksgiving and a week ago that she for the first time will not be coming to my house on Christmas Eve, staying the night and then spending Christmas day with us. My oldest and only girl, Sam I am, has to work Christmas Eve and wont be off until 8am on Christmas morning then has to make the 2 hour drive home and will be exhausted and needing a much deserved nap. Our yearly tradition of going to my Dad’s was broken as he had other plans.
That leaves just The Prince, The Droid and me. I invited an airman at the local military base to come have Christmas with us since it’s her first time away from her parents. But never got a confirmation.
It’s been in the 70’s and I have had 4 doctors appointments this week. The Droid isn’t a holiday guy anyway but I always go all “Griswald” this year I just didn’t have it in me. None of it, as in the tree got decorated today by The Prince and The Stunt kid. No stockings. The presents wouldn’t even be wrapped if my niece and chocolate elf hadn’t spent the day here with me hold up in my bedroom wrapping and trying to prompt me into some sort of jovial frosty the snow flake mood. It’s not here, what’s the point, Droid wouldn’t care if we slept through it, so it’s pretty much just for The Prince. I will fake it, ba humbug.
So with absolutely no fan fair, we woke late today each in our separate rooms doing what we always do under the same roof separately when I realized we were to go to the next city over to visit my mom, the one who isn’t coming here tomorrow. The one I’ve never had a great relationship with but try, the one who is nicer since the 2 strokes. No makeup, not dressed up just the bare requirements to not be kicked out of a waffle house. Turned on a Christmas music station and faked excitement for The Prince.
Surprisingly she came up off some kickin’ stuff for the Prince, I would actually dare to say he got some awesome toys and clothes, it’s not about the gifts, whatever yada yada, I remember her sending the older 2 kids a toothbrush for Christmas when she was rolling in the cash flow department, so yeah she has stepped up her game in the grandma department by like 600 fold and only 26 years too late for the first 5 of them. None the less gifts were exchanged and it was actually really lovely. The Droid got socks, and I got a gorgeous beaded bracelet. We ate cheese and crackers and had sprite.
Then there was this other present for me. For ME? I opened it wondering if I would finally be getting that pony I always dreamed of, or tickets to the Areosmith concert she made me miss my Senior year of high school. It’s clothes, I can tell, and the fear and trepidation of any person getting clothes from their mother starts to wash over me. I am willing to bet my severely damaged from drinking MD20/20 when I was in college liver on the fact NO ONE has ever called my mom a fashionista on purpose or accidentally. However I don’t care, my kid is bubbling over and my mom has this huge Grandma like smile on her face that make whatever travisty that falls out of this box totally worth it. I only see the back. It’s big, it’s thick, it’s black. Ok how bad can that be, black, basic black, HOLY CRAPAMOLI !! As I pull it out of the box these tent like sleeves unfold like banners on the SS Alabama Battleship, but in huge circling neon pink and green stripes spiraling down the sleeves. “WOW, thanks mom that is so cool, it looks really really …..warm.” ( insert huge fake happy smile on my face to go with the fake spirit I am feeling”. ” wait honey, turn it around, look at the front.” Are you kidding me? There’s a front? What to my wondering eyes do appear? Well let’s just say Bridgett Jones has nothing on me folks. I sat breathless staring eye to eye into the face of the Giant Panda head.
One would hazard to guess this was the pinnacle of my acting career other then that one time I told the guy who took me to McDonalds drive thru DUTCH on our first/last date and I had to give him the entire “it’s not you” speech.
Actually it was an entire Bridgett Jones meets Sienfield because I can’t stop staring at the smudge on this Giant Pandas face. Yes my mother gave me a 500lb sweater with with neon sleeves and a giant pissed off panda face on it, that has a huge smudge under it’s left eye as if it was Alice Cooper. I was Elaine, I saw the spot on the sweater George gave her, it was all I could see, even past the neon circular stripes banding down the arms, and the enormous intimidating panda face, I saw, the smudge.
It didn’t matter, I knew prior to opening the present the chances of me ever wearing whatever was inside was about the same as me waking up to find Alexander Skarsgard laying naked in front of my fireplace wearing only my Christmas stocking while holding a bottle of absolute. This is as it has always been with her and I and it will always be, but she put forth an effort and I was indeed thankful for that, because every kid deserves a Grandma, and oh yeah it’s Christmas.
We visited a while and then packed up our things hugged, kissed, said good bye and headed towards the interstate to go home. The Droid was driving and I wanted so badly to do at least one tradition I have done for 20+ years. Drive around and look at Christmas lights until at least 730pm. 2 reasons, it puts us all together for a couple hours with no electronics with seasonal music playing and everyone gets tired. But Droid hates driving, especially at night, I am restricted from driving for about 11 more months so I am at his mercy. I guess he sensed that I needed it, so for once he complied, and turned west on the interstate instead of east.
Another twist, we accidentally got off at an unusual exit for us, so he could use the bathroom. 2 stations side by side, sharing an entrance, he asked which one, they both looked big, clean and well lit, and for some reason we picked the one on the right. A car was pulling out from getting gas so he swerved left and pulled in by the ice machine. We sat a minute as he dug for his wallet and fiddled around, he turned off the car, and said, ” oh man, honey look”.
I looked up and huddled next the ice machine on the ground was a man, minding his own business not a sign, not a cup, just sitting there next to his backpack. Droid said, ” lock the car”.
Droid got out and as soon as he went in the store I got out of the car and walked to the front.
“You doing ok?”
“Yes Mama I am thank you.”
“Are you hungry?”
“I’m fine thank you, I don’t want to put anyone out”
I could tell this man meant absolutely no harm, and even if he was hungry he certainly wasn’t going to tell me.
” Is that a Bucs jersey?”
” YES ! Do you realize that you are the first person to recognize it?”
” haha yeah probably this is pretty much Saints territory around here, are you from Tampa?”
” Nope, I’m from Houston, headed back, I had to go see someone down there, picked this up while I was there.”
” What’s your name?”
” So Mike are you walking?”
” Most of it, it’s not safe like it used to be”
” Yeah I know, I worry everyday, my kid is a traveler too.”
” How old is he?”
” 20, just turned 20, he’s been out 2 years now.”
” I’m sorry that’s pretty young to end up like me.”
I had to walk away because the last thing this man needed was me laying my problems on him. I went the side of the van and told the Prince to get out and help me. We went to the back of the van I and I grabbed all the bagged up cheese, meet and crackers from Moms house and 2 of the Sprites she had sent home for The Prince. I then grabbed the socks she had given to The Droid.
The Prince and I walked up and I said, ” this is Mike, Mike this is my youngest”
I sat down on the ground next to Mike and The Prince did too. I told him we had just left my moms and these are the cheese and crackers we had left over he looked at me and The Prince. He said, ” are you sure?” The Prince said, “sure Mr Mike it’s just some crackers and sprite, here.” He smiled grabbed one and put the rest in his bag for later. I then handed him the bag of socks that my mom had given the Droid. He smiled and said, ” are you serious? I can have these?” I said of course you can Mike, they would mean so much more to you than they would to us. Heck I have an ugly sweater in the back, it aint pretty but I bet it would keep you warm if you aren’t afraid of ugly”
Mike laughed and told me he would wear a tutu if it would help keep him warm when the temperature changes. The Prince ran and got the Panda sweater. Mike laughed with us when he saw it and agreed it he would probably wear it UNDER something else. He asked if I had a plastic bag, to keep things dry, like a garbage bag. I let him know I didn’t but walked into the store where the Droid was now in line at the register and asked the clerk if I could please borrow a garbage bag, I quickly corrected myself by saying actually I would like for you to GIVE me a garbage bag because I wont be returning it. The people in line laughed and the Droid looked at me wondering what on earth I was doing. I then said give me 2 of your biggest please, the clerk smiled and handed them over and wished me a Merry Christmas. I thanked him and walked directly back to Mike and The Prince who were now chit chatting in the grass.
When I showed them to Mike he was very thankful it appears “I” can walk into a store and ask for a garbage bag or my husband can use their bathrooms and it’s not an issue, however Mike can’t. I told him since they were so huge and durable maybe he could use one as a poncho and the other for his stuff. We talked a minute more and I told him I wished there was more we could do, but that we were headed east on the interstate. He stood up to thank me and shake my hand and I asked if I could give him a hug, he got a huge smile and The Prince grabbed him and me and said, ” GROUP HUG!”
We went back to the car I didn’t have any cash, I don’t carry any since I never go anywhere alone anymore. The Droid came out and got in the car, and said, ” So did you give those bags to Mike”. I looked like a deer in headlights, how did he know Mikes name? Apparently some guy came in the store as I walked out and said, ” that lady just gave those bags to that homeless guy out there”, the cashier said that the guys name was Mike and he was no trouble been there all day, nice guy. I said yep he seems like a real nice guy.
I prepared for the lecture or look I often get from the Droid as if I asked him to move furniture or donate a kidney for a science fair project. I didn’t get the look. Droid got out of the car, walked up to Mike, talked for a bit, then pulled out his wallet and emptied it into Mikes thankful hand. It was only $7. Between the Droid and I we only had $7, but at that moment, we knew Mike needed it more than we did. Droid returned the car and said, ” you willing to give up a tradition?” I glanced at The Prince and he smiled, we were all on the same page. We all jumped out and asked Mr Mike if he would like a ride.
It was only about 35 miles to where Mike needed to get for the night. I asked him if he would like to use our phones to call anyone, to let them know he’s ok, or wish them Merry Christmas. That may sound odd to anyone out there, but that is the only time I know where my dude is, when some kind person lets him use their phone to call his mom and say he loves us. It’s not like 10 years ago when there were payphones and collect calls. So I wanted to make sure Mike had the chance to do the same. He explained he had lost his wife 3 years ago, his life went to pieces after that, he had no children or family. I saw The Prince reach his hand out to pat Mikes hand.
We used our phones and googled the shelter for that area, and gave him the address and phone number, he assured us he would clean up and get there for Christmas dinner. We googled the weather which is very important to someone who is “traveling” so he would have an idea where and when it would be raining or cold on the next week or so of his journey,
We got to the exit Mike wanted to stop at and he continued to Thank us, the Droid went into the gas station and Mike loaded up his back pack and the Prince and I hugged him goodbye. We watched him walk off with purpose into the dark. The Droid came out and noticed Mike was gone. He yelled where is he? I said I don’t know he walked off that way. The Droid headed off into the dark in that direction.
Droid returned and said he had found him, and told Mike goodbye. I smiled, I knew he didn’t track that man down in the dark to just say goodbye and I also knew he didn’t get in the car with a purchase from the store, my excellent detective skills concluded my Droid, had a heart, and it had just grown a few sizes.
Droid stared at the windshield as we drove back east on the interstate and said, ” don’t judge me it’s Christmas” I smiled and said, “yep, and your socks will look awesome with that Panda sweater.”
Be good to one another….
ps, if it wasn’t for that ugly panda sweater I wouldn’t have been in the mood to carry out my yearly final tradition of Christmas eve.