Christmas Day 2018

We are now the proud owners of an Instapot, because LET’S BE BANDWAGON FANS AND JOIN THE NEW KITCHEN APPLIANCE CRAZE.

Except we’re a little late to the party, because I have friends who have been Instapotting (Can I use it as a verb?!) for months now.  Hubs came home one evening this past summer and announced that one of the guys in his office had made them all Instapot oatmeal, and it was THE BEST — Lo!  THE VERY BEST!! — oatmeal he’d ever had.  This probably has everything to do with the fact that he’s had nothing but instant Quaker oatmeal with maple and brown sugar and the occasional sugared-up dinosaur egg since he married me, twenty-two years ago, and he has forgotten what the real oatmeal of his youth tasted like.  I am all about the instant breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Hubs insisted that this oatmeal was the real deal, and that it involved REAL APPLES, HONEY!  REAL APPLES, AND NOT THE DEHYDRATED APPLE FLECKS YOU PASS OFF TO THE CHILDREN IN THEIR MORNING OATMEAL PACKETS!  And then this fellow at work continued to ruin my life — the life that finds no joy in cooking dinner, because it involves COOKING — as Hubs would come home and say, “Randy made jalapeno macaroni and cheese in his Instapot for us!  Randy made more oatmeal for us!  Randy made sausage soup in his Instapot for us at the office!  RANDY BOILED WATER IN HIS INSTAPOT AND WE ALL CLAPPED, BECAUSE RANDY IS AN INSTAPOT MASTER!”

So Mrs. Claus, who was tired of hearing how successful lunches at the office were going, told her elves, “Make an Instapot happen.”  And, just like that, come Christmas morning there was one sitting beneath our dehydrated, drier-than-the-sand-in-the-Sahara tree.

And now Hubs is the master of those steel-cut, raw oats, that are mixed with the real apples (And not those moistureless apple specks!) and the real cinnamon!  And Hubs is the master of sausage and potato soup!  And Hubs made us a delicious shepherd’s pie!  And Hubs cooked potatoes in precisely four minutes, which we turned into one fantastic potato salad!  And Hubs made Thai food in the Instapot!  So basically, Hubs is happy with his Instapot, and I am happy that Hubs is trying all these new recipes, as I sit back and pretend I have no idea how to operate a dangerous piece of pressure-cooking kitchen equipment, so please… continue with all the cooking, Husband.

In other words, this Instapot is the gift that has just kept on giving… to ME!  Especially since I am typing this blog post RIGHT NOW, AS WE SPEAK, while I’m eating a bowl of piping hot, leftover sausage and potato soup!

Shall we wrap up Christmas now?  Because it’s already January 3rd, and who even cares any longer what happened on our Christmas Day?

After we’d stripped our fire-hazard tree of all its lovely decor before 9 AM (which is surely an American record) and hauled it out to the curb, with absolutely zero remorse, we vacuumed up the 400 gajillion-bazillion pine needles and then loaded ourselves into the car and drove across town to Mam and Pa’s house, for breakfast.  Mam didn’t make the world’s best oatmeal, but what she did make were the world’s best cinnamon rolls, scrambled eggs and sausage patties.

And then she turned the children loose on the gifts beneath her tree.

Thing 2 could not EVEN BELIEVE that Mam and Pa knew he wanted a light-up race track, with the cars that have working headlights!  Apparently, he had forgotten that he’d only asked for that track six thousand times between Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

We have had the configuration for every NASCAR course in America built out on our living room floor since Christmas morning, and those little cars-with-the-real-working-headlights are still racing strong.

Apparently, Cousin K had also forgotten that HE had asked for a candy-making machine six thousand times over the last month, too, because he was so surprised to find one beneath Mam and Pa’s tree!

This was also the gift that keeps on giving, because kids who are thrilled with a candy-making machine will MAKE THE CANDY, and then they want everyone to TRY THE CANDY, because they want to hear you proclaim them to be the best chocolate master since Willy Wonka himself.

Cousin L got a REAL ring, from a REAL jewelry store, and her six-year-old sister decided that she must be married now.

The boy got a fancy silver ID bracelet from that same jewelry store.  It has his name engraved on the front of it, in case he forgets how to spell it.  It also has a sweet message from Pa and Mam engraved on the back, and he loves it.

The Oonies were incredibly popular with the kindergarten crowd.  SO POPULAR, in fact, that Mam ended up with more Oonies balloons floating around her house than she could possibly count in a day, as those tots created all kinds of inflatable animals and creatures and argued relentlessly over WHOSE TURN IT WAS TO PUMP THE NEXT OONIE FULL OF AIR IN THE MAGIC MACHINE!

And here they all are.  All five of them.  I know I’m prejudiced, but I do think they’re all darling.

After we were thoroughly stuffed with breakfast and had hung out at Mam and Pa’s house all morning, we loaded ourselves up and drove twenty miles out to Grammy and Papa’s house, for more gifts and dinner.

It’s our yearly tradition to make the rapscallions on this side of the family plunk themselves on Grammy’s sofa for a group photo BEFORE they can touch a single gift.  We have done this their entire lives, and they all know that NO ONE RIPS THE WRAPPING PAPER UNTIL THE PHOTO IS DONE.  Every single year, Grammy frames one of these group shots, and then she adds it to her collection of framed Christmas pictures, which she lines up on a shelf in her house.

Sadly, big Cousin H was not able to come home for Christmas this year, as he is now twenty-two years old, a college graduate and the owner of a REAL LIVE CAREER, WITH A REAL LIVE PAYCHECK, AND A REAL LIVE HOUSE.  Since he just started this job in AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT STATE, without consulting any of his aunts to see whether or not they actually approved of him moving away for THE OPPORTUNITY OF  HIS LIFETIME, he couldn’t get the time off to drive home for Christmas.

Never you mind that.  His little sister (Cousin R) received in the mail for her December birthday a lovely gift from her big brother.  It was a fuzzy blanket, with his picture emblazoned across the front of it, and he MADE SURE he was OVERLY ATTRACTIVE in that snapshot!  He wore out-dated, floral Bermuda shorts and a sleeveless shirt, with boots and then he posed with his rifle.

I don’t understand why Ralph Lauren didn’t snap him up for the runways, after seeing that outfit.  Cousin R brought the giant blanket with her, and we put Cousin H in the picture!  My only regret is that I don’t have a snapshot that will let you see the floral shorts and the boots with that camo top and gun.

The teenagers were all delightfully good about giving me ONE super cute, smiling snapshot from each of them, before they cut me off.  But listen!  I had just gotten a new PORTRAIT camera lens for my camera from Mam and Pa, and I was in desperate need of PRACTICING with it!

Of course, I’m prejudiced, but I think the cousins on this side of the family are every bit as cute as my sister’s kids are, too.

God blessed us richly with the cousins.

And those cousins gave Thing 2 a hat that pretty much sums up his life.  It’s from the Nashville Predators, and it will become this little boy’s new nickname.  SMASH sums him up PERFECTLY.

Grammy and Papa seem to know the boy well, as they supplied him with a new watch AND a couple of new irons for his golf club set.

Aunt Pink got the girls long, fleece, footie pajamas…

… to match HERS!

And then Grammy and Papa had Thing 2 cover his eyes, as they wheeled (Yes!  WHEELED!) in HIS gift.

He was one happy little stinker, especially when Cousin M kept loading his dump truck up with wads of wrapping paper and discarded boxes for him to haul.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a house where a full-sized dump truck is being driven by a five-year-old, but it’s pretty dang exciting.  People were scrambling the rest of the night to grab furniture that was toppling over, as Thing 2 floored the gas pedal and JUST DROVE.  He was happy to fill the bed of his dump truck with WHATEVER the big kids gave him to haul, and he only begged us a thousand different times to take it outside in the two-foot snow drifts, so that he could drive it on the highway and get some real work done.

He also asked Papa if his truck had come with a blade to put on the front of it, so he could actually plow folks’ driveways.  Thing 2 is ALL ABOUT DOING REAL WORK.  Hubs and I hope that he keeps this desire to work hard at manual labor when he’s sixteen and can actually dig sprinkler trenches by hand for us when we need one.  Sadly, Papa did not add a blade attachment to the gift package, which is a shame, considering that Thing 2 is embarrassed by Hubs’ SMALL snowblower and was DESPERATE to use his dump truck to clear driveways this winter.

This truck has also been the gift that keeps on giving, as Thing 2 has used it in our driveway, to haul snow away, which he loads by the shovelfuls into the bed.

And THAT, y’all, was our Christmas.

We waddled home, after eating well, and put our boys to bed.

Y’all have a good Wednesday evening.


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