It was actually kinda pleasant, in fact.
You see, I'm not a big holiday person. I believe I have covered this before, but since I have a lot of new readers, I'll do a quick run-through of that.
What I crave most in life is relaxation. My job is pretty stressful, and my childrens are very high-energy, and my wife has never come across some activity that she didn't feel the need to sign The Childrens up for, and I am left with little or no actual relaxation. So when a holiday rolls around, my plan is to mostly just lie around the house and relax.
This plan, however, is the exact opposite of how The Mrs. views holidays. She views them as times of frantic activity. Times where we can decorate the house like a magazine audition. Times where there will be two parents at home so we can sign The Childrens up for twice the normal load of activities and then some, since the parents will be well-rested and thus should be capable of even more childrensing per day than on a normal day.
So, inevitably, these diametrically opposed desires cause conflict. Conflict for which I am the one At Fault, given that my desires are driven by "laziness" whereas the opposing viewpoint is driven by the altruism of making this holiday a holiday to remember for The Childrens. Plus, I am the hubsband, and thus everything is my fault automatically. You hubsbands out there know what I'm talking about.
Anyways, Christmas is the granddaddy of all holidays. One for which preparations start weeks ahead of time and for which absolute perfection is a must. Thus, it is the most stressful of all holidays, conflict-wise, given our differing worldviews. Now, throw into the mix a visit from the Queen Moother, and you have a brew more volitile than Mel Gibson behind the wheel after a night of heavy drinking.
I approached this Christmas with trepidation, to say the least.
However, this year I decided to have a plan. Normally, I just try to hang on and ride it out, but I was pretty sure that the storm on the horizon was going to be too powerful for that. Defensive actions were called for. So, for once, I decided to use my genius to figure out how to make Christmas a time of joy and happiness rather than a time of suffering and strife.
My genius, apparently, has its limitations. But, I would say that The Plan was able to at least split the difference between horror and ecstasy.
Phase one of The Plan was to neutralize the disruptive influence of the visit from the Queen Moother. I carried this out with brilliance, brilliance!, through the two-pronged attack of The Rule of Ones and the documentation thereof within the pages of this very blog. Yes, this caused a great deal of strife and pouting and threats to cancel the non-refundable visit and, "I hate you Daddy! You're the worst dad in the entire world!" but it achieved its goal - to get all the misbehavior and criticism thereof out of the system prior to Christmas. A pre-emptive strike in order to mimize future casualties.
I must say it was a success beyond my wildest dreams. Not only were The Childrens remarkably well-behaved during The Visit (relatively speaking - my genius rises not to the level of miracle-working), but The Mrs. and the Queen Moother got along famously as well, with nary a word of criticism uttered by either against the other.
Though, perhaps there was a certain influence of the establishment of a common enemy going on there. Hard to say for sure.
The second prong of The Plan, and the more difficult of the two, involved modifying my own behavior on Christmas day itself. When your worldview is as perfectly well-developed as is mine, it is difficult to put it into a box in order to accommodate other, lesser worldviews just for the sake of "getting along" even for a short period of time.
But strive to do so did I, though with imperfect results. I find Christmas morning most maddening due to the rules imposed by misguided perfectionism. First, there is the early-rising, a terrible imposition for a late-sleeper like me. Then, there is the requirement to be cheerful and enthusiastic before even having a cup of coffee. Finally, there is the requirement that only one present at a time can be unwrapped, and that all participants must be present at all times to witness the unwrapping. And if one of The Childrens decides to stop to play with a toy, all unwrapping must stop until that childrens' appetite for the new has been briefly sated.
In this respect, my fambly is remarkably like that of the fabled A Christmas Story, with the father clearly suffering through Christmas morning in his bathrobe while contending with an over-excited wife and two childrens. I look to Old Man Parker for moral support as a fellow-traveler on the road of Christmas suffering.
I knew, however, that my worldview would not be so easily tamed by sheer willpower. After all, no matter how strong one's will, ultimately what is it battling? Itself. And the battle against one's self is, despite one's best wishes or the number of steps in the program, a fairly evenly-matched affair with no odds-on favorite at the onset.
So I did what any red-blooded American man would do. I hit the liquor store on Christmas Eve. I did this under the guise of, "we're all out of white wine, and we're having Alaskan king crab legs (the deadliest catch) for dinner," but I also knew we had no socially-acceptable morning drinks, and we were running dangerously low on Captain Morgan which turns out to be the secret fuel behind many of my best posts.
I hear Angry Thespian is a big Captain Morgan fan as well. Which is odd, given that she's not a stewardess. Oh, excuse me, Flight Attendant.
I picked me up a bottle of Korbel* extra dry California champagne. I also picked up a couple of champagne flutes cuz I didn't own any. I know - hard to believe. Honestly, we don't drink that much champagne around here. The Mrs. can't stand it, and I don't like how you have to commit to drinking the entire bottle once you open it. With regular wine, you can always vacuum seal the bottle (with the tool we refer to around here as The Wine Suck) and drink the rest later. But you can't reseal champagne in any practical sense, so you just have to drink the whole thing.
Now, it's not that I'm against drinking a whole bottle of champagne. Or even that I find it the least bit challenging to do so (it is, after all, a mere 4 drinks - roughly equivalent to the alcohol content of the Captain Morgan and Coke I mix up in the 20oz cup before attempting a most triumphant blog post). It's just that I don't like to put up with all the tut-tutting from the peanut gallery that goes with opening the bottle and thus announcing that one intends to drink the whole thing single-handedly. Case in point, the moment I showed up with a glass of the bubbly on Christmas morning, the Queen Moother immediately said, "Champagne at 8:30 in the morning? You lush!"
And it was 5 after 9.
I sipped slowly at the champagne for 3 hours. It was very calming. The morning went off fairly smoothly with The Mrs. and I only sniping at one another a couple times, and the Queen Moother stepping in with a, "Now, Childrens," admonition to settle things down.
I believe I may approach all holidays with a bottle of champagne. I'm wondering why I didn't think of this earlier.
* Just in case any of you cares, I've spent quite a number of years researching different models of champagne, and I have come to the conclusion that Korbel represents the absolute best price/performance in a readily available champagne/sparkling wine. I've tried three of the flavors - extra dry, brut, and brut rose - and they are all excellent. If you're looking for a $15-$20ish champagne for New Years that doesn't taste like sulfites, this is your guy. Otherwise, stick with the Andre swill you guys normally drink cuz you can get it two for $7.