I’ll try and be a little less wordy in this half of the story; that last part was about 10x longer than I originally intended. I did go and update part 1, as I unfortunately omitted Amy, Andy, and Colin. My only defense is that I knew I was getting way too long-winded and was trying to stop the bleeding.
We arrived in Newark on time, even though the pilot thought we’d arrive 20 minutes early. Turns out that even though we were ahead of schedule in the air, the ground was congested, so we ended up circling and blowing our lead. The traffic at the arrivals area was pretty bad, but after 10 or so minutes of looking we finally saw Dad, who was there to pick us up. It was smooth sailing on the way back to the house, though, and we arrived in no time flat. Corinna needed some supplies, so we borrowed the truckster after saying hi to Mom and the dogs, and headed out to Rite Aid, which was closed… So we headed over to Byram, where we found the Shop Rite closed… Luckily the CVS came to the rescue. The advantage of going this far out of the way, though, was that we were able to see quite a few light displays.. I even took Corinna past the Sign Art graphics display, which was a little underwhelming this year (more of the same).
Anyway, with our supplies in hand we settled in for the night, poured some egg nog and wine, and vegged out. Stosh and
brought over a bottle of Captain Morgan Tattoo, which is rather tasty. Larissa decided a year or two ago that the only night of the year she was going to drink is Christmas Eve. And she makes up for lost time… We tried to do the typical Christmas Eve night of classic Christmas films (Christmas Vacation, Christmas Story, and Die Hard), but only made it through the first before everyone was ready to pass out. That Pennsylvania Dutch bottled Egg Nog knocks me out every time.
After a good night’s sleep it was time for Corinna to experience the wonder of a Graham Christmas Morning. Aimee and Ben weren’t scheduled to arrive until late Christmas evening, so we decided to go ahead without them. After everybody wandered out into the living room, and
and Stosh arrived, and was “awake”, I started “playing Santa” and passing out gifts one by one. There was a ridiculous number of gifts this year, to the point where I actually started to think we should tone things down a bit… Anyway, we finished opening gifts and I then got ready to prepare breakfast.
Corinna and her family started asking me while we were still in Michigan what our Christmas Traditions were… I had never really given this much thought, but other than opening presents and stuff, we have never really had too many traditions. For years, the routine was to open presents at our house, drive out to Bernardsville and visit with Grandma and Grandpa (Dad’s folks) for a few hours, then drive to Martinsville to visit with Grammy and Grampy (Mom’s folks). By the time all that visiting was done there really wasn’t much time to do anything else. My dad’s parents passed away, and in recent years we’ve been getting together with Mom’s side on Christmas Eve. So it’s only been in the past few years that we’ve really started to form some semblance of tradition that didn’t involve travel. :) 3 years ago Mom won a gift certificate at Sussex Meat Packers from work and we decided to get a bunch of breakfast meats to have on Christmas Day. I made pancakes from scratch, as well as french toast and eggs at that first breakfast, and everything was a huge hit. So we’ve continued this new breakfast tradition since (sans french toast, I’m afraid). I love cooking, and I love breakfast, so I don’t think it’s that bad that I end up spending a few hours in the kitchen on Christmas morning.. I think next year, however, I’m going to try and get my parents to get an electric skillet to help streamline the process. I simply ran out of range surface area this year while preparing the sausages so I had wait until they were done before I could really start the pancakes. I used some advanced technology (foil and a back heating pad) to keep the stuff that was done warm, though, so everything was still warm when it was time to sit down. Everything was awesome, although I wish I had let the bacon go a bit longer, it wasn’t crispy enough.
Aimee and Ben arrived much earlier than planned, which made me regret not waiting for them to arrive. I think next year I’ll suggest we just eat and wait for them. I feel like I never get to see Aimee, and I hadn’t seen Ben since their Wedding (I think), so it was good seeing both of them, even if it was only for a few days. Chuck eventually came over and we just hung out, ate junk food, drank, and caught up. Corinna and I got Chuck a copy of The Matador for Christmas, so at some point we gave it a spin, and it’s still hilarious.
The next day, everyone got up early to meet Grammy and Grampy in Chester. The rest of the family was able to get together with them before we arrived, but Aimee, Ben, Corinna and Myself didn’t have that chance… Of course, we met at the Park Chester Diner, which is my Grandparents’ favorite halfway point. I was able to scratch my THC (Taylor Ham and Cheese) itch, and Corinna had some disgusting looking oatmeal and “fruit”. That afternoon I was able to watch my dad fly, and subsequently, crash the new plane he got for Christmas. It was a pretty light crash, though, so it was airworthy again with a little TLC.
The next day, Corinna and I met up with my friend Amy at a diner (surprise!) in Parsippany. This was complicated by our lack of a vehicle, fortunately my father offered up his pimp ride. I was able to find the diner thanks to my new GPS Navigation System. It was great to see Amy and hear how well things have been going for her.
I forget which night it was, but Corinna decided it would be good of me to cook dinner for the family. We decided on turkey meatloaf, steamed broccoli and cous cous. It was surprisingly well received, but I doubt my family would tell me it sucked, so… Chuck came over for dinner too, and he was very apprehensive of the meatloaf. It won him over, apparently, as he raved about it quite a bit afterwards (it could have been lowered expectations, though).
Corinna came down with some kind of plague on Thursday, so we just ended up hanging out at the house. I did take a mid-day break with Chuck and his brother at White Castle…. Boy howdy, do I love those little burgers.. That night Larissa and Stosh came over and we watched Little Miss Sunshine, which nobody besides Corinna and I had seen yet. It was still great, although I think I didn’t enjoy it quite as much the second time around.
There was much debate about how we would return to New Jersey. Originally we thought we’d take the Chinatown bus, but I wasn’t so into that as lugging our luggage and Christmas loot by hand to Manhattan and then from South Station in Boston to our house didn’t sound too savory. Many of my family members volunteered to drive, but they all seemed intent on driving here and back in one day. I tried to sell them on staying overnight, but everybody was reluctant. So finally Corinna investigated renting a car and we were able to get a one-way rental for like $100, which was priced similarly to the bus would be (it would have been $30 for tickets, plus getting to Chinatown NYC, and getting home from Chinatown Boston, etc.) Dad dropped us off at the rental place in Rockaway (directions, again, courtesy of the nav system), and they gave us a Toyota Matrix. It was an OK car, but I wouldn’t want to drive one on a daily basis… It felt weirdly geared, and constantly seemed to be revving too high. But what do I know?
One thing I do know, is that I have grown addictive to listening to music my way… This car only had a CD player without Aux in, so I couldn’t use my iPod, and we didn’t have any CDs, so we had to resort to Old Fashioned, Boring, Terrestrial Radio(tm). Holy shit did I miss Sirius on this trip with all of the driving we did. All the static, the constant changing of channels as you move from market to market, the never ending commercials, and the total crap they play.. After 260 miles of playing with the radio, we finally landed in Boston, I returned the car, and we crashed hard.
The end. So much for keeping it short.