Wednesday, December 25 2019


Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Merry Christmas to all the readers out there. This morning, I rolled out of bed some time around nine, and started the day off by frying a pound of bacon and making French toast out of a stale loaf of sourdough bread, which we had the foresight to buy and set aside before driving to Chicago on Monday. Eating bacon and french toast on the couch, we let Rodney pull the wrapping paper off of his new train table and his tools. Rodney didn't yell or anything - he just quietly and urgently started to play with his new train table. Marissa, who has proven herself to have the Christmas work ethic of a real life workshop elf, stayed up past one in the morning assembling it in the play corner. I had long since passed out on the couch with Ziggy in my lap.

After Rodney, Marissa pulled my shoddy wrapping paper off of her new Prison Mike themed glittery pillow. She cackled as his big wide face came into view.

I opened my gift from Marissa, which was a computer case that was on my wishlist as well as a tiny wooden figuring whittled and painted in the exact likeness of Ziggy. Even down to the spots and her thin black "bandit stripes" that run beneath her eyes.

Then we have the stockings. The dogs got some new toys, and Rodney got a truck, some candy, a bag of marshmallows, and a blue Hotwheels bath bomb. In my stocking, Santa slipped in an entire bottle of top shelf Mescal. It even had a little mealworm rolling around in the bottom, so you know it's the good stuff. Before going to bed last night, I was sad to see that Marissa didn't have anything in her stocking, so I dropped three clemintines inside, which was a callback to a pregnancy craving joke that she immediately remembered.

Now with Christmas gifts open, we started a movie in the background and we've resided to just lounging around the house drinking coffee. By Rodney's request, we're playing Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, which though it may not be an outright Christmas music as you'd think of it, I'd argue that there are still a lot of Christmas themes - so it passes in my book.

Christmas is a great day, isn't it? Somewhere between all the gift buying chaos and relentless traveling, I forget that Christmas day itself is a pretty sweet holiday. When it comes to maximizing a week off work, nothing gets the job done like lounging around the house with some good food and some new toys to play with.

Speaking of toys, between Marissa's router case and a hard drive hub that my little sister got me, I think I'm going to have some fun side projects coming up. I'm looking forward to getting the file server off the ground and into some newer, tidier hardware.

Yesterday was a pretty wonderful day. After rolling out of bed at my parents' house, we cooked breakfast all through the morning. I grossly underestimated the number of Dutch babies we'd need, and instead of making the two I anticipated we ended up cranking out four in total. But it all worked out, and the last two that came out of the oven were the most photogenic of all.

We went for a long walk around the block with all the cousins, letting them play at the park. Rodney climbed a rock wall for the first time, and he even hung out with some older local neighborhood kids. Meanwhile, I galloped around the park with my little niece Frankie. She's a goofy kid, and I was grateful to get some face time with her and bond over running up the slide and giving her the "spider-man treatment" - that's where you pick up a baby and make them jump around like Spider-man. It's even more fun if they pretend to shoot webs.

Back at my parents' place, we had an early dinner of venison and lasagna, having plenty of beer, and later sharing cigars out back by my dad's shed. "I'm trying to make this shed smell more manly, so please smoke inside," he instructed us.

We brought home a good haul of Christmas gifts, which I'm grateful for. Marissa drove home, and after putting Rodney to bed we worked tirelessly to put the house together. I unpacked the car and put away our gifts, and Marissa got to work assembling Rodney's toys.

It's really remarkable how difficult some of these toys are to remove from the packaging. "I feel like I'm gutting a robot," I yelled in frustrating, gouging and prying pieces of plastic and metal with a pocket knife. For the millions of toys assembled and packaged by these toy companies every year, you have to wonder if any of these people actually take the time to assemble one of their toys.

Sip. This morning, I'm drinking a tequila infused coffee roasted in my old stomping ground of Rockford Illinois. My older sister bought it for me. Looking around their website, I couldn't figure out if "tequila infused" meant it was alcoholic or not. For a moment last night, Marissa and I thought it was the only bag of coffee we had in the house, and it posed a small problem for the morning. Would Marissa be able to drink any? "How about I wake up an hour before you and drink three cups, and I'll let you know if I feel drunk," I suggested. But before we could maul over the solution any longer, Marissa found a bag of Breakfast Blend in her gifts.

This tequila coffee is pretty delicious, and very unique. I'm only on my first cup, so we'll see if infused really means it's alcoholic. If that's the case, it should be a fun morning.

This morning, above all we're feeling content. And we're feeling grateful for the family we get to see this week, as well as the time we can spend together this morning as a nuclear family. From our family to yours, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.