One of my Christmas gifts to myself was a pair of polarized, no-line bifocals. After looking at all the female frames, I wandered over to the male section and found an attractive, cheaper frame, which didn’t have a bunch of fake jewels or girlie bling along the temples. I’d previously worried if I’d walked away with yet another pair of birth control glasses until I saw my younger nephew, the epitome of “in style,” wearing a similar frame when I arrived to their house.
After surviving “Flintstone Airline,” where one a) is charged either $30/40/60 for the first checked bag, depending on how soon one pays; b) has the option of paying an additional $50 for reclining seat; and c) must pay for every snack or drink besides a free small cup of water–with or without ice, nonetheless; and d) surviving my 18-year-old niece’s driving from the airport home, I then figured out that my luggage had not burst after all. Some lowlife airline worker had slashed my luggage from inside the outer pocket and above the zipper. Initially, I only cared that one of my most cherished creature comforts, my night guard, had fallen out. As I transferred my things from the attacked luggage into the nifty second-hand luggage, I discovered an empty purse I’d packed had been stolen. I jumped through the hoops of reporting it online, but those clowns at “Flintstone Airline,” who will never get my money a second time, preceded to tell me a contradicting procedure for tracking down my property. Strangely, I felt worse about the washing machine breaking down. As usual, I’d opened the lid, put in my dirty laundry and the liquid detergent, closed the lid, pushed power and it malfunctioned. I sought help from my niece, then my sister. I remembered something flying out when I’d opened the lid. I saw it on the floor, slid it into a slot and it worked! Well, not in the traditional sense of “worked.” The locking system no longer unlocked. One of my sisters and I took turns, using a putty knife, jimmying the washing machine open–a newfound skill we learned on YouTube. On the eve of Christmas Eve, my sister and her husband, treated the family to a limo ride to the National Theatre in DC to watch “Motown: The Musical.” They had successfully conned all of us into believing that we were taking two cars to the venue. My brother-in-law had even taken his second bourbon-laced eggnog to go, all the while my mother politely nagged him every step of the way. He juiced us well, stating that the police didn’t write tickets during the Christmas holidays. A comment that baited me into cautioning him about his logic. The ten of us fit comfortably with all the grandkids in the middle and the adults at either end. My sister and her husband sat in the back seat, facing forward. My parents sat in front of them and my other sister and I sat together in the only rear-facing seat. After all, how often does one get to ride backwards? As much as I enjoyed the comfort of the limo, I wasn’t a big fan of the projected beams of light, primarily because there was always a rifle scope of light projected on my father.Despite the rainy weather, we arrived at the venue in plenty of time. My nieces and I followed one of the usher’s advice to use the bathroom prior to the show. I love that my mother took this forbidden picture inside the theatre. It’s an unexciting shot other than it wasn’t supposed to be taken in the first place. The true excitement was the musical itself, enveloping us within many popular Motown songs with an intertwining narrative in between songs. Afterwards, we ate at a jewel of a greasy spoon. This restaurant was as much of an example of the American dream as were the intermingled stories behind “Motown: The Musical.” Toward the end of dinner, the matriarch restaurant owner came out to bus our table. She graciously paused her business as usual to pose for a few pictures with Mom and Dad. She posed with my sister and her husband, who are small business owners themselves. I sampled the 3-and 7-year tequilas my brother-in-law had picked up while vacationing in Mexico during Thanksgiving. Despite my most persuasive suggestions, he didn’t want to spare a single shot of either tequila for a coconut margarita. Over ice was fine, but not my favorite for such a strong drink outside of medical purposes. Here’s the classic calm-before-the-storm shot on Christmas Eve. My younger niece was the first of my gift recipients to open her Christmas present from me.
Out of all the things I’d stuffed into that gift box, she was most tickled to discover the return of a set of workout clothes she’d forgotten she’d left during her summer visit with me. My sister also received one of her old bathing suits she’d lent me last Christmas. Of course, I gave more than her returned stuff.The two tops I’d gifted her looked as if they’d fit.Then, she finally got to the one gift in the box I’d been looking forward to her seeing. Since she has low visual acuity, she wore her powerfully magnified reading glasses and presumed she understood what the small, colorful package contained. Her guess was a “candy ring pop.” When I whispered in her ear which adult sex toy she held in her hand, she burst out laughing, even my nieces and nephews were briefly torn away from their self-absorbed pursuit of gift-opening. I only captured a fraction of the joy this little surprise package brought her. Purple, the color of royalty and healing, was also the signature color of my mother’s “Red Hatters” women’s group. I wasn’t sure if she realized the reason I gifted her the shirt was because it marked the 150th anniversary of our emancipation from slavery, but at least she liked the color and it was the right size. As she pulled out the other gift, she exclaimed, “This better not be a cookbook!” Well, sometimes you get what you don’t wish for. Yet, she sweetened to the idea of it once she realized one of her own recipes and three of mine where represented. My younger nephew changes so much every year, I can never be sure what size he is, what his tastes are nor his newfound hobbies. Yet, I remembered his sister had looked into buying him a comic book character T-shirt, which helped me at least pick out some reading material. My brother-in-law was the hardest to gift. He doesn’t need anything that’s within my price range; so, I made him a pride box, which represented his business and fraternity. I threw in a shaker, plastic rocks “glass,” and swag bottle opener. I also made my father a pride box. His box had an Air Force theme since he’d served from 1960 to 1981. I threw in two Texas lottery scratch off tickets–neither one was a winner. Continuing my mission to distribute entertaining reading material, I gifted my other niece the most anime-looking comic books I could find among some other random things I’d given her. The potpourri of gifts I gave my other sister consisted of a bottle opener, an entrepreneur’s purse, a “Step It Up” T-shirt, and a comic book. After all, she’s an artist who enjoys a drink every now and again and wants to run her own business one day. For my other nephew, who regularly makes excuses why he can never make his way to the library, I filled his gift box with reading material: a political magazine, an anthology of African American literary synopses, and comic book. Three chefs in my family prepared Christmas breakfast: bacon, Dad’s famous hash browns, eggs and toast with molasses.She couldn’t wait to eat her “stocking stuffer.” (Actually, the cone was in the stocking with a note about where to find the ice cream.)
The yearly nieces and nephews photo Dad with his daughtersHere’s Dad’s attempt to take our picture with Mom’s iPad. Notice my lone dreadlock on the right. My nephew took over the effort to capture Mom with us. I’m so happy I was able to visit some extended family members during this trip “home.” I love this shot in particular since Mom and this cousin grew up together as friends when they had to walk to and from a segregated, single-room elementary school. Look at them now.
My nephew received his green band for successfully testing to the next level in parkour. Since he’s visiting me for a week this summer, I’m going to take a few parkour classes myself, so I can be ready for a single class with him. The way I see it, I may be half way to 90, but as long as I can go at my own pace and no one’s kicking at my head, this cannot be worse than capoeira. As a matter of fact, as a little girl who loved to climb trees and play on the monkey bars, I would’ve loved parkour as a child…if girls had been allowed.
Banana pancakes for my last breakfast while visiting with my family–what a delicious send off!