2007.12.27 An alternative Christmas

Written by David Green.


I feel like the luckiest woman in America right now. Maybe it’s only because I am easy to please (OK, I know several members of my family would disagree with that statement. OK, ALL of the members of my family would disagree), but I am just so happy that I have the family I have and that they are so accommodating.

I waited until the last minute to decide if we were going up north to ski instead of having a traditional Christmas at home. I’m glad I did because the weather prediction for the day we would have left sounded pretty awful and I hate being on the road during adverse weather.

Whiteouts, four to seven inches of snow, high winds—it just didn’t seem worth it to brave that kind of weather when everybody would have been just as content to stay home.

The problem with deciding at the last minute is that my backup plan did not involve the kind of gifts that would elicit shouts of joy on Christmas morning. My backup plan involved wrapping up gifts from years past...and tucking money inside them.

And, other than a few little things, I totally forgot about stocking stuffers. My plan was to buy them Sunday after we picked up Ben at the airport in Toledo and ate lunch and before we went to watch the just released movie, Juno.

But Ben’s plane was delayed an hour and a half, service was slow at the restaurant, and the closest theatre showing the movie was in Southgate, 49 miles from Toledo.

Rozee had pointed out we could wait until later in the week when Juno would be showing in Toledo, and David hinted at the folly of driving so far for a movie, but I was hell-bent on seeing it Sunday.

I wanted to welcome Ben home with something special—lunch at our family’s favorite restaurant, Jing Chuan—and a movie that had received four out of four stars and five out of five stars, depending on the reviewer.

And, heck, we would have traveled 246 miles up north, so what was a mere 49?

Well, in the time it took to travel to Southgate and back, I could have bought some nifty stocking stuffers. Instead, my children suffered through fishing lures and   tiny Christmas tree erasers, pencil sharpeners and magnets, dorky barrettes made with bright red and green Christmas ribbons and other items scavenged from what could be called The Bookshelf of Unwanted Presents because I sure found a lot of stocking stuffers and a selection of “re-gifts” there.

Usually, on Christmas morning, our kids wake up at the crack of dawn, locate their stockings, jump on our bed to wake us up, and eagerly rummage through their stockings.

This year, they slept in. I was overjoyed since I’d been up late as usual wrapping presents and stuffing stockings. This year, when early-riser David climbed back in bed at 8 a.m. expecting the kids to come pouncing soon, they still hadn’t awakened. When I awoke again around 10, they were still sleeping.

“Maybe we should go jump on them and wake them up,” David suggested. It’s not often I get a chance to wake anybody up so I was game—and, boy, were they surprised.

But not as surprised as I was when Ben spilled the beans.

We were in the middle of saying goodbye to the Begnoches a couple of nights before Christmas when my three children, standing off to the side by the Christmas tree, started laughing.

“What? What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Ben just told Maddie what he got her for Christmas,” said Rozee.

“Ben!” I said with mock shock.

“No, I didn’t,” he said. “I just told her what it started with.”

“‘Wah?’” I asked, pronouncing the first syllable of her gift.

He shook his head “yes.”

“That’s just like telling her!” I accused.

Rozee and I already knew that he had gotten her a watch. Now Maddie did, too.

I wasn’t really upset. No, the fiercest disagreements around our house go something like this:

“Who put the toilet paper on wrong?” I complain.

“What’s wrong?” asks Rozee. “I hung it the way I thought I should.”

“In our house?” I yell. “In our house we always hang it so it comes over the top.”

“Look, Rozee,” Maddie says, slightly exasperated. She demonstrates on the toilet paper roll, “You spin it around and it’s easier to find it, easier to rip it.”

“Aren’t I lucky, Maddie, that I don’t care which way it hangs?” asks Rozee. “Then I’ll never be disappointed when it’s not on ‘right.’”

That’s a handy attitude to have around our house on Christmas morning.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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