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For the past few weeks, I’ve been on autopilot… just been doing without thinking. It’s been kinda nice, actually — random thoughts go skittering across like bugs, and I just let the suckers go without trying to catch them and figure them out. Liberating.

How was my Christmas? Fine. How was my birthday? Fine. How was my New Years? Fine. Christmas Eve, we did dinner with Bobby’s family, then a drop-in at our house with his & my immediate family. It was nice. I had it all worked up in my head and it didn’t meet expectations, but Bobby and I talked through it, and he assured me that every year would be a little better… that you can’t always get it exactly perfect the first time.

dec30-091Christmas morning, we got up and hauled Maggie’s gifts to Jen & Tom’s where we opened presents with her… this was pretty much the highlight of the entire process. She was perfect and beautiful and excited and in love with her giant pink pony that I bought on impulse. I love her to bits, I do. So much it hurts sometimes, because she’s perfect, yet I’m not her mother, and I’m terrified that I’ll never be able to have such a perfect little human of my own. But the joy of being Aunt “Seezah” should not be overlooked… I helped her open her gifts, and she was all into it. Bobby and I got her a pink pony, pink squeaker shoes (for those of you who aren’t familiar, these shoes squeak every damn time the wearer takes a step. Completely annoying if you’re not in love with the little human wearing them), Dr Seuss books, and a pink castle tent. Lots o’ pink, eh? Princess Margaret was pleased.

Jennifer made a scrumptious Christmas breakfast, then we all gathered our things and set out for the mountains of Ellijay, GA. Then the car broke down, because that’s what happens when our family attempts to go on a trip. The saga of the Green Bean (our pet name for the minivan that Mama loved dearly) is long and painful. It’s a Chrysler Town & Country with well over 200k miles on it. Yes, a Chrysler with 200+k miles on it. Enough said. The stupid thing is totally not trust-worthy, and has a reserved place at the local auto shop. Yet my father continues to pour money into it because… well, just because that’s what he does. He wanted us to drive it so we could all be together — one daddy, three sisters, two husbands, one baby, two dogs, and a partridge in a pear tree. It broke down in Clemson, only about 20ish miles into the trip. So we sit on the side of the road. Bobby and Daddy are getting all belligerent at each other and the van. Tom’s sighing with resignation. Jennifer is *loudly* voicing her opinion. Sue is stomping around with her arms crossed and spewing general pissiness into the air. Maggie is sitting in her carseat, kicking her feet in their pink squeaker shoes, and fixedly studying the two dogs, who are wildly leaping from seat to seat and trying to scratch their way into the Christmas goodies that we’ve stowed away. And me? Well, at first I’m worrying because my husband and my father are using harsh tones with each other. And then I think “screw it” and start singing raucously and stroking the van. “I believe the van is our future. Fix it well and let it lead the way. Show it all the beauty is possesses inside [wave at Maggie inside the van], give it a sense of pride….”

Think “Little Miss Sunshine” meets “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Brad and David, if you’re reading this, count your blessings, count them one by one. Narrow escape there, boys.

We finally reorganize ourselves into three vehicles and resume our trip… arrive at our mountain cabin after dark after only 2 or 3 u-turns. The next day, the 26th, was my 31st birthday. Holy hell, that’s depressing. How, HOW did Idec30-416 become 31? The family was very sweet and considerate, making it as special as possible — efforts that I appreciated greatly. It was a difficult day… I went to bed early and put it firmly in the past.

After we got the birthday thing out of the way, things were much better. The boys watched obscene amounts of football, the sisters did puzzles, and we all read books, ate junk food, took the occasional hike up the mountain, and took at least one nap per day. On our last night, the thought of packing up was so sad that we added a 5th night… didn’t leave until Dec 30th. Ahhhhh, was lovely.

And then on the 31st, Bobby had Gary the Gallbladder removed and things took a bit of a downturn. People, I’m here to tell you that although your gallbladder is optional, having the sucker removed IS A BIG DEAL. When people tell you that it’s not a big deal, do NOT believe their filthy lies. He’s had a fairly ok time — no infection, no vomiting, no reactions to the anesthesia or medication. But he’s sore as hell… we’re now 5 days out, and he’s still hibernating in bed and can’t bend over, drive, or pretty much do anything that involves abdominal muscles. And they shaved his stomach and the hair is growing back in and he’s scratching like he has fleas. I’m sure that he’ll appreciate me sharing that little tidbit. He’s back to work tomorrow — am hoping that it goes well.

Have been helping Sue get ready for the big move… it kinda snuck up on me. Only two more days of hearing the little hobo rustling around in that side of the house — we’re moving her down to Charleston on Wed. Daddy and I are taking her down and getting her set up… she can’t have a car on campus this first semester, so it looks like we’ll be taking more trips to the low-country during the next few months than ever before. She and I went shopping on Friday and wiped out nearly the entire list of stuff she needs. Heading to Townville tomorrow to collect the rest of her crap. I’m hoping that act of cleaning out her childhood room isn’t too emotional tomorrow — I don’t intend to let myself feel anything and I hope to keep her distracted as well. Just get in and get out… that’s the goal.

So yeah, lots going on. 2009 is gonna be better, folks. It is. I thought about making resolutions or doing a 2008 highlight post, but I’m not going to. Just don’t wanna – 2008 was better than 2007, and 2009 will be better than 2008. There you have it.

And to end on a thoroughly shallow note, I’m having a hot, steamy, and sordid affair with my new Keurig single-serve coffee maker. The perfect cup of coffee every freakin’ time in 2.5 seconds. I think I’m in love.