Monday, December 27, 2010

Well, There Was *One* Thing I Really Missed About Vegas This Christmas

Yeah, people keep asking me if I miss living in Vegas, and I keep telling them 'absolutely not'.  But then I got to thinking about it, and even though I'm very happy to be here in Tennessee, there was one thing I'd almost forgotten about that made life in Vegas much better.  That was seeing the cocktail waitresses at Sunset Station wandering around for an entire month wearing those naughty Santa dresses.

Damn those were nice.  Everybody loved 'em.  Even the waitresses.  They knew they looked hot in them, and of course they made phat tips because of it.

One night a few years back, Kimmy and I were sitting around having a drink, running a few bucks through the Megabucks machine after our shift, and I asked her what she would do if I hit the jackpot.

Without hesitating, she said "I'd be your slave".

So my response was, Well, if you're gonna be my slave, you've gotta wear the naughty Santa outfit for me every night...

No hesitation there--she totally agreed to do it.  Unfortunately, I never hit the Megabucks jackpot, so she's wearin' it for somebody else, I guess...  Oh well. It certainly made the work hours more enjoyable, that's for sure, because Kimmy wasn't the only smokin' hot gal wandering around the casino wearing that outfit.  They were everywhere!

Anyhow, it's about 11:30 on Sunday night, and I just got back from five days on the road, visiting the various family members for the holidays, and I've got to tell you all, this was the best Christmas ever, for many reasons.  But most of all, for the simple fact that I was able to be here with my family, and we had a wonderful time together.  I don't think it could've been more perfect.

I stayed up at Mamasan's on Christmas Eve, and that night she threw a big party for everyone--all the siblings showed up (well, Nancy was in Houston, but she was there in spirit), and we did our gift exchange then since almost everyone now has kids, grandkids, in-laws, or other family obligations on Christmas Day.

Mamasan and I had a small tree, like we used to do back when she lived in San Diego and I would come out and visit when I lived in Phoenix, with our gifts for each other under it.  But when everyone else showed up, the living room was piled so high with presents, that it was damn near impossible to walk through, much less sit on the furniture.  So we had to move the party down to her den, which we thoroughly trashed.  But man, it sure was fun.

Recession?  What recession?  And you're not seeing the stuff in front of the china hutch or stacked in the hallway either.  You'd think we had a house full of kids or something, but no, it was all adults and our toys...

But it wasn't just all about the gifts, although that was very nice.  It was all about being together for the first time in what seemed like forever.  And since the time I moved away from here six years ago, I've also gained three new brothers, which is great when you're an adult--all the good times like a bunch of bunch of college buddies, but without any of the baggage that comes with growing up together!

Mamasan and I had spent most of the day preparing a big feast to graze on, it everyone loved it.  Instead of ham and such, like everyone else was doing on Christmas Day, we did pulled pork BBQ.  Oh hell yeah--it was a hit.  And we had all kinds of other stuff I shouldn't be eating, but what the hell, it's Christmas.  Mamasan made her famous ham & cheese log rolls, plus we had--dare I say it--cole slaw, meatballs, sweet potato fries, and the regular roster of holiday goodies, too.  Peanut butter balls included.  And since most of my booze is sitting in a storage tote next to her washing machine, we had a very popular open bar, too. 

Once everyone had their fill of food a had gotten a few drinks in them, we kicked off our newest family tradition--the Christmas Eve talent show.  Oh dear god, talk about potential for a hot holiday mess...  But it went off smoothly and was a total hit.  There was comedy, like Steffi re-working the Night Before Christmas poem so that it fit our family (off the charts funny!), or Scottie, Amy, and I singing Robert Earl Keene's Merry Christmas from the Family, which I believe caused a couple of people in attendance to lose control of their bladders...

Tim displayed his previously unknown juggling skills, while wearing a new t-shirt, which prompted the following exchange.

Reverend Dave:  Hey Tim, you know how we can tell that you're married?

Tim:  No--how?

Reverend Dave:  You wear sh*t like that...

Don't you just love family get-togethers during the holidays?  Heh.  But it wasn't all silliness and comedy.  Cyndi sang for us, and she actually has some musical talent, and Mamasan read a really nice Christmas poem (which I'll post next year), that came to her 20 years ago as she was driving down the freeway, so she pulled over and scribbled it down on the back of an envelope.  Sherry and David displayed their craftier side for us also...  It was truly memorable, and if I can track down a copy of the video of us singing, I'll post it. 

But after the talent show, we spent a good two hours or so opening up that huge pile of presents.  That was a kick in the pants, watching all the siblings opening their stuff.  I don't wanna brag or nuthin', but it seems that we were all pretty good kids this year, judging from the haul.  And after listening to me for almost three straight months complain about being cold all the time, and making fun of me for bundling up in fleece from head to toe just to sit in the living room, I got hooked up with damn near an entire new wardrobe of winter clothes and stuff.  And a bottle of Mt. Gay rum, too.  I'm gonna make it through this winter, one way or another.

Since Amy, Scottie, David, and I are big fans of camping and hiking, we hit the jackpot on outdoor equipment, too.  One rather large elf and his semi-crazy assistant managed to hide a huge Cabela's camp kitchen unit in the hallway for a few weeks, disguised as a huge Christmas present doing double duty as an accent table.  And that same rather large elf got a Mack-Daddy camp cot in return, so now I won't be the only guy sleeping on the ground next time we head out to lake.

But everybody got loads of good stuff, and some really nice gifts.  About halfway through, Scottie was taking the camp kitchen box out to the truck and he came back inside and announced that it was snowing outside--Holy shiat--a white Christmas!  In Tennessee!

We put the party on hold for a minute or two while we went to check it out.  Luckily I had my camera handy:

Like I said, perfect.  We enjoyed it for a minute or two, but it was damn cold outside, so we went back in to finish unwrapping all of the presents.  Of course, as soon as I stepped out onto the porch to take a picture, I got punked right in the chest with a snowball.  Gotta love my nieces...

When we finally finished up, it was getting pretty late--after 10:00 pm--and everyone had to drive pretty far to get home (Mamasan lives way up north, near the Kentucky border), so we wrapped it up.  We tried to clean up the den, but it was a losing battle.  Our hostess insisted that we didn't need to do it, so we just turned off the wall heater, turned out the lights, and closed off the den, opting to deal with it later.  Though not before I snapped a quick picture, of course...

The Aftermath--and this was after a good ten minutes of clean-up, too.  And if we learned one thing from this holiday season with my family--buy stock in Amazon...

After most of the trash was picked up, the dirty dishes put in the dishwasher, and all of the food put away, we just put on some soft Christmas music and sat in the living room drinking spiked eggnog and talking about some of our Christmas memories.  It was a good time.  

I finally shuffled off to bed and crashed for almost seven hours.  I got up first, put on a pot of coffee, and then took a picture of the huge juniper tree in mom's front yard.  It looked awesome on Christmas morning.

I turned on the music again, and then went to wake Mamasan up.  She got breakfast going and the we opened up our stockings.  One of our traditions is to wrap everything in them, even though most of it is cheap little doo-dads or toiletries, but it still makes it fun to have a bunch of little presents to unwrap. 

After the stockings, we had breakfast--but not the ebelskivers like our usual tradition.  Since it was just the two of us there that morning, we decided not to do 'em--they're kind of a pain in the butt to make, so we just had a regular breakfast--biscuits and coffee.  And mimosas. 

Then we opened up the presents that were still under the tree--She got a kick out of her new front license plate that says 'MAMASAN', and she loved the four decks of Kem cards I got her (she plays cards with a group of friends on a regular basis, and ever since she's discovered my nice poker cards, she hates playing with regular paper Bicycle cards).  There were a few other useful gifts, and I got hooked up with a nice new parka, too.

After the big event was over, I hung out for a bit, but then I had to pack up all my treasures and hit the road.  Sherry and Steve wanted me to come over and spend the afternoon with them, so I drove back into Nashville proper. They'd gotten a new puppy for Steve's son, he's been begging for one for two years, and so there was a 10-week-old yellow lab under the tree on Christmas morning.  Talk about a kid losing his mind!

I hung around over there for a few hours, playing with the kids and the puppy, then Sherry and I busted into a bottle of wine and we watched a movie with the kids.  It was a steaming pile of crap, but we laughed our way all the way through it, MST3K-style...  She put out a spread of honey-baked ham and such, but I just grazed a little, because after that, I had to drive out to west Nashville to have dinner with the hippies.

It took over an hour to get there--the roads were a mess and there were accidents everywhere (Yeah, it was still snowing and icing up, too), but eventually I made it.  I had a really nice dinner with Amy, Scottie, and Steffi, and then we adjourned to the living room to open even more presents.  (Oh, and eat candy, too).  We tried to stay up, and we made it for awhile, laughing and talking and carrying on like we do, but the bottom fell out of the party around 10 o'clock or so, and we all hit the sack. 

It snowed all night, and since the roads were so bad, we treated Sunday like a snow day from school and had indoor recess all day long.  Amy made ebelskivers (Yay!) while Scottie cooked up a bunch of bacon, and we had a great day-after-Christmas breakfast.  My niece Diana and her boyfriend Jeff stopped by for a bit, and Cyndi and Tim drove up, too.  We ended up spending the whole day hanging out playing poker around the dining room table (I lost my ass to Amy on one huge hand--pocket threes flopped a set with Ace-Queen-Three, turned a boat when a Queen came on the turn, got most of Amy's chips in the pot with her Aces-up, and then I lost it all when the case queen came on the river, sabotaging my full-house.  Ugh).

Besides that beat-down, it was a great day.  Cyndi and Tim brought up their dogs to play with the pugs, so we had a house-full of hounds, hillbilly style.  And we ordered pizza and nibbled on leftover Christmas treats for most of the afternoon, too.  Of course I felt like crap, eating all that junk for the past two days, but a couple of bottles of water later, I was good to go.

Eventually, I called it a weekend and packed up all my loot and drove back down here to Spring Hill.  Waiting for me in the living room when I got home was one last visit from Amazon-Claus.  Curt, Josie, and the rest of the Massachusetts poker mafia had sent along a nice big Lodge cast-iron Dutch oven and all the accessories--lid lifter, handle glove, tongs, etc.  And then Sonya from the Travel2Vegas board sent along a couple of great hiking books, too.

Thank you all very much--that was so cool!  I felt so appreciative at the time, thinking of all the nice things people have done for me this past year, and especially during the holidays, and it was almost overwhelming to me.  I had to take a moment to compose myself.  But I can't help but feel a little misty, considering all that's happened, and just how lucky I felt to be able to spend Christmas with those that mean the most to me.  It has been a very long six years since I got to experience the Joy of Christmas (well, 2006 was pretty good), but still, I feel truly blessed to have such good friends and also be able to spend time with my family once again at the holidays.  Not everyone has what I have, and for that I feel truly sorry.  I may not be rich, or be in perfect health, or have an interesting and fulfilling career at the moment, but I am loaded when it comes to what matters most.  Everyone should be so lucky...

Happy Holidays, everyone!  Enjoy the last bit of 2010, and remember, 2011 is going to be awesome.



Sonya said...

So happy to hear you had a great Christmas. Family makes a difference and reading your posts made me miss mine.

Enjoy the books.  Hope you find some great hikes for summer in them.

bdog said...

<span>The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.  ~Eric Hoffer, Reflections On The Human Condition</span>

I hope you wear out the oven over many happy campfires with friends and family
Keep on bloggin...2011 is going to be a great year.

Detroiter said...

You are indeed very rich Mikey, happy holidays to you too!

Tara said...

Sounds like you had a great Christmas.  There's no place like home :)

lightning36 said...

You certainly have a lot to be thankful for this year. Happy holidays!

Mamasa said...

It's a hemlock, not a juniper.. :-[

Jay from Ohio said...

I'm so happy you had a very good Xmas!  You're right - 2011 will be an awesome year!

par88 said...

We are blessed to have your blog to read every few days! Merry Christmas Mikey.

Drew said...

Glad things are going well. Get better and 2011 is going to be a even better year then 2010. You are still around and thank God for that. God bless and have HAPPY NEW YEAR!