ChanukJul on the Great Plains
Actually, it was one of the more restful and wonderful vacations I've ever had. Because it was just about a week with NOTHING TO DO. Which at this point is my idea of a really, really good time.
Here is more or less how our days went:
7:45: Mermaid Girl, having promised the night before that she'd play quietly and let me sleep in the morning, wakes me up by bouncing on my bed and pushing the newest gift from MorMor (RW's mom) into my face and demanding "What is this?? Can I play with it? Can you open it for me?? Now??? Please????" (On our first day there, MorMor told an astonished MG that she would be putting a new present into MG's stocking every night, for our girl to find first thing in the morning. And bless her, MorMor delivered.)
8:45: I let MG out of the room so she can go "thank" MorMor. ("Thank" in this case = tiptoe into her office/bedroom and convince her to watch whatever DVD Mermaid Girl has an interest in or received as a present the night before.)
9:15: I make breakfast of toast with cream cheese and a satsuma orange on the side for myself and MG, hers to be delivered to the side table where she's still watching TV with (or, in the case of The Incredibles, which was judged too violent for adult viewing, without) MorMor.
9:30-10:30: I shower, dress, mess with MorMor's computer and/or read whatever novel I'm in the middle of. (I finished four books during the trip! And one of them was 500 pages long!)
10:30: Renaissance Woman wakes up and staggers out of MorMor's kitchen/living room, where she's been sleeping as the bedroom aggravates her allergies (and MG's early morning hours threaten to aggravate HER). I continue reading, often in front of the fire thoughtfully laid by Oldemor, MorMor's 90-year-old mother, who lives in the other half of the house.
10:40: RW eats what's left of MG's breakfast, i.e. two-thirds of a piece of cream cheese toast and seven slices of satsuma orange.
10:43: MG asks winningly if she can have a piece of candy.
11:30: Everyone agrees that we are hungry. After some pottering around in Oldemor's kitchen, an astonishing feast is laid out upon Oldemor's groaning table. Oldemor, MorMor, RW, and I all proceed to tuck in to bread, hardboiled eggs, herring, smelly cheese, leftover meatloaf, leftover salad, pickled beets, leftover red cabbage, liver pate, and whatever else happens to be sitting around, all topped off with various tastebud-blowing Danish sauces. RW's Uncle P, who is a vegan, whips up some tofu and rice and picks at the salad. Mermaid Girl consents to eat a piece of cheddar cheese or perhaps a slice of corned beef.
11:48: MG asks winningly if she can have a piece of candy.
12:30: I attempt to wash dishes, and am shooed away by Oldemor, who threatens to hit me. She is a tough old lady.
1:00: Exhausted by my labors, I lie down for a nap, while RW takes the Girl out to play in the snow.
4:00: I wake up. Everyone is gathered in Oldemor's living room in front of the fire, reading or discussing politics, the fate of the world, and the evils of W and Resident Bad Guy Dick Cheney. In Danish. I continue reading.
5:24: MG asks winningly if she can have a piece of candy.
6:00: Dinner time! Same as lunchtime, with the addition of leftover turkey, as well as wine for the grownups and sparkling cider for MG.
6:18: MG asks winningly if she can have dessert.
6:30: MG and I light Chanukah candles on the charmingly homemade (and conveniently portable) menorah that MG painted at religious school, while RW smiles on and everyone else watches, bemused by this display of retrograde organized religion but willing to be supportive nonetheless.
6:37: MG tears into her nightly present, amid cries of delight.
6:48: MG asks winningly if she can have a piece of Chanukah gelt.
7:00: I once again attempt to wash dishes, and once again am repulsed with bodily blows. I slouch off to read and nurse my bruises.
7:15: The tree is lit with real candles, occasioning much ooh-ing and aah-ing before everyone goes back to reading and discussing the fate of the Earth.
8:00: RW and I arm-wrestle to decide who will shepherd MG through the Bedtime Process.
10:00: Worn out by the stresses and strains of the day, I collapse into bed. Just as I'm drifting off, MG pipes up from across the room, asking winningly if I'll sing her "The Sisters of Mercy," which she has decided is "About God. Or angels. Or spirits." I say I'll sing to her if she'll promise to play quietly and let me sleep in in the morning.
Of course, this is just a composite picture. You'll have to imagine variations for Danish Jul on the night of the 24th, and the Great Chopped Liver and Latke Cooking Marathon on the 27th (in which I discovered once again, while attempting to make latkes, that: 1) the pan really does make all the difference, and 2) I NEED a cast-iron pan like the one Oldemor finally produced, rescuing me from the depths of my latke-induced panic). And then halfway through our visit my Doctor Cousin and his 8-year-old daughter arrived for a short ski vacation, causing MG to go into paroxysms of glee at finally having another kid around.
Oh and we went inner-tubing! And my inner tube almost got caught up in the workings of the machine that pulls you up the hill, but I was valiantly rescued by the bored-looking teenage staffers! And we went on a sleigh ride, and we saw elk, really close up! And I got the almond in my rice pudding on Jul and won a big tin of chocolates! And MG's cousin made the World's Smallest Snowman!
My only regret is that I didn't get to go see "Brokeback Mountain;" I really wanted to watch it in Wyoming. But somehow there was never time, what with all that strenuous reading and napping.
Now to unpack. That's the catch: all vacations, however lovely, always end with Unpacking.
But at least we have memories. And digital photos. And MG has a whole extra suitcase's worth of loot.
And tonight, we stay up as late as we want! Of course, for RW and me, that means about 12:17. It's anyone's guess what it means for MG. Last time we tried this, we had to scrape her off the flooor at 2 AM.
Whoo-hoo! Happy 2006!