Counting our home state of Georgia, we were in six states in fourteen hours yesterday. I’m tired, and a little cranky, but we’re headed to Toronto today, so a little Tim Horton’s and poutine and I’ll be all fixed up. Just watch.
We’ve been to each of these states before, but not all the cities we visited on the way from Atlanta to Buffalo last night. Our favorite “new to us” city was definitely Cincinnati! From the moment we rounded the corner and saw the skyline we were in love. Although the architecture reminded us of other Rust Belt cities, the bluffs overlooking the Ohio River were fantastic, and just different enough than say, Milwaukee. In fact, we liked the view so much we stopped for a picnic lunch at Eden Park, right near the conservatory, overlooking the old neighborhoods below.
Even with our leisurely lunch in Cincy, we were still able to gawk at Lexington, KY (and a lot of questions concerning Jockeys came up 🤔, still working on the answers) and we had plenty of time to make fun of The Ark Encounter while we passed it. Oh Kentucky, you’re an odd bird.
We passed quickly through Columbus, the Cleveland-area, and Lake Erie, PA (it was pitch black by 5:45 pm) trying to stay on course to Buffalo before The Anchor Bar closed. The Anchor Bar lays claim to being the home of Buffalo Wings! So I mean, that was a must-see (and eat) cause y’all know about me and buffalo wings, if not, well, now you know…
Last stop was our hotel on Grand Island, which set us up nicely for a jaunt over the border today, where we will be visiting Niagara Falls, Canada, and Toronto for the first time! We are all super excited!
So there you have it, the short version. Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York in a matter of hours. And that’s just the first leg of our New Year’s trip. Whew! Wish us luck! More pics of Cincy below!
If you’re traveling Southeast on the Perimeter in Atlanta, somewhere between Chamblee and Tucker, right before you approach Spaghetti Junction, you can catch a glimpse, just a small sliver, of the giant Christmas tree atop Stone Mountain. You can see if for a second or two, at the convergence of I-85 and I-285. You have to look quickly or you’ll miss it. And if the sun is setting behind you, and it’s been a sunny, mild day in Georgia, and if the wind is somewhat still, and if the taillights and headlights are not on quite yet, then you can see the tree perfectly, sitting proudly atop the mountain.
Tree is a stretch. It’s really just a string of lights from the top of a tower, to the bottom. More like a teepee of lights. But it can be seen from miles away in any direction, and when you catch the first glimpse of it, it makes you warm and toasty, and it feels spectacularly like Christmastime in the city.
The better view is at Stone Mountain itself, but you have to go on a clear night. When we meandered over it had been rainy and overcast for a few days and the tree, from Stone Mountain Freeway, looked like a fireball on top of the giant monadnock. But on a clear night, nearer to sunset, with the right conditions and maybe a mug of hot cocoa, the tree lights up fantastically, reminding all around that it is indeed Christmastime, and that we are indeed in one of the biggest cities in the USA, but that we are together, a close community of love and light. And it makes you want to treat people better. And it makes you want to drive the Perimeter one more time. And it makes you remember how small, but how important you are. It’s just a sliver of hope, just a beacon in a crowded world, but it’s there shining bright for all to see.
Thanks Atlanta, for surprising me yet again, on our first Christmas here. Thanks for looking out for us, for making us feel like home, for reminding us that though we are small, we are mighty through you.
Listen, I love Christmas, but holy hell y’all, I’m ready to move on with my life. Well I was, until I peeked into my laundry room and saw the mountain of dirty laundry, looked at my to-do list, at our vacation itinerary, realized I have no idea where our passports are, that I don’t have a winter coat, and oh shit, I might need snow boots for New York. You think? Probably. I know my mommies are with me on this one, most of y’all anyway. Some y’all scare me with your year-round Christmas spirit, but most of us breathe a sigh of relief when the stockings have been hung, the cookies eaten, the wrapping paper in the trash can (it’s not recyclable, y’all because it is coated paper), and the house is back to kids playing with their new toys for 24 hours, before they are bored again. I know y’all agree with me because this bad boy showed up in my feed all day yesterday…
Me! Me! Me!
It’s the stress, for sure. The anxiety. All the memos I have to keep in my head. The secrets. Oh the secrets! Every year Jerimiah and I look at each other on December 22nd are we are like, “Do we just open them all now?!” Then we decide we better not, and we wait patiently. We do test runs with how it should all be. We move secret gifts from the creaky attic to more neutral spots throughout the house. We have lost presents.
It’s the worry over doing all the things. The viewing of Christmas lights, the visiting of Santa, and now they throw the Grinch on us, what is up with that?! I have to visit the Grinch now too! It’s the planning of the meal, it’s the constant barrage of family members asking if you will be “home.” “Yes,” my husband said to someone this season, “We will be home.” Our home. Georgia. You’re welcome to stop by. (You gotta set boundaries with family members like this y’all, or your Christmas spirit will be yanked from you. Have the conversation twice, then stop. Ignore the texts and the guilt, it’s not your fault, you’re doing your best. Yeah, I’m giving myself a pep talk here.)
It’s all over now. Well sort of. I’m still getting the guilt texts, but guess who doesn’t give two shits anymore, because I am in vacation planning mode. Which coincidently was part of our Christmas and anniversary gift to each other, a trip, somewhere we want to go. Somewhere we have never been before, for pure fun. Merry Christmas to us!
So, there it is. It’s over and you can breathe a sigh of relief. We made it another year. Another Christmas. Another round with Elf on the Shelf. Another meeting with Santa Claus. Another Christmas dinner. Another going from feeling like a shitty mom to the best mom, all in 12 hours. Oh Christmas, you’re the ultimate guilt trip.
Take a break today, y’all. Sit back, sip some wine, tell your kids to leave you alone for thirty minutes, turn your cell phone off, and pat yourself on the back because you made it. And that’s over. For the next 11 months.
When Jackson was born we decided we’d always spend Christmas at home. We aren’t into the lugging of gifts cross country, and the logistics of Santa visiting hotels, or relatives’ houses. We’ve always said our door is open to whomever would like to spend Christmas with us, and for several years we had grandparents come visit, and a couple of times friends stopped in a few days later, but for the last two years it’s been just the three of us, and Sir Duke, and while we missed our family (and enjoyed the pics they all shared from gatherings in the Midwest) we had another nice, little Christmas at home this year. Our first one in Georgia!
It’s a byproduct of living away from family, the quiet, small Christmases. And having a child who’s still young enough to lay out milk and cookies for Santa helps. Maybe, as we move into the teen years we can travel more, but until then, although I know our family misses us at Christmastime, we will be at our house, but our door is always open. Just be warned, it goes something like this:
This year Jackson woke us up at 6:00 am on the nose, and we dug in. Santa brought great gifts, including a new Nerf gun which exploded into a full-on Nerf Gun war between the three of us, running and screaming through the house while being pelted with rubber and foam. Ahh, Christmas morn.
We played with cars, we played with Jackson’s new video drone (which he promptly flew into one of the giant Georgia Pines that overlook our house). Sir Duke and I dozed in the afternoon, while the boys played a new Lego game on the PS4.
It was nearly 70 degrees, so we grilled steaks and shrimp for Christmas dinner, while Jackson took aim at his new Red Ryder targets, and Duke chased a brand-new tennis ball. We anticipated our upcoming trip over dinner, while we reminisced about the last time the three of us were in NYC together. After dinner we listened to my new record player (my old one had died), played with cars some more, than ended the night with a chapter of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (four more to go)! And mind you, we did this all in matching pajamas. Ha!
By 10:30 we were all beat, including Sir Duke Barkington who had quite the assortment of gas-inducing treats. Whew! However, it was the merriest of Christmases at the Goodnight house. We hope it was the same for you!
Ps… My favorite present was an antique globe for my office. 😍
My best friend texted me from 833 miles away, and she said Merry Christmas! Then she asked if I wanted to come stay the night at her house. I said sure! Said I’d be over with all my new toys. Then I smiled. I hope she did too, remembering all those years that we did that. All those years that on Christmas morning we’d excitedly call each other. We’d say Merry Christmas, cause our moms expected us to, then we’d jump into, “I got a new doll!” Or “I got a Walkman!” Rachel always got the cool shit, the “in” toy, while I usually got the Blue-Light Special from K-Mart, but still it was exciting. Then at some point, my mom and I would load up the car for Christmas dinner, usually at my sister’s house, and Rachel and her family would meet us there, and we’d eat, and eat. We’d watch A Christmas Story because TBS played it on a continuous loop all day, then we’d nap, or play Nintendo or PlayStation or whatever new games one of the kids got. Then we’d start pleading for our mom’s to let us have a sleepover. It was all just tradition, they’d stopped fighting it years before. My bag was already packed. I’d already stuffed all my new toys into a suitcase or a trash bag and they were in the trunk of my mom’s car. Then after dinner we’d load up Rachel’s mom’s car with all the stuff I brought and head to their house, where Rachel and I played until we would pass out with all our new toys, while attempting to keep her younger brother and sister out of her room, with little success. For years we did this. I don’t have a lot of Christmas memories that lack my best friend.
While ruminating this week on Christmas Magic, and what I want my own child to remember from his childhood, I’m a little sad. He doesn’t load up the car on Christmas afternoon and head to the family feast. The family feast happens at our home, alone, just the three of us. My son has never lived in Kansas. He’s never known the chaotic, albeit comforting, feeling of having a house full on Christmas morning. He doesn’t have a Rachel of his own.
But I still hope he remembers the magic. The Elf on the Shelf causing mayhem all month long. Tracking Santa on NORAD, watching Home Alone for the third time while we bake cookies for Santa and chop the carrots for the reindeer. He may not have the big family I did, but he still has the magic, and I think that’s important.
Meanwhile, Rachel is in Kansas with her husband and kids. I’m in Georgia with mine. We’re both fast approaching the age when the bags under our eyes don’t go away, and we suspect dairy is messing with our stomachs. We aren’t playing with dolls anymore, aren’t arguing over who got the better make-up set (who has time for make-up?!). Instead we are finding ways to laugh, to make time for each other, to remember the magic, even if it’s just a few times a year, 833 miles away.
Thanks for being part of my Christmas Magic for so many years, Rachel. I forgive you for breaking my Slinky that one time, and yeah, your Baby Alive was way cooler than my Baby Shivers. But it never mattered, it was just the time with my best friend that was important. Sure glad we have those memories to go back to.
Wishing you all a fun-filled day of new toys, love, friendship, and Christmas magic!
Here’s some pics of Rachel and me through the years!
I read an article the other day. Woah, let me back up. I read a headline the other day and it said something about, “Moms Manufactor Christmas Magic, and It’s Stressing Us Out.” At first I was all, “That’s dumb” and I moved on, then, as I was struggling to get my kid excited about riding the Pink Pig at Macy’s (whole other post) and he was dragging his feet talking about, “Mall Santa’s aren’t the real deal” and “I wish we could go to Charlotte to see the Speedway lights,” I was like, “OMIGOD WHY DO I EVEN DO THIS?!” Then I remembered the article headline and suddenly it made total fucking sense.
If you’re like me, you hold in your toots until you are in the safety of your own home, and you are determined to ensure that your family has the best holiday experience ever. Every. Single. Year. Even if that means killing yourself in the process. This is something we do for our children because our moms did it for us. That’s the real fucking tradition here, y’all, moms stretching ourselves so thin that we undoubtedly come down with walking pneumonia by February 1st. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.
So why do we do it? First answer is, if we don’t who will? Like for real. Is your husband gonna put everyone into the car to drive from neighborhood to neighborhood to see the lights? Is he going to bake 1000 cookies and be calm and helpful when royal icing is dropping in giant globs on the floor? Who is going to wrap all the presents? Who is making the detailed lists about which stocking gets what, and how many Dunkin’ gift cards you need for your kids’ 86 teachers? You, that’s who. Us. Mommies.
We plan the classroom parties. We buy the tins to put all the baked goods in for the mailman, and the whole fucking cul-de-sac. We say, “Time to go caroling!” and “Pajamas and Christmas movie marathon today!” And guess what the kids remember from year to year, that shit. The shit you started to do cause it seemed fun one year or you remembered you mom doing it with you and now, even though they are rolling their eyes at you one minute, the next they are all, “But Mommy, we haven’t watched Santa Paws III!” Jesus, I can’t watch another movie about a dog saving Christmas. I can’t, y’all.
But then, just when we think we can’t take anymore. Just when we are like, “Imma kill that motherfucking Elf on the Shelf,” your child looks up at you, wraps his arms around your waist, and says, “I love Christmas!” And you’re like, “Fuuuuuuuck!” Then you run to Kroger in your pajamas at midnight because you forgot the damn carrots for the reindeer.
I guess I want to say this: Thank you Mommies. Thank you for spreading this Christmas magic. Thank you for the sheets of cookies, and the OCD way you hover over the icing bags as they decorate what is supposed to be the Grinch, but it looks like a pile of baby throw up. Thank you for saying, “Oh honey, it’s the Grinch! He’s amazing!” Thank you for instilling the gift of giving this time of year. Thanks for letting your Elf on the Shelf make a big-ass mess in your kitchen. Thanks for reading The Night Before Christmas, and taking rides on the Polar Express. Thanks for the Christmas songs, for the hot cocoa, for the visits to Santa with the screaming babies and the ambivalent pre-teens. Thanks for keeping that Christmas magic alive for one more year, because I hear it doesn’t last forever, and you’re doing it, Momma. You’re doing it. Enjoy this season.
And thanks to my own mom, who somehow kept the magic going until I was in middle school. She always made me feel special and so excited that I couldn’t sleep for a week. Thanks to all the mommies, and friends, and siblings, aunts, cousins, and daddies who help us. We appreciate it more than you know. And thanks for the gifts of chocolate and wine, it really does help.
Let’s go forth today Mommies and kick some Christmas ass! One more day. We got this. And if you’re running out today for that one thing you forgot, remember to check and make sure you have:
1. The stocking stuffers (did you get treats for the dog’s sock?)
2. The cookies, milk, and carrots
3. The big “showstopper” Santa gift
4. A full bottle of wine
5. Melatonin so you can pass out at 8:00 pm, since you’ll be up a 4:30 am
7. A charged cell phone for pics
8. Cinnamon Rolls
9. Baileys (for your coffee)
10. Cute pajamas for that Christmas morning photo sess
May the odds be in your favor. May peace be with you. You’re doing great.
Eleven years of Manufacturing Christmas Magic! Sparkle on!
We love the Home Alone movies. Specifically the first and second. The third one was way off brand and Jerimiah and I cringe thinking about it, but Jackson loves all of them. So every year we watch Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York on back-to-back nights, to fully appreciate all the fun, little nuances of the very cheesy movies from our own childhood. This year Jackson was a bit different because for the first time Jackson spent a lot of the movie asking questions like, “What ever happened to Macaulay Culkin?” and “Was Donald Trump a movie star before he was the President?” which were downers, he also took enjoyment in saying things like, “You know, if this were real life, Marv would totally die in this scene.” Shit, y’all, he’s his dad’s son for sure.
Among some of the conversations that the movies sparked this year was the question of the movies within the movies, Angels with Filthy Souls and Angels with Even Filthier Souls, which are really just a fucking delight, y’all, and I will fight you over that. Anyhoo, Jackson wanted to know if they were real, and he also wanted to know what a Tommy Gun was, which sparked the most interesting, most off the wall, most awkward of all Christmas conversations because, you guys, what actually is a Tommy Gun?
I mean I knew what they were, of course. I knew they were machine guns, and that they had round barrels, but I wondered, and so did Jackson, did they still make them? Why were they a thing? I assumed it had something to do with prohibition, which was right in the sense that a lot of mobsters during that time used them. That led to even better question, “Why did they outlaw alcohol, but not Tommy Guns?” Also, “Why are machine guns still allowed to people who have not been trained to use them?” Also, “Can I have an AK-47 when I turn 18?” Holy shit, yeah. No. No, I mean. Yes, he asked that. No, is the answer. Unless of course he lives in one of the states that currently allows 18 year olds to buy an AK-47, and trust there are several of them. Uh oh, I’m about to get all sorts of off track. Beware.
Listen, I don’t want to put a damper on the holidays for y’all, but this got me thinking. Which got me talking to Jerimiah, and got him Googling and the shit he found was alarming. No, they don’t make Tommy Guns anymore, which were invented by a man named John T. Thompson in 1918 for military use, specifically trench warfare. It started to get picked up by civilians for use during prohibition, and was used exclusively in WWII as well. It was used by the military until the 70s, then better guns came around, but Thompson was not a happy dude when he realized how dangerous his guns could be in the wrong hands. Neither was the government, so in 1934 Congress passed the National Firearms Act, which required anyone selling a submachine gun to register with the ATF. The NFA is still in use today, though as we can see, it is sorely antiquated and needs some more common sense laws attached to it. I mean, come on, man. Come the fuck on.
Here’s the other thing, Tommy Guns halted production and had a law made about them because of their shear power. Tommy Guns held 30-or 50-round magazines in their drum and could potentially shoot between 600 and 725 rounds per minute and the government deemed that a problem. In comparison, an AK-47 can hold 30 rounds and has the potential to fire 600 rounds per minute, while the AR-15 tops out around 45 rounds per minute. And guess what, I could drive my happy-ass over state lines today and come back in less than an hour with an AK-47. No mental health checks. No criminal history checks. No nothing. Of course this is a state-by-state ruling and Florida is fucking cray, we already know that, but come on, common sense gun laws anyone? In some of these states an 18-year-old can buy a semi-automatic in less than an hour, but when a woman wants to have an abortion she has to wait six weeks, see a physician and a mental health professional, and potentially hear the embryo’s heartbeat. And don’t even say some shit like, “Apples to oranges, Missy.” Nah, dog. Nah.
Here’s something fun. We have a nephew who is in the military. He was signed, sealed, and deliver to the Army by the time he was 17. At 18-years-old he was prepping for his first deployment, and when he drove back home to the midwest to see family before he left he was not allowed, by law, to have with him his 9mm pistol, which he carries on long road trips alone. He could have, however, an AK-47 if he wanted one. Or any kind of rifle, shotgun, you name it. So a young man, trained in tactical warfare, is not allowed to carry a 9mm, but sure he can load up his Jeep with hundreds of AK-47s if that’s what he wants to do. What the actually fuck, y’all? When you hear the phrase, “Common Sense Gun Laws” that is some of the shit we are talking about.
Whew. I flew off track didn’t I? I said that was gonna happen, huh? Yeah, it’s Christmastime and y’all don’t want to be learning about gun safety, I know, I know, but my son has a Red Ryder BB gun, and he just started playing Call of Duty with his daddy and this is some real shit we have to talk about, and you should all probably consider too. And yeah, give some thought to that whole waiting for an abortion, but no need to wait to buy a gun thing. I mean, an 18-year-old girl, pregnant and alone, could potentially kill herself and her unborn embryo in one shot, and the conservatives are apparently totes fine with that, because you know, that’s her right to gun ownership.
Whew. Okay. Whew.
So yeah, uhh, the Home Alone movies. Haha. They are funny. So. Funny.
Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals. And a Happy New Year.