Last Thursday, we took our annual trip to Long Island for the Christmas holiday.
I will now tell the mostly unremarkable story of our trip. Be warned that my tale is full of “first world problems” that would make most of the people on White Whine proud.
Night time is the right time for driving
As I’ve mentioned before, driving to and from Long Island is one of my least favorite activities. In the past, the drive has ranged from unpleasant to near-catastrophic. Based on our torment on the New Jersey Turnpike last year, I didn’t think there was any chance that we would be doing it again this year.
But apparently, we are gluttons for punishment. We loaded up the CR-V with our phalanx of gifts and once again headed North.
After the disaster that was last year, we decided to try the drive at night. We figured that traffic would be lighter, and it would be easier on the Cutlet as she would theoretically sleep for most of the journey.
Our thinking proved to be correct. While we hit some traffic in Baltimore, for the most part we avoided getting caught up in too much congestion.
And for her part, the Cutlet handled the drive well. We made one stop for dinner, and another stop to change her into her PJs and read her a story. Aside from that, she either sat peacefully or slept through the journey.
The Cutlet has odd taste
We stopped for dinner at Burger King. We ordered her a kid’s meal with chicken nuggets and apples slices. It was there that she reaffirmed that she possibly has the strangest food tastes ever for a child.
The Cutlet regularly passes up meat and other food in favor of fruits and vegetables. At dinner, it’s usually the corn and broccoli that get finished off before anything else.
So naturally, she largely ignored the nuggets and a few fries we gave her in favor of the apples. “Do you want some chicken?”
“You finished the apples. Do you want chicken?”
Being sick at Christmas sucks
Leading up to our trip, all three of us had been suffering with colds to varying degrees. My cold had been the least severe, and upon reaching Long Island, a little bit of extra rest helped me kick it. The Cutlet also seemed to regain her health soon after our arrival.
Mrs. Cutter was not so lucky. Exacerbated by an allergic reaction to her mother’s cat, her condition worsened. By Christmas Eve, the cold had developed into a full-blown sinus infection, and she could barely breathe.
On Christmas Eve morning, we had to locate a walk-in medical clinic so that she could get a prescription for some antibiotics. Sadly, this meant that we couldn’t take our annual Christmas Eve swim or our trip to Walmart.
Sofa beds: Not that comfortable
It isn’t that the Mom-in-law’s sofa bed is especially uncomfortable. Thanks to a memory foam mattress-topper, it’s actually pretty good for a sofa bed.
But when you’re used to sharing a king-sized bed, you notice the lack of space on a queen-sized mattress. And when one person is slightly congested, and the other has a full-blown sinus infection, it can make for a snore-filled, restless night.
Two consecutive nights I voluntarily removed myself from the sofa bed and slept on a couch. Despite being relocated, I slept well enough despite some interruptions.
The first night, I slept on the living room couch where I was almost sat on by two different people. The next night, in order to avoid such problems, I relocated into the basement.
This was peaceful enough until the house’s heating system kicked in. At 3 AM, it can be quite alarming to have your sleep interrupted by something that sounds similar to a jet engine warming up.
Side effects can suck too
Mrs. Cutter received her antibiotics, and when she woke up on Christmas morning, she seemed to be feeling considerably better. Unfortunately, that relief didn’t last long, as the medicine’s side effects left her with intense stomach pain.
She tried relieving the pain with bismuth and crackers, but unfortunately, it didn’t relent enough, and she was forced to stay home and miss Christmas dinner.
I felt bad for her, as she had to sit alone and watch TV on Christmas night. But at least her stomach improved later on and she was able to have some of her aunt’s delicious peanut butter brownies.
Mark Sanchez sucks
Nothing says Christmas like watching football and hoping that by some miracle your team can avoid elimination.
I learned an important lesson: If your football team’s fate is in the hands of New York Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez, then something has probably gone wrong with your season.
When the Eagles played the Jets last week, I got to witness firsthand how awful this guy is at playing quarterback. And yet, there I was, forced to cheer for him because I needed the Jets to beat the Giants.
Naturally, Sanchez played horribly and the Jets lost. So the Eagles’ subsequent game against the Cowboys was rendered essentially meaningless.
In the end, it might have been for the best. Trying to concentrate on a football game during a family gathering can be difficult. So I might have gotten quite annoyed if the game had been crucial to the Eagles’ season.
The Cutlet hates Santa Claus
Not that we didn’t know before, but Christmas Eve hammered the point home: The Cutlet hates Santa.
For the second year in a row, the Dad-in-law dressed up as Santa. Last year, the Cutlet wasn’t happy about it, but she was in such a foul mood that day, that she wasn’t happy about anything.
This year, we didn’t get angry screaming when she encountered Santa. Instead, we got absolute fear. As soon as Santa walked in the door, she tried to run and hide behind the Christmas tree. When Mrs. Cutter picked her up, she clung tightly to her, and refused to even look up until she was sure that Santa was gone.
Perhaps, she’ll grow up to be like one of these women.
The Cutlet loves her cousins
While she might not have enjoyed seeing Santa, the Cutlet certainly did enjoy seeing her cousins.
By some miracle, on Christmas Eve there were three small children playing together, and they were all being relatively peaceful. There was sharing of toys, and friendly hugs.
Perhaps even more amazingly, the amount of damage done to the house was kept at a minimal level.
People love buying gifts for small children
After sorting through all of her gifts, I believe that the Cutlet may now have more possessions than both of her parents combined.
People love to buy gifts for small children. And while we do appreciate people wanting to buy stuff for her, after a while it becomes slightly excessive. Especially if you have to load it all into a car and drive back to a condo with limited storage space.
The worst offender is the Mom-in-law. She does not seem to possess any ability to restrain herself when it comes to buying presents for her granddaughter.
She uses the old standby “But it’s too adorable! I couldn’t resist!”
But of course, this ignores my rule that 90% of products made for little girls are adorable, and adorableness alone is not justification for buying a product.
I’m happy to report that the Cutlet now has enough pajamas to last her for the rest of her life. I think we’re just going to start dressing her in pajamas during the day so that she gets use out of them all.
All the presents in the world, and she only wants to play with a stocking
The Mom-in-law had her Christmas stockings on display. One of them was attached to an animatronic reindeer that would sing and dance to the song Sleigh Ride.
Considering the several toys that she received, what do you think she wanted to play with? Naturally, she just wanted to keep seeing the reindeer sing and dance over and over again.
The journey home
So while we made it up to Long Island relatively unscathed, we still had to deal with the return journey. In all of our trips there, I don’t think we’ve ever had an easy drive both ways. If we manage to have a quick trip north, then the drive home will assuredly suck that much worse.
Our original plan had been to drive during the day on Tuesday, but after our first drive went so smoothly, we decided to leave after dinner on Monday evening.
Once again, aside from a few small patches of traffic, the drive went better than we could have hoped. We even managed to fool the weather, as the heavy rain didn’t start until Tuesday.
Of course, the rain will probably be angry about being fooled and will surely be out for revenge next time.
Overall, I think we all enjoyed the trip to varying degrees.
The Cutlet had a great time. She got to play with her grandparents and cousins. She took a trip to the beach to see the ocean, and we even visited a zoo. I think the Cutlet was probably sad that she had to go back home.
Personally, I had a pretty good time. Thanks to other people who wanted to see the Cutlet, I actually got a little bit of time to relax, read, and watch TV. I might have had some problems sleeping, but that’s nothing new.
Sadly, Mrs. Cutter did not have that good of a trip. She felt lousy most of the time, and had to miss out on some of the festivities and food.
At least since we’ve returned she’s been able to get different antibiotics and seems to be improving. So we can all be healthy and happy as we enter 2012!