This has been a really wonderful, if LONG AS HELL, holiday season. We had Christmas at my aunt Susie's house on December 23; we ate yummy comfort food and opened presents. We had Christmas at Jason's brother's house on Christmas Eve, where we ate more yummy comfort food and rushed through Dirty Santa to get home and have a very small, impromptu Christmas Eve gathering of our own. We went to my mom's house on Christmas day and ate even more comfort food and opened presents. We went out to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant on December 26 with a bunch of our buddies, and had drinks after at the Upside Down Plaza. We went to my dad's house for Christmas and food on December 30, where we spent time with my brother and sister from Tennessee and all their kids.
Over the last couple of weeks we got to spend a lot of time with our friends John and Amanda, who live in New Orleans. I'm glad that we got to see them and hang out with them so much. We normally don't get to spend so much time with them, due to our own obligations and the fact that their time is coveted by a WHOLE BUNCH of people when they're here.
The peak of bizarre holiday ideas gone wrong was on December 31, when we drove to Watertown, Tennessee, for Jason's mom's family's annual Christmas gathering. In the three years that Jason and I have been married, I've never made it up there for the Christmas party. Right after we were married, we had just gotten back from our honeymoon and didn't feel like we could afford to take any time off of work and were exhausted from all the getting married and honeymooning. I don't remember why we didn't go the next Christmas, but I'm sure that it had something to do with the get-together being on New Year's Eve (it always is), and our wanting to go to a party here in Birmingham. Last Christmas, we had just had Reed, and I didn't want to travel with a three-week-old baby. This year, we felt like we ought to just go since we'd skipped it so much and none of his relatives there had met Reed. I was JUST A LITTLE BIT FUCKING NERVOUS about taking Reed on his first long car trip; eight hours in the car seemed a little excessive to me. But, besides me and my mother, everyone seemed to think that it was no big deal, so I tried not to worry about it.
We left at about 8:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, and things seemed fine. I drove, and Reed and Jason slept for a little while, and we had a nice time. Reed stayed pretty calm and happy for the entire four hour drive there. We got there, and it was a little hectic running around and keeping an eye on him, but we had a good time. YES, WE ATE EVEN MORE HOLIDAY FOOD, our sixth holiday feast of the season, and it was damn tasty. I had an apple martini and almost fell down in the basement because the step from the house into the garage isn't connected to the wall and no one told me. We hung out with the horses, and Reed said, "That's the biggest fucking dog I've ever seen, no way am I petting him."
We managed to leave by 4:00 p.m., which was perfect timing to get back to Birmingham in order to get Kane and Jude to Mary's house and Reed to Ramey's house and us to a bar by 9:00 for New Year's Eve. At that time, Reed still hadn't had a nap at all, so I thought he might just sleep the whole way home. Jason drove, and the rest of us fell asleep pretty quickly. Around 5:00, we all woke up, and Reed started to fuss and cry. I thought he was poopy, but he wasn't, so he went back in his seat and we pressed on. We cried for the majority of the rest of the trip, until about 8:00. He literally cried for most of the time from 5:00 until 8:00. I managed to make it to 6:30 before I started to cry. I can't really explain what it was like to sit there, listening to him really crying, not just fussing or being irritable, for three hours straight in that particular situation. We were far from home, and didn't really have any option other than to continue to try and get home. We stopped three or four times to change his diaper and mess with him some, and that would calm him down for a few minutes. But within five minutes of being back in his seat he'd start crying again. He had diarrhea, which really helped things along, let me tell you. Having the burning poo on a road trip as an adult is difficult enough; having it when you poop in your pants and can't describe what you're feeling and are forced to be strapped in to a seat must be awful. We tried giving him water, juice, and snacks, playing with him, giving him toys, nothing worked. I was about 50% concerned about my child, about his welfare and his state of mind, and about 50% concerned that I might just throw myself out the window at any given moment. It was the longest three hours of my life, worse than pregnancy, worse than the hour I spent pushing his almost-eight-pound body out of my vagina. There is no epidural for the pain and discomfort of travel, folks. It was HARROWING. By the time we made it home, Reed's face and my face were swollen and red, and we were both stinky and dirty, and I was ready to quit this thing called life and get a heroin habit already.
But, we made it through. I've already been saying, "Maybe next year Reed should stay at my mom's when we go up there. Or maybe we should just have ONE Christmas party at our house and tell EVERYONE that if they want to see us at Christmas, they'll just have to come to our house." I don't know yet. All I know is that I have learned that my instincts should not always be chalked up to fear and paranoia; SOMETIMES I'M ACTUALLY RIGHT.