A Christmas Eve Timeline

10:30 AM
I awake from a bizarre dream in which I find myself in a parking lot at night, driving several friends somewhere. I really have to find a bathroom, despite my idiosyncrasy of not using public bathrooms if what I need to do requires sitting on a foreign toilet seat. Spotting a freestanding McDonald's in the distance in the middle of the parking lot, I unlock the car in case my friends return from wherever they are, and run in. It's very crowded, and I make my way into a hallway that ends in slime. For some reason the situation is so dire I begin to crouch over the slime, only to notice I'm still in full view of the restaurant, including an old security guard waggling his finger in disapproval. Mortified, I head outside to a booth, and while the facilities inside are pristine it also has windows and I have a nice view of the drive thru. No one seems to notice me, but a tasteful time lapse prevents me from learning if I ever overcome my stage fright. Suddenly the dream shifts to daytime as I'm walking back to the car, where my friends are inside sleeping. They wake up and look at me questioningly, but I simply say “Don't ask.” as I drive off in the dream and wake up in real life.

10:55 AM
I enjoy a bowl of cereal as I watch the original Assault on Precinct 13. It's good. Something shocking happens, something that would never happen in a movie today. It seems like a joke, so I back up the DVD and watch the scene again to make sure I saw what I thought I saw. I did. I begin to understand why the film is regarded as a cult classic.

12:45 PM
One of the special features is an interview with writer/director John Carpenter and star Austin Stoker. At one point they take questions from the audience, and a geek asks Stoker if he's aware that on an episode of Angel, the gang is pinned down and one remarks that he feels “just like Austin Stoker in Assault on Precinct 13”. Not surprisingly, neither Stoker nor Carpenter have any idea what the audience member is talking about.

1:15 PM
I venture out to Pathmark to pick up some food presents for my parents. The traffic isn't as bad as I'd expect, nor are the lines when I get to the store.

1:45 PM
As I leave the supermarket, I note not for the first time how unseasonably warm it is. I still need a jacket, but I don't need to zip it and I don't need a hat and gloves. At the corner of the strip mall, a Starbucks beckons. Dare I answer the call? I try to have little to no caffeine after being advised to quit by a doctor last year, and so I've only had one Mocha Frappachino this year, back in September. I decide it's time to give in, and get myself a present.

1:50 PM
As I wait on line, a small woman with a cane enters the store, walks past me and waits alongside the guy in front of me, fumbling with money in her wallet. Earlier in the week, I experienced a similar phenomenon in a pizzeria, when the orders of two people who came in after me were taken while the guy behind the counter ignored me completely. Surprisingly, today, the cashier asked me what I wanted first and I actually hesitated for a second, feeling bad that I was cutting off this old lady even though I was there first.

2:00 PM
I'm in brain freeze heaven as I get in my car. There was a time in my life when I'd have a Frappachino at least 3 or 4 times a week. Having only two during the course of an entire year, I have to say that each one was as good as the first one I ever drank. I guess there's a moral in there, that indulging too often in good things diminishes the treat aspect of them. Life is pacing.

2:08 PM
Driving home, I get the spontaneous urge to finish my beverage down at the beach, since it's so warm and everyone is out shopping or decorating.

2:15 PM
I arrive at the local park, where it's eerily quiet despite a few cars in the parking lot. Down by the beach, seagulls and geese sit in silence, looking out at still water. There's no breeze. There are no waves. Though a family of four is gathered by a nearby swing set, the children are also quite calm and quiet. I find a nice spot on a seawall and sit in solitary contemplation. A seagull walks over and looks out at the water with me, feigning disinterest but likely creeping up to see if a Frappachino might be something he'd like. We both sit and enjoy the sun reflected over the still waters. Eventually he gets bored and flies out to join his brethren on the beach.

2:30 PM
Another family walks by on the path behind me, as a little girl insists to her father that the birds are speaking to her. “What could they be saying, daddy?” she asks. With a smile in his voice, he responds with “Merry Christmas!” which elicits a hearty giggle. “Bird's don't say ‘Merry Christmas!', daddy! That's SILLY. You're SILLY daddy!” She goes on to talk about a squirrel with a full belly, but by then I've jumped off the wall onto the sand, and I'm soon out of earshot.

2:45 PM
As usual, I've gotten into trouble. The rock jetty is uneven, with very few flat surfaces, and I wonder how fishermen walk out as far as I've seen them on it. I've gotten pretty far myself, but some of the lower rocks have slippery green moss, and there's not much further I can go. I'm not exactly sure how to get back either, as the rocks behind me seem a lot farther away and more uneven than they did when I began the journey. Somehow, I get back to the beach. I've wasted enough time in quiet solitude; it's time to go home and wrap presents.

3:10 PM
My mom is downstairs using the “wrapping station”, a table she set up with paper, scissors, tape and more. While I wait, I decide to play Belter, and end up spending an unhealthy amount of time in my quest to get to level 100 and achieve the highest blaster upgrade available.

5:20 PM
It's dark outside, and I'm tired. I've reached level 43, a new record, but I still haven't beaten the game. I think my parents said they were going out to visit some friends and drop off gifts at some point, but I have no idea when that was. I don't feel like wrapping, or playing anymore Belter, so instead I pop in the 2005 version of Assault on Precinct 13. I watch about a half hour of it, taking a break when my folks return home with dinner. It seems like a decent movie, though definitely different from the original.

6:05 PM
Dinner restores any energy spent on real life rock climbing and video game rock blasting, so I head downstairs with my gifts to begin wrapping. My dad reminds me that church is at eight, and that he wants to leave “NO LATER THAN a quarter of.” I bring a watch with me, and assure him that I'll be ready. He repeats that he doesn't want to walk in late “like you people”, referring to my mother and I. We do often arrive five or ten minutes late, which drives him crazy. He prefers to go to church in the morning at 7, even though the first mass doesn't actually begin until 7:30. I think at some point in his childhood he was late for something, and something traumatic happened as a result of it, causing him to obsess for the rest of his life about being places on time.

7:15 PM
I still have a few more things to wrap, but I have to take a shower and get dressed. I come upstairs and as I walk past the living room, my dad asks me if I know what time it is. I don't answer, which these days is an excellent technique since his hearing isn't what it used to be. If ever called on it, I could say that I did respond and he must not have heard me. I realize I'm going to hell, but probably for worse things than dishonoring my parents.

7:30 PM
I turn off the water and hear my dad yelling in to my mom that he's going to leave without her if she's not ready. He shuffles back down the hall muttering things to himself.

7:35 PM
I'm dressed in record time, and decide to wrap the remaining presents. I tell my dad I'll be back up in ten minutes and he tells me again what time he wants to leave, and that he's leaving no matter what. He hasn't noticed that I’ve taken his keys. Besides ensuring that we go to church as a family, I also don't want him to drive at night. He has trouble seeing the lines in the road, and all day yesterday was complaining about seeing “floaters” as he decorated the tree. At one point he mentioned the problem to my mom, who took his glasses and examined them. She brought them over to show me the paint, dust, and spackle dotting them before cleaning them and returning them to him. Later he admitted that his vision had cleared up, and he hoped that the problem wasn't anything more serious than dirty lenses.

7:44 PM
My dad calls down that they're leaving, so the last two presents will have to wait. I head outside and start the car, and after helping my mom into the front my dad hops in the back. We're on our way, and on time, with no major fights beyond my dad's annual grumbling.

7:56 PM
We get a great parking space and head into church. It's not as crowded as I would have expected, and I begin to wonder if it's an 8:30 mass.

8:06 PM
The priest was just a little late in getting started, and six minutes of my dad clasping his hands and shifting impatiently comes to an end.

8:30 PM
Our Pastor speaks about how a child changes anyone's life, how even proper business executives make faces and talk in funny voices to a baby. New parents are in awe of everything a baby does, while older parents argue over whose turn it is to get up when the baby cries. Grandparents simply spoil children, and he references an old joke about people wishing they could skip being parents and just be grandparents. I think about a Christmas card I'd gotten earlier in the day, signed by an old college friend, his wife, and “baby (June ‘06)”. It was a really cool way to get such news, though not as cool as being visited by an angel.

9:07 PM
On the way home, my dad asks me if there's such a thing as angels, and how we know about them. It's not an easy question. There are the biblical accounts which, according to our faith, should be enough. He asks if anyone today speaks to angels or sees them and I really don't know. I hate when my parents ask me theological questions. I should have the answers, especially if someday I'll have children of my own asking the same questions, but I don't. More importantly, since they taught me I find the role reversal challenging.

9:31 PM
As I play even more Belter instead of finishing my work downstairs, my mom makes us all hot chocolate. Christmas Eve is all right.

10:07 PM
I finally go downstairs and do what needs to be done. I've color-coded the presents, using one kind of paper for my dad and another for my mom, and I bring everything up and arrange them under the tree. It's time to blog or finish my movie, but first I'll play a bit more of my game.

11:45 PM
Even though I basically had the concept of tonight's post mentally mapped out for several hours, only now do I sit down to write. I should be able to get it done by midnight though.

1:04 AM
I guess I'll have to lie and label the post “11:59 PM”. The movie will have to wait for tomorrow since I'm tired. All in all, it's been a pretty good Christmas Eve. Tomorrow should be fun, and then at last it will be over for another year.


Blogger Rhodester said...

I love those mocha fraps and had to cut back myself after the missus found 17 Starbucks receipts in my wallet that had collected over a very short period. As much as I love those chocolaty concoctions, I hate the doghouse more.

Merry Christmas, MCF- best wishes to you.

12/25/2005 9:48 AM  

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