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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Well, as they say, it could have been worse. But first the good news. Christmas at David and Barb's was a huge success. I think the head count was in the mid-thirties, many of them children. If that isn't the recipe for a lively and joyful holiday celebration, I don't know what is.

Aiden and Kylie both greeted us at the door, and they both were immediately forthcoming with the thanks. Kylie: "Thank you for the camera, Uncle Mike." Aiden: "Merry Christmas, Uncle Mike. Thanks for the walkie-talkies." Then hugs and a glass of wine (me, not them) and down to the serious business of revelry and whoop-de-do. At different times I was helping Kylie make necklaces or getting the stuffing pounded out of me by a pair of six-year-old boys.

Kylie was also ever-present with her new camera. She doesn't have much sense of composition yet, and she's not much for candid shots. It's always, "Look at the camera and smile." She would drag people out of the kitchen and line them up on the sofa, then go down the row taking photos one by one. "Smile," she insisted to me before taking an extreme close-up of part of my face. Then, "Go back to your normal face." To others she said, after she was done with them, "Go do your thing."

And of course we all let her move us around and pose us, up to a point. When that point was reached, the camera mysteriously found itself on the charger, waiting for a second round of photographic fun. That second round never actually happened, but by then we were on to food and conversation.

The house looked beautiful. David was a great host. Barb and her humungous extended family are terrific fun to be around. The kids entertained each other (and us, especially me). The food was outstanding. I couldn't have asked for a better Christmas, right up until the time I left.

That's where the could've-been-worse comes in. That's where we get to the point in the story where "good news" becomes relative. Because, you see, I drove out of the driveway and into a ditch and got stuck in the mud. In my own defense, it was blindingly dark out, with no streetlights or any other kind of lights. And it was an area that I'm not used to driving in. That pretty much sums up my own defense. Feel free to laugh scornfully.

Lucky for me, John and Suzanne and Mom were right behind me. That's what kept me from panicking, I think, because John let me use the phone in his shop to call the auto club, and they stayed with me (in the cold and dark but without the rain that we'd had earlier) for half an hour until the tow truck came. Without that calming presence, I don't know how I would have made it.

And, at Mom's suggestion, John drove me home. I'm also grateful for that, and for all of them and their support and lack of mockery (at least to my face). Could it have been worse? Heck yeah. You don't even have to think very hard to imagine ways it could have been worse. Let's call the last miracle of this Christmas season and leave it at that.

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