This Christmas was different. First of all, you have to know that I have spent the last 44 Christmases in the same house. Even though I live a day's drive from my home town, I have always managed to be home for Christmas. My kids have gone to Grandma's house for Christmas all of their lives. And then there was this year.
Hubby couldn't get the day off. Or several days around Christmas off. In 18 years of marriage, this has not happened. Until this Christmas.
I couldn't spend Christmas without him, even though he was at work for part of it, so we had Christmas at our house this year. It was different. We did have cinnamon rolls and cookies (gluten- and dairy-free!), and there were presents under the tree and in the stockings. But it was much quieter than usual.
The day after Christmas, the kids and I piled ourselves, our luggage, and my family's Christmas presents into the van, and headed off. Into a snowstorm. Hmm. Possibly not the brightest idea ever.
We had been driving for about six hours when we ran into snow. We were only a couple of hours from our destination, so we stopped for gas, bathrooms, and drinks, and got back onto the road. For about 20 more minutes, when we slid into the snow at the side and stayed there. Oops!
To make a long story short, we ended up staying where we were, after being pulled out by a tow truck. To make a short story long, it was quite the stay!
Where we were was within shouting distance of the Salamanca, NY exit. And right at that exit is the Seneca hotel and Casino. Also Burger King, where we ate supper, but then off we went to the hotel. It was dark by then, and the snow was really coming down. I was about done for, as far as driving went, and my windshield wipers were not keeping up with the onslaught. So my sheltered, homeschooled kids and I stayed over night in the casino.
Okay, we weren't in the casino, per se, just in the hotel attached to the casino. However, when we walked in to register, we walked past a room full of slot machines and other assorted games of chance. Rory thought we were at a really fancy Chuck E. Cheese, apparently, because he got all excited, pointing and yelling out "Look! Games!" I had to explain that we weren't playing those games, and he wouldn't have been allowed to, anyway.
So we went to our room on the 8th floor. Lily was excited about the view, and the "phone in the potty." Rory quickly figured out the TV remote, and proceeded to watch cartoons. He also claimed one of the beds for himself, which resulted in a squabble, but Lily finally resigned herself to sharing the other bed with me. We had some tea, ate some jellybeans that were left in the room, read some of "A Christmas Carol" and turned off the lights.
Then, Rory said his stomach felt bad and he thought he might throw up, so I took the lid off of the ice bucket and lined it with a plastic bag just in case. Also made a mental note to avoid taking Rory to Burger King again. Shut off the lights again. Well, don't you know that hotel rooms have all sorts of little red lights all over the place? I'd personally never noticed, but apparently the red lights are scary. If you're nine. So, after all the fighting about who got the bed to themselves, we all ended up in one bed so the red lights wouldn't get us.
We had to leave the light on in the bathroom (in case Rory needed to use it), and we closed the heavy blinds so that the lights outside wouldn't keep us awake. So we were in this kind of half-light, half-dark, red-dotted place. Everyone finally went to sleep. I was the first to wake up, having to go to the bathroom, so I managed to extricate myself from the middle of the bed without waking anyone else up. I figured I'd get dressed and ready, and then wake up the kids.
After I used the potty (without feeling the need to make any phone calls), I moved the ice bucket out of the way to read the alarm clock. Three o-clock, A.M. Oh. I determined that I didn't really need to get up yet, after all, so I got back into bed until morning.
The next morning, we checked out, ran through McDonald's for some drinks and apple slices to accompany the rice cakes and cookies we had in the car, and headed back off down the road. We got to my mom's house just in time to open presents and rest a little while before heading off to my dad's house for the dinner we had planned to attend there. Then, back to Mom's. The next day we exchanged gifts with my sister. Then on Sunday with my aunts and uncle. We ended up staying through New Year's Day, as Hubby had to work over night on New Year's Eve anyway, and then headed back home. We still have Christmas with Hubby's family to look forward to on Monday, and then I think we can get back to normal. Maybe. Whatever that is. Maybe I'd better start planning for Easter.