I spent Christmas day with Joyce at her house. I gave her a silver heart ring from Tiffany’s, and she gave me a bathrobe to keep at her house so I wouldn’t have to wear basketball shorts to breakfast anymore. She also invited Keaton and an older friend of hers from one of her charities, Mrs. LaSalle. Keaton and Mrs. LaSalle drove up together, since Mrs. LaSalle is 87 and doesn’t drive anymore.
The table for Christmas dinner looked amazing, but not all fancyass amazing like Adam and Allan’s table at Thanksgiving. Joyce made all the decorations. She even crafted personalized things to hold place cards in little clay pots…mine had some tiny baseball gear, and Joyce even came up with little things to suggest Texas for Keaton. I don’t know where you’d find 1½” high plastic cowboy boots, but leave it to Joyce. Maybe I need to write more about Joyce’s crafting. She’s really amazing at it, and she puts her heart into it too. It’s way more than her just being awesome with a glue gun.
Dinner started off with shrimp cocktail. She served that by toothpicking the shrimp to a big pineapple, and then we served ourselves. I should have taken a picture of the pineapple covered in shrimp, but Joyce doesn’t like phones at table, and she also doesn’t want pictures of her and her stuff going up on the internet. I get that; look at how many selfies I’ve posted on my blog lol.
Then it was turkey with giblet stuffing and a really good gravy and cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, snap beans with almonds (no casserole, which Joyce says she hates) and candied yams with marshmallows and other things Meemaw wouldn’t have approved of. It was all real good, the turkey was juicy, and she killed it with the yams…just don’t tell Meemaw I said that. She got a bottle of wine, I reckon with Mrs. LaSalle in mind, but I thought it was awesome when she said she’d have a beer with me and Keaton.
We all got along great. Y’all may not have guessed it, but Keaton can be a little – I’m gonna use a gayass word here lol – taciturn when he’s with people he doesn’t know that well, but we were all at our ease pretty quickly. Joyce was a little worried that it would be awkward with Mrs. LaSalle, since even she didn’t know her that well, but Mrs. LaSalle was totally awesome and had us all laughing before we even finished our shrimp. She’s got 87 years of funny stories to tell, and she tells them super well. And here’s the coolest part about Mrs. LaSalle: she’s a huge Dodger fan! Like she and her husband had season tickets for 35 years until he died. (Although Joyce says that the LaSalle’s have serious money, Mrs. LaSalle and her husband had their seats in the first row of the Reserve, not down in the Dugout Club where Joyce took me.) By the time we were done with dinner, Keaton and I promised to take her to a game in 2019. I can already imagine her yelling “ref you suck!” or something after a bad call lol.
Since the only thing Joyce bakes is Pillsbury biscuits lol, she bought the pies for dessert. She said there had to be pumpkin (I had a little piece, but you don’t need to be from the South to know that sweet potato pie is better…although pumpkin pie gets a lot better when you put a huge scoop of cinnamon swirl ice cream on it) and then she got lemon meringue instead of apple. I love lemon meringue pie, and bought apple pies are never that good. Everybody thought it was a good idea.
Keaton and Mrs. LaSalle stayed until almost 10, that’s how good of a time we all were having. Then I helped Joyce with the dishes (she’s another one of those people who’s got good dishes you can’t put in the dishwasher; I still don’t get that), and, when she was finishing up, went and put on my new bathrobe before grabbing a last beer for the night. (Somebody had to be up early to face the after-Christmas craziness in the store.)
Joyce made a really great Christmas. I didn’t even miss home so much, and I did get to talk to everybody on the phone between church and going over to Joyce’s. Mom, Dad and Meemaw all got together and bought all four of us new tablets. Since mine’s pretty much broken, it was a super practical gift.
Mom put something extra in my box: a Hallmark ornament we had since I was a little kid. It was Snoopy with a baseball glove and hat. Since Snoopy plays shortstop, it was always “my” ornament, and I was always in charge of finding just the right spot for it on the tree. Mom sent it to me because I had my first tree this year, and said that it belonged with me. So now I have an even more awesome baseball tree. I couldn’t wait to hang Snoopy up.
I got Mom something from the Gap that she told me she liked like a dozen times, and I bought Dad DVDs of some western TV show he says he liked when he was growing up. I threw in one of the Pasadena Parrots hats we finally got at the start of the last season. He’s got a collection of hats from every team I’ve ever played on, and I wanted to make sure it stayed current.
Melanie Kate told me a few years ago that I shouldn’t worry about presents for her and Jared and spend the money on my nephews instead. They’re more fun to shop for anyway, especially since they’re boys, so you can always buy them sports stuff. I did cheat a little and get Jared something, though: I reckoned my nephews’ dad was gonna need a good glove for playing three-way catch.
So it was a dang good Christmas. Now I gotta run so I’ll be on time for New Year’s Eve.