Christmas 2020 (part 1)

I had a totally weirdass dream Christmas Eve. I don’t remember most of it, but I remember it as having been bizarre. For part of it I was riding on some kind of a magic sleigh over what I somehow knew was the English Channel. Keaton was in it, and I think we somehow ended up in an insane asylum…but that’s all I remember. I probably should have gotten up and written it down while it was still fresh in my mind, but I went back to sleep right after the dream woke me up. I remember it being very vivid while it was going on, though…almost like it wasn’t a dream…

When I woke up for real on Christmas morning, I was worried about two things. Was the shitbox going to start after not being driven since November 30? And what was I going to do about pants to go with my ugly sweater to wear to Joyce’s?

I’ve started the car a few times, mostly when we needed to rearrange the cars back where they’re parked but I haven’t driven it more than 20 feet in a month. So there were reasons to worry there.

And, when I packed for the bubble, I didn’t think of bringing anything to wear for Christmas, and Maya said she’d rather I didn’t stop off at my apartment on my way to Joyce’s. It’s bad enough in her book that I’m going anywhere, and I guess she thinks that, if I go home, I’m going to go over to Keaton’s and probably drive up to Joyce’s in the truck, and Keaton’s been all over the place driving for Amazon… I don’t fully get it, but Maya is paying me a shit ton of money to be in the bubble, so I pretty much gotta go along with what she says.

I totally forgot to even bring along a pair of jeans – all I have here is basketball shorts and sweats. I wasn’t thinking entirely clearly when I packed, since it all happened so fast once we found out that Dr. Peterson tested positive. I know Keaton said he could bring me anything I needed, but I didn’t want to make him drive any more than he has been. So Joyce will just have to deal with me in an ugly sweater, basketball shorts and Nikes.

At least my sweater is nice lol.

I reckoned I was gonna wake up on Christmas morning and it wouldn’t feel like Christmas…since it won’t be Bedrossian Christmas until January 6, and Sandy told me that’s when Maya gives the staff their presents…and, yeah, bonuses. So I was surprised when I went out into the living room and saw that there was a wrapped present under the tree. The tag said it was from Jacob and Matteo, and, before I could open it, the boys were letting themselves into the pool house. (I’ve given up on ever getting people to knock.)

“Oh good,” Matteo said, “you haven’t opened it yet.”

“We wanted to be here when you did,” said Jacob. “And we wanted to surprise you. Did you see your stocking too?”

I said I hadn’t. They looked over towards the dining table, and, sure enough, there was a whole red Christmas stocking there, stuffed with I wasn’t sure what.

“We know you celebrate Christmas on December 25, like most people,” said Matteo, “and we didn’t want you to feel left out just because we’re weird and don’t celebrate it until January. I mean…today’s Christmas morning for you, and…well…it probably sucks waking up Christmas morning and not having any presents to open.”

“Wow,” I said. I know we’ve gotten close during the time we’ve been in the bubble together, but, still, I wasn’t expecting boys that age to be that thoughtful. I know I disagree with Maya and Robert about Matteo’s diet, but, aside from that, they seem to be raisin’ the boys right.

Next to the stocking was even a Christmas card the boys had made. Y’all know how kids usually make cards by folding a piece of construction paper over and writing some things with a marker? Ok, the boys did a whole heck of a lot more than that, although they did start with a piece of green construction paper. Whoever their art teacher is, she’s doing a good job too.

The stocking contained a whole mess of treats. There was chocolate, a small bag of caramel corn, a little container of Pringle’s, some cashews that looked real good…and, although I don’t’ know how they got one when they were stuck in the bubble like the rest of us, a Baskin Robbins gift card.

“We know how much you like ice cream…,” said Jacob.

“…and, unless we put your stocking in the freezer, there was no way to give you some,” explained Matteo.

“Actually we tried to see if we could get the stocking in the freezer one day when you were talking to Sandy. But it didn’t fit,” Jacob said with a shrug. “Now open your present.”

So I did. It was something pretty cool that I didn’t even know existed: a Peanuts nativity set. It had five little figures plus a manger with Woodstock perched on it, and was real cute. It was also a bitch getting out of the box. Getting the pieces out was a good advertisement for a penknife: I think I used every tool on the one Keaton got me last Christmas to unpack my present. We got the figures set up under the tree (Charlie Brown’s a little wobbly, so we had to prop him up against the manger), and it looks great, especially since there’s already some Peanuts ornaments on the tree.

“How did y’all…?”

“We got it off eBay,” Jacob said. “We wanted to get you a nativity set for under your tree…since you say how much you think Christmas should be about Jesus…and we searched eBay. There were like a billion different ones…”

“….so then I said maybe we could see if there was a Peanuts one, since we know how much you like the Christmas special,” interrupted Matteo.

“And there was one, so Mom ordered it for us,” finished Jacob.

“Y’all are pretty dang awesome,” I said, throwing social distancing to the winds for once and hugging them both. “I just wish I’d gotten y’all…”

“You’ve still got 12 days,” said Jacob with a laugh.

Actually I do have gifts for both the boys. I ordered them when I was doing my Christmas shopping on Amazon for everyone else. I wasn’t sure which Christmas to give them to them on, but I decided to wait, since the cameras would probably be rolling on Armenian Christmas. On the other hand, it really was cool just having it be me and the boys when I got my present and stocking.

“So what time are you going to your girlfriend’s?,” Jacob then asked me.

“Dinner’s gonna be at 5,” I said. “But I want to get there earlier so we can exchange gifts before Keaton gets there.”

“Keaton’s going to be there too?,” Matteo asked. “Does Mom know?”

“Yeah,” I said, “I got permission. He gets tested regularly for work, so we can be pretty sure he doesn’t have the virus. Besides, I’m sure they’re gonna be testing us all when we get back from Christmas.”

“Yeah, but be careful,” said Matteo. “We don’t want you getting sick.”

“I’ll be careful. We’re sticking to social distancing.” Well, me and Keaton are. Joyce…that’s another story. But she got tested earlier in the week and it came back negative, and she’s not been out of the house since, so we can be at least fairly sure I’m gonna be safe getting close to her.

Then the boys went off so I could ‘go’ to church. Our church has been streaming services since the pandemic hit, and Christmas service was no different. I know about the Supreme Court ruling that allows houses of worship to be open during the COVID crisis, but, even with that, it seems like a bad idea to go to church at the moment. They’re letting a very few people in so that the minister doesn’t have to preach to an empty building, and there’s a small choir…but most of us watch the service at home. I will say one thing, it takes a whole lot less time to go to church if you’re doing it on zoom lol. You can even ‘go’ in your pajamas. It’s of course not the same thing, and you don’t sit up straight like Mom and Dad taught me you should do in church when you’ve got the computer set up on the coffee table and you’re sitting on the couch watching, but it’s better than nothing. Our pastor preached a good sermon. She spoke about COVID, of course, and about how many people must be feeling alone at this time of year with nowhere to go. But then she told us that, no matter how alone we feel, God is always there to keep us company…and Christmas is the day that God sent Jesus to make sure we’d never feel alone again. Maybe it wasn’t as good as last year’s sermon about the homeless, but it was just right for the occasion.

Then I called home, and talked to Mom and Dad and then to Meemaw. They’re not having a big gathering for the holiday – although things in Tennessee aren’t like they are in California with our stay-at-home orders and governors who go to fancyass restaurants when they shouldn’t – so it’s just gonna be Mom, Dad, Portia, Cordelia and Meemaw. As a sign of the times, Mom, Dad and Meemaw all agreed just to give us all money for Christmas, although they gave us each a Target gift card too, to make sure we got ourselves something instead of ‘wasting’ it all on rent and insurance and phone bills.

After that I had a pretty long Facetime chat with Travis. If y’all can remember back to last Christmas, he was in some pretty bad shape then and me and Keaton had to come and take him to the hospital in the middle of his brother Dylan’s wedding reception. He’s been doing a lot better this year since they moved him to a place where he has plenty of time and space to work on himself and his issues. He said that they’re being super careful about COVID on what he calls the ‘funny farm’, which means that they’re not letting people go home for Christmas. He said that bummed him out at first…but now he’s thinking that he’s better off this Christmas without having to deal with his parents. He said Dylan drove over to drop off some presents (they made him leave them outside the gate), so Travis had something to unwrap on Christmas morning.

Then I showered, got dressed, and crossed my fingers that my car would start.

It did…and I was soon on my way to Joyce’s for Christmas dinner.

2 thoughts on “Christmas 2020 (part 1)

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