Christmas 2020 (last part)

After Christmas morning in the pool house, I drove over to Joyce’s at around 2:30. I gotta admit I was looking forward to seeing my girlfriend for the first time in over 3 weeks. Partly because, well, Hunter the horndog’s still a thing lol…and partly because, however great the boys are, I’ve been a little lacking for adult company. I mean, I go and hang out with Sandy in her office almost every day for a while, and I see Maya and Robert at breakfast, but it’s not the same as spending a few hours with your girlfriend or your best buddy. So I’ve been really looking forward to Christmas.

First good thing: Joyce loved my sweater so much that she didn’t even make a comment about the shorts. It was a Dodgers ugly sweater, blue, with a big Christmas tree made of Dodgers logos. It seemed like the only kind of sweater I should have this year after the team won the World Series. It’s actually not even all that ugly, and it’s real soft and comfortable, so I’ll get some more wear out of it.

Joyce has been working on her sweater since September. She made it completely from scratch: she even knitted the body herself. After that she embroidered a reindeer and stuff, and added googly eyes and a pompom nose. Then – this is the part that really blew me away, since I’m usually in charge of electrical things lol – she put LED lights into the sweater so it lit up when she pressed a button. I know y’all have probably seen other light-up sweaters; the difference between those and Joyce’s is that Joyce’s looked good, and not just silly (or ugly.) It was like the lights were part of the design. It was pretty amazing…even more amazing than what I expected she’d do when she said she was going to make her own ugly sweater this year.

We exchanged gifts next. I did all my shopping online. I didn’t have a choice, but, besides, it made way more sense to have stuff delivered than go into a store, and, like Keaton put it a while ago, get sprayed by other people’s fuckin virus-filled respiratory droplets.

Like the past couple years, Joyce had stockings up, one for MooMoo, one for NumNums, and one for me. This year there was more chocolate (there was a great chocolate marshmallow Santa I’ve already eaten), a Rite Aid gift card that said it was only to be used for Thrifty ice cream, a collection of red pens tied together with ribbon (since now I’m correcting papers), a little bottle of hand sanitizer (y’all will find out why), something that called itself the ultimate sunglasses cleaning kit, and two cool little boxes with two super cool camo-design silicone rings. Joyce said she saw a commercial for them on YouTube, found out that the firm was located back home in Tennessee, and thought I might like couple rings that she thought would look cool and still be comfortable enough to wear while playing sports. She even got the size right for my middle finger. I put them on right away, and they look pretty dang badass, although show me a Southern boy who doesn’t like camo. They were a little tight at first, but Joyce said that they say on the website that they take a few days to break in. By the time dinner was over, they already felt comfortable…and I haven’t taken them off since, which should say a lot for them. I’m interested to see if they’re as comfortable as they’re supposed to be inside a baseball glove.

Me and Joyce have been going out long enough for us not to have to worry about big spectacular presents. Not that I could ever afford something spectacular like the necklace (which, btw, I had on with my ugly sweater), but we’re now way more relaxed when it comes to gift-giving. Like when she got me those cozy flannel shirts for my birthday. Maybe flannel isn’t the most romantic thing to give your boyfriend, but it was just what I wanted, and I’ve been wearing them a lot over at Maya’s on days when it’s a little cool to just be running around in just a tshirt.

There were actually three boxes for me under the tree, two of them pretty big, and all of them wrapped as beautifully as Joyce always wraps gifts. I’m always telling her it’s a shame to have to tear something that she obviously worked so hard on…so this year she grabbed one of the boxes and ripped the paper for me lol.

She got me some pretty awesome things that I really could use – a bunch of WeatherTech accessories for the shitbox – floor liners, trunk liner and a super deluxe version of the cup phone holder that includes a place to hold hand sanitizer. (That’s why there was that little bottle of hand sanitizer in my stocking.) Like I said, we’ve kind of moved away from romantic gifts into things we really want or need, and the car accessories were something I really did need but would never have thought of spending money on this year. I know I call the shitbox a shitbox, but it’s still my car, and I actually do like it…and the mats I’ve got are pretty…well…ratty. Besides, the shitbox is all I got until I can afford that Silverado I want, so I might as well take good care of it.

So what did I get Joyce? Until Maya said she’d pay me all the money she’s paying me for being in the bubble, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to afford anything more than card and maybe a box of chocolates. But it turned out that I did have something to spend on her, so I got her…okay, this may not sound super romantic either…a set of pillows for the bed. Joyce has been complaining about the pillows she has since I’ve known her. She got all new ones that Allan recommended when she redecorated the house, and, after about two weeks, she started complaining about those. Then she got some dang awful memory foam pillows that were like rocks to sleep on, and we gave those away to MooMoo and NumNums after a week. (Figures those awful cats would like them.) So we went back to sleeping on the ones Allan recommended, but Joyce complains about her neck almost every morning I’m there.

I’ve been channel surfing a lot since I got to the pool house, and I keep seeing the commercial for the super Christian dude in the blue shirt who makes his pillows in Minnesota. I’m sure y’all know exactly who I mean. The people in the commercial make the pillows sound great, and they were having a Christmas special…so I decided to get Joyce four of those. They came in two big boxes that the boys did their best to help me wrap. (They actually know more about wrapping than I do.) It didn’t exactly look like Joyce’s perfect gift wrapping, but we at least got the boxes covered in paper and glued on a bow.

I know it’s a practical gift and you’re supposed to get your girlfriend something more romantic for Christmas, but, on the other hand, if you look at it from a different angle, they are something we’re going to use together. They’re definitely something Joyce needs and she might not know about the Christian dude’s pillows since they don’t have commercials for anything on TCM, which I think is all she watches these days. (Joyce does everything she can to avoid the news.)

And, hey, I got a big kiss and a hug from Joyce when she opened the boxes. And she said something about looking forward to breaking them in lol. So maybe they were a romantic gift after all…

Then Keaton came over, and it was great seeing him, too. I’ve been in contact with him like I’ve been with Joyce…but zoom and face time aren’t the same thing as being in the same room as people. Keaton brought chili like he usually does, although this time he brought half of it in a freezer container, “so you can have it with bubba when he gets out of jail.”

He was threatening he wasn’t going to come in an ugly sweater this year, but he did. He didn’t go for a sports theme (Keaton: “I figured bubba was gonna get a Dodgers one, and these fuckin sweaters are gay enough without us being fuckin twins”), but went all Texas instead. He had a bright green sweater with a big outline of the state over his chest and a totally goofyass Santa Claus head in the middle, wearing a cowboy hat with fur trim and a little bell. (We made Mrs. LaSalle the judge of who had the ‘ugliest’ ugly sweater once she tuned in. She gave the prize to Keaton; he deserved it.)

I got Keaton something off the TV too (told y’all I channel surf a lot now that I get like 800 channels) that was half joke and half serious: it was a hair cutter with a great slogan, ‘if you can comb it, you can cut it’. Keaton’s got a terrible haircut all the time; this might fix the problem. He hates going to have his hair cut, so, maybe if he can do it himself, he’ll do it more often. He got me something pretty cool that I can definitely use, since it seems like all I do is wear Dodgers gear on TV, a Corey Seager World Series MVP tshirt.

There were other presents under the tree as well. Joyce always gets Keaton kitchen gadgets I don’t understand, and Mrs. LaSalle sent over presents for the three of us too. We three chipped in and bought her a few bottles of wine that came recommended by the man at the wine store where she mentioned to us once that she shopped. Mrs. LaSalle probably has everything she could want…so it makes sense to get her something that gets used up and that you have to buy more of.

After we had some (non-alcoholic) egg nog, we did what we did on Thanksgiving and got Joyce’s computer monitor from the den set up in the dining room so that Mrs. LaSalle could ‘join us’ for dinner. Joyce made the same menu as last year – turkey with all the Yankee trimmings – although she decided to give the snap been casserole a try this year, and did a good job. A lot of people don’t put enough onions in it; Meemaw always says that you have to put the onions in with the snap beans as well as on top. Joyce’s turkey was especially juicy this year, even the white meat. She said that she put some bacon over the breast while it was roasting, a tip she got from Allan after she told him she wasn’t pleased with her Thanksgiving turkey. I’m not sure how it makes a difference, but the result was bomb.

Mrs. LaSalle said that, after her experience baking pies for Thanksgiving, she wasn’t gonna do that for another year lol…so we had pies from a place near where Keaton used to live called Pie & Burger. Joyce got us an apple, a pumpkin, and something I haven’t had for a while but which I thought was totally amazing when I did have it there, a butterscotch cream pie. I had a piece of each…and then seconds of the butterscotch.

We had a great time. Mrs. LaSalle has an endless supply of good stories and really knows how to laugh. She had her own Christmas dinner to eat, just like at Thanksgiving…although I wasn’t entirely sure why she was eating ‘with’ us when her family obviously couldn’t have gone away on vacation and left her behind like they usually do. I didn’t ask, but maybe she just prefers having holiday dinners with us than with her family. That sucks…her family doesn’t know what they’re missing out on. Mrs. LaSalle has become a real part of my Los Angeles ‘family’, and me, Joyce and Keaton all are happy to have her.

Keaton ubered home at around 9:30 (again, he didn’t want to worry about having an extra beer after dinner), which is when Mrs. LaSalle excused herself too…leaving me and Joyce alone for the first time since November 29. That’s an awful long time to be separated from your girlfriend…and I was due back in the bubble the next day. We did the dishes (it’s kind of a nice feeling doing the dishes with your girlfriend after the guests have gone home), and…well…didn’t exactly watch a whole lot of the bluray of It’s a Wonderful Life Joyce had taken out for us. It’s cool…I don’t think she was too interested in the movie, either lol.

So it was a good Christmas, even with COVID, even with the bubble, even without being able to go home… I’ve got some cool people to celebrate the holiday with, and, yeah, while I reckon it might have been cool to have had a bigger gathering than just the 4 of us, I don’t think any of us felt deprived or lonely. (And, like Joyce said after Keaton had left, the less people you have, the less dishes there are to wash lol.)

Maya said I could spend the morning of the 26th with my girlfriend, but that she wanted to have me back by 1 so the boys could get some exercise. That seemed fair. So I got to have a nice leisurely breakfast with Joyce in my bathrobe from 2 Christmases ago and pajama bottoms from last year and use my baseball mug, which I’ve gotten to missing lol. I wasn’t expecting it, but Joyce actually made chocolate gravy to go with breakfast, since she figured I wasn’t going to get anything like it at the Sharpmans. That made for a great way to end my Christmas celebrations.

After that, I spent a little time setting up everything Joyce had bought me for the car so she could see what it looked like, and then I drove back to San Marino.

I didn’t know what Maya was going to do with us in terms of making sure it was still safe to have us in the bubble. As it turned out, what she did was get in some COVID tests that give you a result in like 15 minutes. I’m not sure where or how she got them, but she did, and there was a nurse waiting to administer them when I got back from my holiday celebrations.

Maybe Maya went a little far by making me stand in the service porch while my test was processing, but it really was ready in 15 minutes…and I’m glad to report that it turned out negative. So did everyone else’s who took the day off from the bubble. So all’s well that ends well…after, all things considered, a dang good Christmas.

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