Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"Play And Make Good Cheer, For Christmas Comes But Once A Year"

The Christmas holidays were too short this year. Eight days were not enough for us.

It seemed as if our four days in Oklahoma were spent in a revolving door—we left as soon as we arrived, or so it seemed to us.

The household was filled with exactly the same family members as last year: Josh’s family, as well as his aunt and uncle from Dallas. On Christmas Day, we were joined by additional aunts and uncles, which made for a full household.

Josh’s family is doing very well.

Josh’s sister loves college, and she loves Vanderbilt. She likes the campus, she likes her professors, she likes her fellow students. She even likes Vanderbilt’s raised basketball court, which visiting teams detest with a vengeance. She wants to visit Josh and me in Boston soon.

Josh’s brother is doing very well. Now that football season has come to an end, he has more free time on his hands (he decided not to play basketball his senior year, much to his father’s regret). He is using that free time to do some reading until track and field season starts. He chose Southern Methodist University over other schools because he liked the SMU campus, because he liked the SMU environment, and because he likes Dallas. He is thinking about a career as a veterinarian.

Josh’s mother is lost with her only daughter away at school. She says she still does not know how to cope, and that it has been good that her work has kept her so busy the last few months that she has not had time to mope.

Josh’s father is fine, but I worry what he will do next year when his youngest heads off to college, leaving yet another gap in the household. It is very hard for a parent to see the offspring leave home, one by one, leaving an empty household behind.

Josh’s aunts and uncles believe that Josh and I are exceedingly boring, as the following Christmas conversation, repeated over and over, demonstrates.

Question: What do you guys do all day?

Answer: Well, Josh goes to class and I go to work. At night, Josh studies and I read.

Question: Doesn’t that get old?

Answer: Well, we gotta do what we gotta do.

Question: How can you stand it?

Answer: Well, we know it will all be over in three years.

Question: I hear you guys live in a really tiny apartment?

Answer: Yes, it is pretty small.

Question: But I hear you guys put up a Christmas tree?

Answer: Yes, we did, but we barely have room for it.

Question: That’s what I hear. How can you stand it?

Answer: We know it will only be temporary.

Question: How much is your rent?

Answer: Way too much.

Question: It must be awful to have to pay a fortune to live in a place you can’t stand. How do you do it?

Answer: Well, we fixed it up as much as could so we could stand the place. We get by. It will do for three years—it will HAVE to.

Question: Is there anything to do in Boston?

Answer: Yes, quite a bit, but we don’t have much time to do things, and we always have to schedule things around Josh’s study load.

Question: Have you been to a Celtics game?

Answer: No, not yet.

Question: Patriots?

Answer: No, not yet.

Question: Red Sox?

Answer: No, not yet.

Question: Boy, you really HAVEN’T done anything, have you?

Answer: Not really.

Question: But you’ve been to the Boston Pops, I hear?

Answer: Well, we’ve been to the Boston Symphony, which uses many of the same musicians as the Boston Pops.

Question: Who is the conductor?

Answer: James Levine.

Question: Oh, God! The fat guy who used to be on PBS? The one with the big hair and big glasses?

Answer: Yes, that James Levine.

Question: Do you LIKE James Levine?

Answer: No, I do not like James Levine at all.

Question: Me, neither. Then why do you go to the Boston Symphony?

Answer: Well, to hear the music—and we have only gone to hear one James Levine concert. Otherwise, we wait and catch guest conductors we want to hear.

Question: Isn’t there something you can do for fun?

Answer: Well, we get by. And that’s pretty much all we were hoping for. In fact, things are going better than I expected.

Question: How so?

Answer: Well, we’ve got our apartment arranged just the way we like it, and we are happy there now. It is home to us now—at least for three years. It will do. It’s peaceful. It’s quiet. It’s our refuge from school and work. It suits our needs for a brief interval.

Question: I hear you don’t have a television?

Answer: No, we do not.

Question: I could not live without a television. How do you do it?

Answer: For now, it would only be a distraction, and we’re probably better off NOT having a television.

Question: Where do you get your news?

Answer: I read the papers at work, and Josh reads the papers at school. And we can read more papers online at night if we want to.

Question: Well, there’s nothing on television worth watching, so you’re not missing out on anything. However, I could not live without a television. How do you guys do it?

Answer: Well, if we break down and get one, it will be because of sports. That’s the one thing we both miss. However, the danger is that we would spend every Saturday watching games all day, the entire afternoon and into the evening, and that is the very thing we are intent on avoiding.

Question: I couldn’t live without ESPN during the hoops season. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays: I’m parked in front of the tube, for both games, all night. Don't you miss not being able to watch the games?

Answer: That’s precisely the danger for us if we had a television.

Question: Then how can you follow the Sooners?

Answer: We always read the game synopses online.

Question: And they’re having such a great season, too! Still unbeaten, and ranked number four. Will you be able to see the national title game in football?

Answer: No. That arrives during Josh’s exams. Nothing we can do about it.

Question: A shame. Do you think the Sooners will win?

Answer: They’re the underdog, I believe. I hate Florida, but my instinct tells me that Florida will win.

Question: You’re killing me! Don’t say that! Are you serious?

Answer: I hope Stoops manages to pull it off—but his game plans did not work the last couple of bowl games. Like last year.

Question: Wasn’t that awful?

Answer: So I hope Oklahoma wins, but the offenses are even and Florida has a better defense, and I think that favors Florida.

Question: But you will not go watch the game somewhere? Just that one night?

Answer: We can’t. That night is probably the single most important study night for Josh during his entire exam period.

Question: How long is the exam period?

Answer: Ten days.

Question: Sounds awful. It sounds like you guys live priestly existences. How can you stand it?

Answer: We gotta do what we gotta do.

Question: Boring. Boring. Boring. I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes. How do you do it?

Answer: We gotta do what we gotta do.

Our four days in Minnesota were primarily all about the baby. Josh and I were completely captivated by her, and for those four days we were always granted first claim to hold her and rock her and feed her.

I fear that the baby, too, believes that Josh and I are boring. No matter what we talked to her about, she yawned over and over and over. Apparently she found nothing we said to her to be stimulating in the least.

I don’t know when we shall see her again, because I do not think we will be able to go home for Easter this year. We may not be able to see her again until sometime this summer, and that pains me very much. She will be six months old by early summer, and we will have missed out on six very precious months.

It is sad even to think about it.


  1. Sorry, but I have to vote with baby Ena and Joshie's aunts and uncles. You guys are boring, boring, boring, boring.

    I'm not going to miss tonight's game. At least someone will be watching it, even if you guys are taking a pass.

    For Joshie's sake, I hope Oklahoma wins. I'm still upset about Pitt and the Spartans getting hosed.

  2. I'm following the game online via ESPN, and keeping Josh up-to-date. It is almost the end of the first half, and tied, 7-7. It appears that the Sooners should have scored two additional times, and be leading 21-7. The Florida goal-line defense must be very good.

  3. Andrew:

    Do you have email contact? I need to send you photos of the ugliest gay couple in America.