Tag Archives: in-laws

A quiet, but enjoyable Christmas

Happy Boxing Day, as they might say in the UK!

We had a simple and quiet Christmas here at Casa Poolman. I am about half way through a week-and-a-half long holiday break. Within the University System, we bunch several holidays in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day and close down the institute for a week. I added a couple of  vacation days to that run, so I will have off from the Saturday before Christmas through New Year’s Day. I love it.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Poolman is not so lucky. This was the year she was scheduled to work 12-hour shifts both Christmas Eve and Christmas. It stinks, but what can you do?

I spent the first half of Tuesday putzin’ around and taking care of last-minute Christmas preps. My CCD class provided the readers for a short Christmas Pageant during the 4 o’clock Mass. Everyone we were expecting showed up, and more-or-less on time. Yea! Last year, we had one child who missed all but one practice, but we agreed to let him participate after his mother called up and practically begged us to do so. Then “mom” failed to deliver him on time. We rearranged the readers to cover his slot, but he came running up just as we were walking into church for the start of Mass. I don’t blame the child, but the mom taught us a lesson we won’t forget.

No such drama this year. Our students all did great. After constant encouragement, they all read loud enough that the congregation could actually here them. Yea again!

Our reader team.

Our reader team.

Mrs. P got home around 8 o’clock and we split a pizza for dinner. Very fancy.

On Christmas morning, I got up and drove about 45 minutes out in the country to my daughter’s in-laws. Brad and Annie are great. It was very nice of them to invite me out for Christmas brunch. Writer Princess is very lucky (and so are we) that she has such a great set of in-laws. They a house on several acres out in the boonies. Annie has taken to raising livestock. She has turkeys, chickens, “runner ducks,” guinea fowl and goats. The highlight of yesterday’s visit were two week-old baby goats.  Very cute!

"Well, Tom. We made it through another holiday. Whew!

“Well, Tom. We made it through another holiday. Whew!”

Inquisitive goat.

“So what did you get for me?”

Back home in the early afternoon and started preps for dinner. I planned on a boneless rib-eye roast, twice-baked potatoes, green bean bundles and creamed pearl onions (Mrs. P’s creation ahead of time.) Everything went well, even the green-bean bundles, which were a little more effort than I originally planned.

Mrs. P got home around 7:30 pm and I handed her a vodka and tonic. The rest of our dinner guests included son, girlfriend, daughter, son-in-law, and son-in-law’s brother. I planned to take a picture of the meal, but, frankly, I was so wrapped up in getting it all together when it was time to serve, I just forgot.

Some friends/neighbors walked down as we were finishing dinner. We all gathered in the family room to open presents and visit.

Gathered around

Gathered around

...visiting.

…visiting.

I wish Mrs. P had been around for more of the activities, but given the circumstances, it was a pretty nice holiday.

Catchin’ up on a holiday week

Christmas is behind us, but I still have nearly a week left before having to go back to work. Life is good.

We had a rather quiet Christmas Eve and Christmas. Mrs. Poolman and I went to 4 pm Mass and then over to some friends for their annual Christmas Eve open house. Both our children were either working or were tied up with their spouse’s or GF’s families. They came over to our house late Saturday afternoon. We did the gift exchange and had a fantastic holiday meal of prime rib roast, twice-baked potatoes, squash casserole, and more. Yum-yum!

On Sunday morning, Mrs. P and I took off for Jacksonville to visit her two sisters. We had hoped some more of the nieces and nephews might have been able to join us for dinner, but it was not to be. That’s life. I contributed a pan of chicken enchiladas to the evening meal and we had a very nice visit.

We had a fairly busy day today. I had a routine dentist appointment this morning. After a lunch of left-overs from the above-mentioned Christmas dinner, we took two of our pets to the vet. Penny the Kitten needed her initial check up and round of immunizations. Casey the Lab, however, has some sort of growth between two of his toes on one of his front paws. The vet isn’t sure what it is, but says it’s about a 50-50 proposition that it may be a malignant tumor. He’ll remove it next week and sent it out for lab work. At the same time, Miss Penny is going to lose her “lady parts.”

We’re off to the church tonight for this round of the Interfaith Hospitality Ministry. As I have described in other posts, our church cooperates with others in the area to host homeless families for a week at a time. They need couples to spend the night at the church to “host” and troubleshoot as needed. We’ve done it several times already over the past two years. It’s an all-together good thing. Actually it’s less of trouble for me because I can sleep like a baby under almost any conditions. Mrs. P, on the other hand, hears every bang or creak and never does get much sleep. I guess I can count on her taking a “long winter’s nap” when we get home tomorrow morning.

Vacations gone awry Part II

In the early 1990s we were living in Oklahoma, far from both our families in Pennsylvania and Florida. We wanted to combine a vacation with a visit to Mrs. Poolman’s family in Jacksonville. The plan was to have the opportunity to visit, but not necessarily have to deal with family 24/7. (If you want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans.) Our solution, which we thought was brilliant at the time, was to rent a beach-front condo in Jacksonville Beach, about a half hour drive from the in-laws home.

“Gee,” we said to ourselves. “We can combine a beach vacation with a family visit without being totally inundated with family around the clock. This is perfect.”

We were wrong. We totally miscalculated Mother-in-Law’s guile and talent for conspiracy.

I need to say that I loved my late in-laws. I really did. Overall, we got along fabulously. FIL was laid-back to a fault. MIL, on the other hand, made up for her husband’s low initiative by being a fanatical planner and instruction-giver. She was always well meaning, but occasionally got carried away with her plans. That summer was one of them.

A few days before we flew to Jacksonville, Mrs. P was talking to her mother on the phone about the upcoming trip. MIL enthusiastically told Mrs. P that she had come up with a wonderful idea. She had rented another condo in the same building for the same week. She thought our idea of a vacation sounded like such fun she decided they would join us. And she had invited her brother and sister-in-law, and her three other grandchildren, ages roughly seven to 13, to spend the week with them.  And so they did.

Of course, the cousins all wanted to spend every waking moment together. The result was that rather than having a quiet week at the beach with our two children, we “enjoyed” a large group vacation with just about Mrs. P’s entire extended family.

It wasn’t terrible; I wouldn’t classify it as a “vacation from Hell.” But it certainly wasn’t what we had planned. I don’t think my mother-in-law ever really figured out why we didn’t appreciate her scheme.

We never “vacationed” in Jacksonville again.

Vacations gone bad

During the course of a recent conversation, we started talking about vacations gone bad. Daughter / Writer Princess regaled the group with the story of her brother’s (Poolboy’s) first encounter with alcohol. It was the nadir of one of those weeks-from-hell vacations.

We had rented a cabin in the North Carolina mountains, and included Mrs. Poolman’s late father, sister and her two teenaged children in the plans. The week got off to a rough start when Father-in-law (FIL) fell and broke his shoulder when he and SIL stopped for gas on the way up from Florida. Rather than getting it attended to at that time, he insisted he was OK and so they continued the trip for another two hours up into the mountains. By the time he got to the cabin, he had changed his tune and was in considerable discomfort. We spent our first night of vacation driving back to civilization, and two different hospitals to have FIL’s fractured shoulder X-rayed and treated.

The docs recommended FIL not travel for at least a week, so that dispelled any notions of just cancelling the “vacation.” We spent the week in a small cottage, caring for FIL and trying to come up with enough activities to keep the four teen-agers busy.

As hinted above, one evening, Poolboy and “B”, his male cousin, found their amusement in a bottle of Jim Beam that B had smuggled along on the trip. They kept it quiet. We didn’t discover the indulgence until Mrs. Poolman got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. She wondered why she couldn’t open the bathroom door. It seems that Poolboy was passed out on the floor while hugging the “porcelain queen.” As you might imagine, the next day both Poolboy and B felt like they would die. We had no sympathy.

That was as close as Mrs. Poolman ever got to killing and eating her children.

Part II of Awkward Vacations still to come.