Wow, well, the last two weeks have been everything I hoped—and feared—they would be: hectic, stressful, heartwarming and awesome. 2010 went out with a bang.


Day one of vacation, Christmas Eve, I awoke to my phone ringing at 8:30 a.m. It was an 800 number, though, and it only rang twice, so…whatever. Then I looked up the number: Delta Airlines. Not that they left a voicemail, but a little  research revealed that my Christmas afternoon trip to Huntsville was among the 500 flights canceled by Delta that day. I also discovered I'd automatically been rescheduled to an earlier flight, 8:30 a.m. Christmas morning, which…no. The whole point was to spend the morning with my family before heading up to see the Cheetah Club clan. So instead I booked the 7 a.m. flight Dec. 26. Joy.


But hey, it meant extra Wallace time, opening presents into the afternoon, then Christmas dinner at Mattison’s Riverside (which, well, let’s just say they’re becoming quite popular for Christmas dinners…and their reservation system could probably use some tweaking).

The 'rents mischievous new cat, Toby.

Dark and early the next morning, I flew out of Sarasota. Then, trotting through the refugee camp that was the Atlanta airport, I got a text message…from Delta: “Your flight has been delayed.” Oh, god, this is exactly what I…wait a minute…that’s my old flight number. I do not envy them (or Mattison’s, for that matter) the holiday onslaught, so I was only amused by each subsequent update regarding the old flight…which…somehow came back from the dead to be delayed a few more times before being canceled again. Yeah, I don’t know.


What I do know is that, after the initial shuffle, I had zero difficulties or delays getting to Huntsville. And considering I had to climb over people who were spending the 12 days of Christmas in Concourse D, I understand just how lucky I was.


Never have I smiled so much on final descent: The view of northern Alabama from the air revealed squares of pure white. As we got closer, somewhere in the back of my mind, a standard observation blip suggested the picture on the TV was getting fuzzy. Except no: I was looking out the window, and that was snow, coming down so heavy I could see it streaking like static as we landed. My previous experiences with snow were 1) skiing on blown snow in North Carolina when I was 11, and 2) making icy snowballs from the stuff that had been scraped up off the street in Rochester, NY, when I was 12. And I might as well have been that age again, so giddy was I.

Huntsville airport, with static.

Yes, I was the lone jackass standing outside the airport, trying to take a picture of falling snow. Hey, I’ve made fun of tourists before; I figure I’ve just got that coming.


‘Course, the drive to the house also demonstrated exactly why snow sucks, especially in an environment where the first snow melts, then refreezes into icy goodness. The 25 mph highway speeds were just fine with me.

Yeah, I see why people don't like driving in this.

But once we got there, I took full advantage: multiple snowball fights, snow angels, a pathetic but satisfying snowman, savoring the “pfff pffff pfff” sound walking through fields, even sledding. OK, Delta, you’re forgiven.

At least I wasn't the only jackass outside without a jacket on...




CCB retrieves the sled after his initial flight.

A sunset walk, with deer tracks.

Still, though, come Tuesday, we drove back.


Wednesday, CCB had to rush out of work from St. Pete to get to my parents’ house in time to open his presents from the Wallaces before Thing 1 and Captain Slack headed back to North Carolina. Now that sentence right there is pure busy Christmas.


But to remedy all this madness? Try this on for size: a New Year’s Eve camping trip at Linger Lodge, organized by the Harribles, who celebrate their anniversary on Dec. 31. Well, it was a “camping” trip with an air-conditioned cabin, microwaved hors d’oeurves and cable so we could watch the ball drop. Still, we sat around a campfire and slept soundly in a tent. And when I awoke at 10:30—crazy late for sleeping on the ground—there was virtually no sound. For the number of people out there, Linger Lodge is incredibly serene. (Which explains why one of our neighbors was so upset by CCB and Krazy Kevin starting a wrestling match at 2 a.m. Live and learn.) I think we’ve finally found our New Year’s Eve tradition.

Of course, just to make sure all 12 days of Christmas meet the required amount of crazy, I've still got to get presents for Thing 1 and Thing 2's Epiphany birthday before making the trek to Miami for a hockey tournament this weekend. Next year I'm renting some reindeer, dammit.