A Funny Thing Happened on the Way Home For Christmas

This post has nothing whatsoever to do with innkeeping or the inn except that it happened to two people who happen to be innkeepers. Long ago, I dubbed my husband’s family’s Christmas traditions the “Meyer Christmas Spectacular.” It starts Christmas Eve with late church service followed by an elaborate opening of the stockings whereby each family member (there are six of us) buys everyone two stocking stuffers, wraps each gift, and provides a handwritten clue on each package. That makes sixty gifts, which, as tradition dictates, cannot be opened until the recipient guesses the contents. This typically carries on until about 3 a.m. Luckily there are homemade cookies and after dinner drinks available. We hit the sack exhausted, but not for long. Christmas morning finds us scrambling to wrap a couple last minute gifts, pumping our veins full of caffeine, and packing a well stocked diaper bag for our daughter who I’m feeling slightly resentful toward for having a good night’s sleep. Breakfast is at James’ parents – eggs, bacon, stollen scones, biscuits, and plenty of coffee. As gift opening gets underway, I’m wired and don’t anticipate the crash that will inevitably hit mid-afternoon. Time flies as we help prepare dinner, pack up gifts, set the dinner table, and welcome a sea of relatives. The day culminates with a huge spread of appetizers, a roast dinner, and dessert I don’t need, but eat anyway. We retire home in a food coma, drained, but content.

The prelude to the Meyer Christmas Spectacular is a five hour car ride to New Jersey several days prior where we spend Christmas Eve day with my dad and siblings before making the journey back just in time for church and stocking stuffers. This year, we decided to make the trip back slightly less painful by treating ourselves to take-out sushi for dinner. Sushi is our favorite meal, and though challenging to eat in the car, we figured it would be manageable and a fun splurge for the holidays. If you take anything away from this post, let it be this: DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES ATTEMPT TO EAT A SASHIMI BOAT FOR TWO WHILE DRIVING. The whole experience was a disaster – our GPS system steered us way further off the highway than we had anticipated, setting our already delayed trip back by a good twenty minutes. When we finally arrived, we decided our daughter was due for a diaper change and struggled through a surprise messy one while the poor thing was scrunched up on James lap which we were using as a very awkward makeshift changing table. When we finally settled her back into her car seat and began unpacking our spread (complete with soup which we didn’t realize was included), we realized our mistake. There were little foil to-go containers balancing on our knees, the console and the dashboard. The whole car smelled of raw fish and soy sauce and wouldn’t you know they forgot to include napkins. Our GPS was displaying an estimated arrival time back on the Cape of 10:04 p.m. and church started at 10. There was no time to pull over and organize properly. So, we shoveled $85 worth of not so good sushi into our mouths by hand in record time and thanks to James’ lead foot, we pulled into the church parking lot at 9:58. There were soy sauce stains on James’ shirt and we were feeling a bit remorseful about our expensive indulgence gone bad.

After church, we started to see the humor in the whole sushi fiasco. When I recounted the story to the family, we were all rolling with laughter picturing the scene. At least we had an $85 story to tell now, we reasoned. But then James’ sister handed out her own holiday tradition – scratch off tickets for everyone. And what do you think our combined winnings were? You guessed it – $85.

While, perhaps not always so obvious, I really do believe that there is a balance to life’s pleasures and disappointments. I can even relate this lesson to innkeeping – we may get a last minute cancellation, but then often take an unexpected booking. In any case, this time it worked out for us – but next time, we’ll stick with Subway!

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