Christmas two thousand and eight was a fantastic holiday with friends, family, great food, love, and laughter. Like many families and couples, Christmas spans a few sunrises and sunsets for us, as it’s the only feasible way to visit my family, Sarah’s family, our friends, and still have a small, family Christmas at home. Christmas started on the actual Christmas day, because we weren’t ready for it any earlier.
This multi-day celebration was bisected with the scariest moment of my entire life. Today’s post is rather lengthy, as I feel it’s necessary to tell the whole story, instead of just the part that made my heart stop. So bear with me, and I’ll do my best to write the story well enough to keep your attention.
Chapter I – Pre-Christmas
I simultaneously hate and envy the person that says they completed all their shopping and wrapping on December 15th, or even earlier. We finished our shopping on December 23rd, and the wrapping on December 24th. Once that was complete, we put out milk and cookies for the late night burglar wearing the red suit. Upon putting Tyler to bed, we sent word that it was safe for Santa to come (wink, wink) and fill our stockings and leave gifts under the tree. To pass the time waiting for the strike of the midnight hour, Sarah and I fell asleep on the couch. Where oh where did the days of partying until the wee hours of the morning go?
I barely slept that night. Even as an adult, the anticipation of Christmas and gifts is more effective than three pots of coffee at keeping the angels of slumber from overtaking me. When Tyler woke up for nursies at God-knows-what-time, I was ready, Sarah wasn’t. Instead, Sarah fed him, put him to bed and returned to ours. When Tyler woke up at 6:37am, I was ready. Unfortunately for me, Sarah wasn’t. She brought Tyler to our bed and lay down with him. I sometimes think she enjoys torturing me. Finally, at 8:30a, Sarah – who was facing away from me – says, “well good morning Ty Ty.” I jerked myself up and peered over at them, unable to contain my excitement.
Chapter II – Christmas at Home
In a word, Christmas was awesome. In a couple words, Christmas was super awesome.
Last Christmas was special because that’s when we told our families that Sarah was 15 weeks pregnant with a baby boy. This Christmas trumped that, a hundred times over, because it was Tyler’s first. He loved tearing (and trying to eat) the wrapping paper. I would actually love to give him a wrapped box everyday to open. He made out like a bandit too. His stocking stuffers included food, pacifiers, and a little baby toothbrush. The tree held even greater treasure, in the form of books and toys.
Delilah didn’t do too bad either. Santa knows that we’re trying to figure out what she’s allergic to, so he didn’t bring her any food products.
Sarah and I faired pretty well also. Among other things, she got the slow cooker that she so desperately wanted, and I got the new widescreen LCD monitor that I so desperately wanted.
We played with Tyler and his new toys for awhile, until he was ready for his nap. While he slept, we packed up the car with gifts and pies. After getting cleaned and dressed, Tyler was still asleep, so we played Guitar Hero for about 45 minutes. Tyler finally woke up around 1p. Sarah fed him, then we all loaded into the car.
Chapter III – Sarah’s Family
Forty-five minutes later, we arrived at Sarah’s parents’ house. Unsurprisingly, Tyler received lots of toys, books, clothes, and kisses. The food was great. Sarah brought a homemade apple pie, a homemeade blueberry/peach pie, and a homemade pumpkin pie. They were delicious!
At one point, I hear Allison (Aunt Ace) say, “Tyler, are you ok?” I looked down to see Tyler sitting on the floor, holding a pair of his newly acquired pants. He was looking straight ahead, with his mouth open, trying to gag. Before I even got my feet on the ground, Ace was already next to him with her finger in his mouth. After what felt like 2 hours, but was actually less than five seconds, she pulls something out of his mouth. Apparently, Tyler had been chewing on the cardboard tag that retailers attach to clothing. After being drenched in Tyler’s spittle, it tore off and got stuck on the roof of Tyler’s mouth, toward the back. Tyler was then put under constant surveillance.
We got home that night, put Tyler to bed, then played with our gifts. Sarah read a book using her new booklight, and I tranferred pictures to the computer using my new card reader.
Chapter IV – The Long Drive
We left our house at 11am on the 26th to make the 2 hour drive to my parents’ house. We got there 4 hours later. Just as I turned onto the entrance ramp to the expressway, we saw that traffic wasn’t moving in either direction. People were standing outside their cars, and police were everywhere. Have I mentioned, yet, that we had an ice storm the night before? I did a U-turn on the ramp (yes, I drove the wrong way on a one-way) and we decided to take a state road North, until it intersected with the expressway again.
Fifteen minutes later, we were cruising at a respectable 40 miles an hour. We seemed to have gotten past all the ice, and were on wet roads. The temperature was expected to hit 40ºF, so that should take care of all the ice we just got past.
Suddenly, although I was driving straight, the car was pointing toward oncoming traffic, and was drifting into that lane. I looked ahead to see three cars heading our way. I pressed the brakes and slowly turned the wheel to the right. Nothing changed. We were heading directly towards the oncoming cars. I considered for a moment that this was going to be deadly for some (if not all) of us. The car was dangerously close to going into a spin. I could feel the rear end trying to slide around. Very far away, I heard Sarah’s voice. It wasn’t a scream, but more of a statement.
Immediately, a picture of Sarah, and a picture of Tyler flashed in my head. It seemed that a part of my brain flipped a switch and put me on some type of auto-pilot. I knew what I was doing while I was doing it, and I knew why I was doing it. But I didn’t know how I was doing it, because I really didn’t feel like I was controlling my own body.
As calmy as if I was taking a leisurely walk through a park, I said “It’s cool, it’s cool. I’ve got this. We’ll be ok.”
I slowly turned the wheel to the right again. I eased onto the gas pedal, praying that the spinning front wheels would pull us back into our lane. Miracle, hand of God, or sheer dumb luck, I don’t know, but it worked. I saw a telephone pole with about 20 feet of ice and snow between it and us. I knew that the snow would slow us down, and I decided that I would gladly take damage to the car just as long as my family was safe.
I tried steering to the left, to straighten us out, but there was no traction whatsoever. We left the road. The front passenger corner of the car hit the snow, with an inch of solid ice on top of it. It spun the front end around to face the right direction. We slid along the snow/ice wall and came to a stop. We were sitting as if we pulled off the road to look at a map. The scariest moment of my entire life ended without so much as a scratch on us or the car.
I got out and started stomping the ice so I could have some traction to push the car. I could only get us about 10 feet or so. Luckily, another motorist came to help push. When Sarah got back on the road, she couldn’t stop because we were still on solid ice. That, and another car was coming from behind, so stopping would have been too dangerous. I thanked the guy that helped push and started running towards the car. I yelled for Sarah to keep going just as I grabbed the rear spoiler. At that point, I pulled myself along the car. I quit running and my feet were literally gliding on the ice. I actually did think to myself, “Ok, this is pretty cool.” as I dropped into the passenger seat. Tyler, my dear son, slept through the entire ordeal, and Delilah was just as happy as before. About a mile later, we had to stop for about 20 minutes because a salt truck was stuck in the road. The driver was shoveling ice under his wheels to get some traction.
Shortly thereafter, the ice really did melt and we were able to continue our trip.
Chapter V – My Family
My parents freaked when I told them the story of our death-defying trip up to see them. I got to see my older brother, 2 of his sons, my younger brother, his girlfriend, my parents, and my grandparents. My sister is living in Kansas, and my other brother isn’t around very much, so they weren’t there for Christmas.
Tyler, once again, received lots of lovings. He was a bit of a Grumpy-Gus though, because his schedule was all out of whack from the previous couple days. But for the most part, he was well mannered and great to be around. 99% of the time that he sleeps, he sleeps in his crib. We obviously couldn’t pack his crib, so we brought the Pack-N-Play for him to sleep in. He did not sleep very well at all. Tyler was up every 45 minutes or so. It was miserable for Sarah, poor girl. She was dog tired the next day.
My parents have one of those “Dancing Santa” toys. When you turn it on, he starts singing Jingle Bell Rock and moves his hips, side to side. Tyler was hypnotized by it. He just sat on the floor and stared at it, completely absorbed. It was hilarious.
The other highlight is that Tyler got up on his hands and knees and skooched forward on them. He’s been up on his hands and knees before, but this day is the day that he got up and stayed up on them. Once again, Sarah and I were excited and scared. I keep saying I need to baby-proof the house, but haven’t done so yet. I really need to now.
This has to have been one of my best Christmases ever (if not the best). Tyler puts such a big smile on my face everyday, and warms my heart. We all got home safe, with no near-misses this time. Our house is still a disaster zone, but that’s par for the course.
If you’ve actually read this far, I really appreciate it. I try to keep my posts to a reasonable length, but sometimes I just can’t help but to share more than normal.