Amy Roberts: Christmas vacation
December 30, 2014
Everybody has a story about that one Christmas, where the best-made plans went flying out the window and chaos reigned.
One of my dear friends loves to tell the story about hosting her first Christmas with her in-laws and her own family. She was so excited to have everyone at her house, blending traditions and creating new ones. The Christmas dinner she spent weeks planning and hours preparing was ruined when the dog stole the prime rib off the counter and took it out the dog door before anyone could stop it. They got takeout from a bowling alley instead.
When I was growing up, I often heard about the Christmas when my uncle gave my cousin (his son) a BB gun. He was so excited he accidentally shot my grandma’s beloved pet duck, Daisy.
I have a friend from college who swears she is now divorced because of the first Christmas she spent with her then mother-in-law. She and her ex-husband were married less than one year when they went to his mom’s for Christmas. His mother invited his high-school girlfriend to Christmas dinner and spent the entire meal commenting how he’d married the wrong woman.
It seems every family has a story of the worst, yet years later, most laughable, Christmas.
Until last week, I wasn’t sure my family did. But rest assured, Christmas 2014 is one we won’t soon forget.
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I went home to Omaha, planning to spend 10 full days with my family, meeting my new niece and catching up with old friends. Instead, I spent about 100 hours in a hospital, seven hours filling out police reports for motor vehicle accidents, another 27 hours at a physical therapy rehab facility and exactly two hours apologizing for my dog in this rehab place.
It started Dec. 21. I was an hour from my parents’ house when my dad called and told me to meet him at the hospital. My mom, who is built like a baby bird and is as clumsy as they come, had fallen and she was in so much pain, he had to take her to the hospital.
I wasn’t terribly surprised by his call. This woman could require hospitalization for sneezing. In the last five years she’s torn her rotator cuff (in an aerobics class I made her go to with me), broken her ankle falling off the sidewalk while walking the dog, broke her tibia and tore her ACL when I insisted she could indeed ski a run she didn’t think she could (she was right), and she broke her wrist falling out of a model home. Given how accident-prone she is, we are rarely surprised to see her in a cast. But this fall was a doozy even by her standards.
Deciding to clean out the refrigerator, my mom found popsicles that had expired. She decided to toss them in the garbage can in the garage. Somehow, she completely missed the step and fell, smacking her hip on the concrete. She broke it and had to have an emergency hip replacement.
The hospital where she initially went didn’t do the surgery she needed, so she had to be transported. I met up with my family in the ER and it was decided my dad would ride with my mom in the ambulance and I would follow them to the other hospital in my dad’s car. On the way, I made the assumption ambulances didn’t have to stop at stop signs and accidentally rear-ended it. Not exactly a wreck I could hide from my parents. My dad is still threatening to sue me for his pain and suffering.
Two days later, my sister and I went out for drinks and someone hit her car in the parking lot and didn’t leave a note. So we had the pleasure of watching four hours of surveillance video and then I got to fill out my second police report of a family member’s smashed vehicle.
A few days after that, my mom was released from the hospital, but because they have so many stairs in their home, and because my dad lacks the nurturing caretaker gene, she went to an in-patient rehab facility first for a few days. One day I took my dog, Stanley, up to visit her. Many of the people there use a walker, and on the bottom of their walkers they often have tennis balls. Stanley goes bonkers for tennis balls. Let’s just say, by the time we were asked to leave, I think at least two of the patients required their second hip replacement surgery that week, my mom being one of them.
Perhaps we should change our last name to "Griswold."
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley.
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