Here we are at my last TOT of 2006 and I'm pretty much winging it. You do this long enough and the luster wears off the "special" end of the year wrap-up and new year resolutions columns.
I still love the Christmas columns. This year's holiday was a bit more reserved than most, our first without our beloved Uncle Fred Guzzo, but it was still hectic and even joyful.
Sainted Wife Barb and I were really trying to get everything finished so we could take Eddie and Kelly to a movie on Christmas Eve - the leading choices were Casino Royale and Night at the Museum - but that didn't happen. Barb had this impossible work schedule this month. I had various projects to complete. Our kids had after-school stuff. Two of our bathrooms were receiving necessary renovations, courtesy of Terry Fairbanks, my good friend and Barb's uncle-by-marriage. So...no movie, plus Barb and I were still wrapping presents until 2 a.m. Christmas morning. Okay, she was doing the wrapping, but I was keeping her awake so she wouldn't slice off a finger or something. She went to bad at 2; I watched the end of License to Kill until 3. I guess I really needed some "Bond. James Bond" that night.
I had fallen asleep on the couch, but Kelly and Eddie woke me up at 4. They still had presents to wrap for Barb. I don't much remember what happened in the next couple hours, but, eventually, Barb got up and we opened presents and we had a good morning and I grabbed another two hours of sleep before we left for church and my parents' house in Cleveland.
"Church" was Sts. Phillip and James, the church I attended as a kid. I went to the attached elementary school as well, but it's long gone, closed a decade or more ago as too many parish families moved to the suburbs. The former classrooms are now offices for a labor union and other concerns. Without them, given its shrinking congregation, the church itself would likely follow the school into the mists of memory.
I'm no longer a Catholic, but I do like the church. It's got a nice warm feeling to it. The pastor looks older and more frail every year, but he has a bright smile and a strong voice. He's a good man and I always enjoy his sermons.
My parents and siblings tend to be private, so I won't go into the details of our Christmas celebration. There were the expected tears for Fred, but also the joy of being together. I tried not to eat too much and failed miserably.
From my parent's house, my portion of the Isabellas headed back to Medina. My mother-in-law, Rose, had been cooking dinner at our house since about noon. I tried really hard not to eat too much, but you know how that goes on Christmas. Sigh.
Our next stop of Christmas was my "nephew" Ryan's house. He's actually Barb's cousin, the son of Terry and Nora Fairbanks, but, because we're so much older, he and his sister Heather have always called us "Uncle Tony" and "Aunt Barb." That I couldn't stay there long is probably the only reason I didn't eat too much there, too. The Lord moves in mysterious ways.
I left the party early to help a relative who was recently out of a relationship I would describe as "abusive" on several levels. My assistance was minor, which I stress because it will sound like more than it was when I tell you that I never expected to be going to a police station on Christmas night.
All I did was write a letter for the relative, go with her to deliver it to a business she co-owned with someone, and then take her to the police station to make sure the other party wouldn't get far if he tried to claim that her personal property - which she had removed from the building earlier - was stolen from that business. It wouldn't have been the first time the guy had tried to use the police to cause her grief.
My assistance was minor, but helping someone was a pretty good way to end my Christmas celebration. Well, that and all the tasty leftovers I've been eating ever since.
Of course, if you do it right, celebrating Christmas doesn't end with the actual day. The spirit should stay with you all year round, guiding your actions towards, your interactions with, and your reactions to your fellow man. No matter how you celebrate the day, or what other holidays you celebrate, or if you celebrate no religious holiday at all, the spirit of the season is all about the good will to your fellow man.
I hope this season has been full of joy for you and that you can carry that joy into the new year.
Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back on Monday to ring in the new year.
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
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