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Iím a Dad Again 

Christmas Nightmares

Brian Barth 

What was one of my favorite holidays has slowly turned into one of the worst.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday where families gather to enjoy each otherís company and merriment. Now it has become a black ops pre-planning day for what the retailers like to call "Black Friday."

We ate dinner around 2 p.m.óat that time, most people think of it as lunchóbut the ladies decided they need the extra time in the early evening to strategize for their attack on the stores.

After swearing against it, the last person eats the last slice of pie, signaling my sister-in-law to sneak away from the table to quickly and quietly retrieve her laptop. Upon her return, the women begin to huddle around the dinning room table. My daughter, without knowing any better, or on a dare from one of her older cousins, ran into the dinning room with the intent to ask her mother, my wife, for something. The women immediately seized chatter, as if a spy just entered the room. Before my daughter had a chance to open her mouth to ask a question, her Nana said, "Go get your father, and stay with him until we are finished." With that, one of the women closed off all entry points to the room. I could have sworn they placed the dog just outside the door to warn them of any oncoming intruders.

No one could string together any sentences other than a lot of words, laughter, and cheers. Without warning, the doors flew open. I heard one of my sister-in-laws say, "Letís celebrate with a drink." Instantly the guys ushered the kids to their mothers and we ran off to the bar room with a TV trying to catch the last football game.

Everyone went to bed early to make sure they were all well-rested for the long day ahead of them. I went to bed especially early because I knew I was going to have to entertain my 1 year-old all day.

I heard this faint crying at 1 a.m. At first I thought it was from my wife thinking she was having a dream about missing out on a deal. As I became more aware of my surroundings I noticed it was my son, who was in a pack-n-play next to the bed. Though my wife wonít admit to it, I know she heard him but didnít want to waste her energy fearing the ramification of fatigue the next day. So I crept out of bed to see what was wrong. When I reach down to pick him up he smelled of puke. Man! You have to be kidding me. I quietly take him out of the room, change him and get him from waking up the house. I bring him back into the room and let him lay next to my wife on the bed while I strip down his pack-n-play. Once I got everything cleaned up I gently put him back to rest in his little cage.

Two a.m. came with another whimper. Knowing this noise from just an hour ago, I knew it was my son. He got sick again Ė figures. I repeated the procedure of changing him. This time we were out of pjís so I had to put him in his sweats and shirt. I decided to take him downstairs knowing that I would have worse problems if he woke up his mother.

The sun slowly began to rise as did the women preparing for their day of shopping. The coffee maker was working overtime. It was about 8 a.m. when my wife and her two sisters were standing by the garage door waiting impatiently for the nieces to come down. They were trying to sneak in a few extra minutes of sleep. I suppose they werenít moving quickly enough. The eldest sister yelled, "We are leaving and if you arenít up when the car leaves the driveway you arenít going."

Youíd think with all that precise military planning they would know that one of the first lessons you learn is to never leave anyone behind, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

As the door swung closed you heard this horrible noise from upstairs. My eldest niece (back from Clemson University for the holiday) who tried sneak in some extra sleep hurried to dress and was running down the steps, three at a time. I guess that was taking too much time and jumped the remaining five steps, fell and crashed into the door. Before anyone could get to the area where the noise was, she had gathered herself and all we saw was a flash of hair and coat streaming across the driveway.

The morning turned into afternoon and the afternoon turned into night. The women still hadnít arrived. My brother-in-law, who worked a half day, began texting his wife about 5 p.m. to see where they were. No replay of course. Conveniently, the explanation was no reception. So, I decided to text my wife, "You know you donít get paid by the hour to shop?" The only response was, "Ha, ha, ha, we are on our way home."

We finally were on the road to come home about 8 p.m. It was a long day for both of us.

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