Santa Claus is Coming To Town: Baby's First Christmas

Mike Grabman



Last I left you fearless readers, I had made it to my in-laws to see my wife and daughter for Christmas.  The next few days would be a whirlwind.  


One of the nice things about heading to my in-laws house is, they are head over heals for my child and love to babysit.  That meant the wife and I got to have a date night!  Another couple that was in town to visit family (who are good friends of ours), my wife’s sister and her husband, and the two of us had decided to go to dinner together.  We decided to check out one of the local spots, checking out online reviews and menus and eventually settling on "The Texas Roadhouse".  In my head I thought that this was going to be the greatest dining experience of my life.  The menus online looked ridiculous.  The drink menu more than anything else.  The other guys were in the same mindset as me going into this experience and our wives pretty much just thought (correctly) that we are a bunch of idiots.  So I got ready for our date night by putting on my cleanest t-shirt.  Unfortunately my leg was still hurting like hell and so my wife said that she'd drive instead of us taking an Uber.  So I climbed in the back seat and away we went.  We were meeting our friends there at 5:30pm, because apparently we were going to eat at the same time as most 80 year olds.  I didn't think anything of it, the Texas Roadhouse being a chain and having roughly 200 tables I assumed we would have no trouble getting one.  Thankfully, one of the other guys had called ahead and made a reservation because the Texas Roadhouse was packed to the gills.  At 5:30.  On a Tuesday.  
My friends had already been seated and we met them at the booth.  I was limping along quite nicely at this point as I climbed into the booth.  My friend Pat looked at me and says "hey man, the service is a little slow, if you want a drink you might as well order two at a time".  So after looking over the drink menu I decided that the only sensible thing to drink was the specialty craft cocktail, "The Jamaican Cowboy" which was a margarita mixed with Malibu rum.  My brother-in-law, Matt, ordered the Hurricane Margarita, which was a margarita mixed with rum (I'm just saying, their craft cocktail menu was SO on point).  The ladies ordered beers, like a bunch of fools.  The drinks came, after several mistakes, about 30 minutes later.  It was no big deal, as we were sitting and talking and having a good time, but now I was wondering if I should've listened to Pat about double ordering. 
Luckily I didn't, and was making my way very slowly through my goblet of frozen delectable drink when we placed our food order.  My leg was still really smarting.  I ordered a steak with the fresh vegetables and applesauce sides.  It took a bit for all of our food to come out and by the time it did, I really wasn't hungry.  The pain in my leg overtook how hungry I was.  I was feeling downright miserable.  I took like 2 bites of my steak, ate all my applesauce (like a big boy), and didn't touch my "fresh vegetables" which came to the table covered in plastic, to which the wait staff apologized over and over for and insisted that they were "fresh" (despite the fact that I wasn't complaining or anything).  My wife is a vegetarian and got a couple of sides and had noticed me not eating, drinking, and looking miserable.  She saved me.  She gave her credit card to her sister and told her that we had to go.  I apologized to everyone and we left the restaurant (don't worry, her sister got my food in a to go box and I ate the steak in the morning with eggs).  I felt terrible for having to end date night early, especially with friends who we get to see so rarely.  
The next day my wife's family all gets together at my in-laws home for a large holiday meal.  Many of her aunts and uncles live in the area and they all come for it, a total of about 30 people.  My mother-in-law had asked me to make the turkey for dinner but after hearing of my condition (not really being able to walk) she switched duties with me and put me in charge of making some appetizers.  Going back to my time in Memphis, I decided that a smoked meat and cheese plate would be a hit along with a olive and pickle plate (about the easiest thing in the world to make).  
Everyone came over and we ate all the food we could and talked and had a good time.  One of my wife's cousins has a little girl who's about 3 and she and I hung out quite a bit and had some interesting conversations.  She also ran around the house while I tried to keep up (while looking like Lurch).  I hadn't taken any Tylenol or anything the day before and I think that contributed to me feeling so awful, although I still wasn't feeling great by any means.  It was still really great to see everyone, and everyone was excited to see and hold my child.  She was grinning ear to ear as she was passed around between all the relatives.  Since it didn't get cold in the South over Christmas, she ended up out of her Christmas dress and just crawling around in her green drawers.  It was super cute.
So the next day I woke up really late in the day.  There was a bunch of stuff that I really wanted to do at the last minute (buying little stocking stuffers) but now my leg was back to being really painful.  My wife is a doctor (although she specializes in something much different) so I called her in to look at my leg.  It was pretty red at this point.  She and I were pretty sure that I had developed cellulitis.  One of my best friends is an ER doctor in the area and I called her and asked her opinion as well.  She said that I should go in to the ER and that she'd call ahead and get a room set up for me.  So, on Christmas Eve, we headed to the ER.  It wasn't the first holiday where someone in my family has been to the ER, but hopefully it's the last one.
So I get to the ER and get checked out by the doctor.  We get my doc in Charleston on the line because she's on call and she explains to the ER Doctor what procedure I had done.  The ER Doctor looks at my leg and says "well it's either cellulitis or a blood clot" and orders some blood work and some imaging of my leg.  About 45 minutes later the tech comes and does the imaging on my leg.  The results come back.  It's a new clot.  
This clot is bigger, deeper, and more deadly than my last clot.  So, yeah, Merry Christmas to me.  Still, it could be worse, I could have to stay in the hospital and miss my daughters first Christmas, but they give me a prescription for blood thinners and put me on pain medication (non opiate thankfully.  That stuff makes everything worse I feel like).   I take the pain medication and feel better pretty soon thereafter.  
So we return home and my wife being the Saint that she is runs out on Christmas Eve to the local Walgreens and get my prescriptions filled.  The stockings get stuffed and the presents wrapped and we all go to bed so Santa can come.  My wife and kid are sleeping in her childhood room, while I'm in her parents office on the pull out couch.  Her childhood bed isn't made for two people, especially when one of those people is 6'6 and weighs 225lbs.  Christmas Eve is hot.  And stormy.  It is thundering and lightning out.  I open a window because I'm burning up.  The combination of the storm and the medication gives me crazy dreams and I toss and turn all night.  In the morning, I get up and I'm excited.  I didn't sleep well, I was in the ER the day before, I didn't get to eat my steak, but none of that matters.  It's Christmas with my daughter.  It's her very first Christmas.  And Santa has brought her all sorts of gifts because there has been no one better.
My daughter ended up getting all sorts of stuff at my in-laws house.  It was a good thing that we had brought two vehicles and both had to get packed up by noon.  Now the wife and I were going to do something we've never done as a couple together on Christmas, go to my parents house.  
My parents recently moved (back) to Charlotte after moving away in 1999.  It is nice because my in-laws are only about 4 hours away so we were able to go to my parents for dinner on Christmas.  I got to my parents house first.  Two of my sisters, their husbands, and one of my nephews were already there (along with everyone's puppies).  My wife and daughter arrived soon afterwards and we all sat down to a great meal that my mother had cooked.  After dinner, in a break from tradition in our house, we opened the presents here.  Virginia got even more gifts and it was a lot of fun to watch her and my nephew get really excited about their new toys and books.  Santa brought even more stocking stuff which was really nice, and my father gave me a gift which I plan on using a bunch over the next few weeks, my grandfathers cane.
So despite the large amount of pain I'm in, the fact that I have to meet with my vascular doc again in Charleston, I have to say, this was the greatest Christmas I've ever had.  I hope you, good reader, had a really nice one as well. I'll see you in 2016.