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5:58 a.m. - 2003-12-27

CELEBRATE THE BABY JESUS' BIRTHDAY WITH A FREE BUD LIGHT

Yeah. So hey. How are ya?

Did you have a good Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Horribly Depressing Drunken Holiday By Yourself Where You Start Thinking Of Ex Lovers And How You Should Call Them So You Have Another Drink And Then You Figure "What The Hell?" And Call Them But As Soon As You Do, You Realize That You've Really Freaked Them Out Because You're Hardly Able To Speak Without Slurring And You Hear Happy Children And Merriment In The Background So You Hang Up Really Quick But Then They Call Back (Damned Caller ID!) And They Realize Quickly That You're Drunk And Depressed And They Try To Make Awkward Small Talk With You While You Try Not To Cry And Then You Hang Up, Knowing That Was Probably The Last Time You Ever Hear Their Voice So You Go Online And Enter A Chat Room And End Up Cybersexing Some Other Lonely Person From Nebraska Until Both Of You Are Bored And You Realize That You'll Never Figure Out How To Give A Good Cyber Blow Job And That Makes You Even More Depressed Than You Were When You Woke Up That Morning?

Yeah. I had a good Christmas.

The family's all gone now, which is good in a way because they're all out of money.

Y'see ... my parents have what I would like to call ... extremely severe gambling problems.

They live in South Carolina and fly to Vegas every other month with thousands of dollars.

Sometimes they double their money.

Most times they come home broke.

So we're sitting around here on Christmas morning and I mention that our city finally has a casino. It's not a Vegas style casino, but they have over 300 slot machines.

My parents' eyes lit up.

"Oh that would be such fun," Mom says like a robot since she's programmed to compliment gambling in any of its incarnations. "It's a shame it's Christmas Day."

"Well," I said. "My buddy's the manager of the place and he said they're open today. They're open 24-7 every day of the year."

Mom grabbed her purse, thanked us for the coffee maker and the subscription to the BBQ Sauce Of The Month while Dad had already flew to the driveway, revving up their engine.

10 a.m. on Christmas morning, my parents are doing 80 to get to the casino.

Susie, Andrew and my sis all hang out around the house for a while playing with Andrew and his new toys.

1 p.m. my parents come back.

They said it was nice and fun and had a good time. I asked if they won anything and Dad had come back $200 richer.

4 p.m.

Three hours later.

"Does anyone want to go to the casino?" my mom says in a shaky voice like a heroin addict asking "Would anyone like a clean needle with their turkey" at a Christmas dinner.

"You just got back three hours ago," I scolded her.

"I have to win my money back!" she insists.

Uhhhhhh...yeah.

So we decide to mix National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation with National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation and head to the casino with Mom and Dad.

My sister stayed home with Andrew. Please don't think I'm such a shitty parent that I'd take my kid to a casino on Christmas night.

We get there and I introduce my parents to my buddy, the casino manager. They're impressed that I actually know a casino manager. My buddy asks them what they'd like to drink and that while they're there, the drinks are on him.

You'd have thought they'd died and gone to Heaven. Gambling on Christmas with free Bud Light.

Each year my family gives us cash for Christmas and it's always a good amount of money. My parents have money. I don't.

My Mom asks me as we sit down to some slots if I brought all my Christmas cash.

Yeah.

Like I'm going to blow my Christmas cash on slot machines.

I informed her that all I had brought was the money in my wallet ... $24.

I hadn't planned on staying all night.

I quickly lost $20. Within ten minutes, $20 was gone.

I was down to $4 and gave it to Susie, who had only brought $6.

Susie sat down at some machine and instantly won $60.

We rejoiced and I said "Let's go now that we've tripled our money!"

But Susie had other plans.

She then won $150 on another machine.

We had now won $210.

"That's a new television for the guest bedroom," I reminded her.

"I'm hot," she said. "I'm on a roll. Let's win more."

Yeah.

For the next few hours, she proceeded to lose almost every penny she had won.

We ended up coming home with $41. I got my $20 back and she kept the other $21.

My parents spent all their cash. The $200 Dad had won earlier and hundreds of dollars that Mom had brought to town.

We left them at the Casino and went home to take care of Andrew.

Yesterday morning I asked them how late they had stayed and I got two different answers. Mom said they left about 9 while Dad said it was closer to 1 a.m.

I'm SO GLAD I'm not a gambler.

Because it apparently renders you unable to tell time.


We had a good time with the family though.

Gawd ... did we EAT!

Dad's new hobby (when he's not gambling my inheritance away) is cooking.

He smoked some chickens, Boston butts, and ribs and brought those.

He made Almond Joys and cookies.

He brought kettle cooked potato chips from Pennsylvania that he had special ordered.

He brought five bottles of BBQ sauce, four boxes of crackers, three large gallon bags of Chex Mix, two bags of peanut M&Ms and a Summer Sausage big enough to kill a moose with.

All this on top of the crock pot full of chili and our traditional Christmas fajitas that I make each year because nobody likes turkey and ham.

Usually you hear of people saying "I ate so much during the holidays" but I never eat more than usual.

But this time, holy cow ... I ate.

I was MISERABLE Christmas Eve. We had a sample of everything except the fajitas and I thought I was going to die.

Then we had to put Andrew down, wait for him to fall asleep and I had to blow up an inflatable trampoline.

Susie had dialed "91" on the phone and had her finger poised over the last "1" the entire time I blew that bastard up, thinking I was about to have a stroke.

Christmas morning, Andrew jumped inside it for about 30 seconds and hasn't been back inside yet.

The things we do for kids.


Here's the photos from this year's Christmas morning.

Keep in mind, the kid was sick. He's had a nasty cough and cold all week and wasn't really all that excited about anything except his new Thomas trains.

Plus, I was working both the video cam and the regular camera simultaneously so these aren't the most exciting photos known to man.

Here he is, checking out which episodes are on his thrilling "Best of Thomas" DVD while the trampoline of death lies silently on the floor behind him.

He now has an official Handy Dandy Notebook so he can be just like Joe and scrawl out clues that a cartoon dog gives him to solve mysteries that a coma patient could solve.

The one time he showed any sort of happiness all morning. Naturally, it's because he has a new Thomas train in his hand.

"What do you mean there's other gifts? There ARE NO GIFTS better than Thomas!!"

Yeah. NOW we're getting excited.

"Thomas...Percy. Percy ... Thomas. James ... Edward. Edward ... James. Now that we all know each other ... LET'S ROLL!"

The sister who wasn't able to make it to the party sent this outfit for Andrew. I told Andrew to strike a GQ pose for me. You can tell by his eyes and the slippery insides of his nose that the cold medicine is kicking in.


That's it from here. Now the weekend starts.

Yip yip yippeeeeee!!!

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