It’s Monday, and if you’re like me, you’re dragging.
You had a great holiday weekend, stuffed to the gills with food and family, and now the regular routine resumes and it just seems a little dreary.
Never fear, it’s December now and more holidays are just around the proverbial corner (and hey! Hanukkah overlaps with that “other” big holiday this year, so everybody gets to open presents on Christmas! Hooray!)
Anyway, hopefully I can distract and amuse you today with tales of our holiday weekend vacation. The fam and I schlepped down to suburban Baltimore for five days to see my wife’s family, and some of my family, and a surprise visit as well.
Herewith, tales from the road…
— So the first thing you should know is that it was a fabulous five days in Maryland, Thanksgiving was terrific, my wife’s Aunt Marilyn is a terrific host, and the things I’m going to complain about in this post are minor in the grand scheme of things. But at the time…
— It took us 6.5 hours to drive from Long Island to Owings Mills, Md., on Tuesday, and nearly eight hours to drive back on Saturday. You ever notice how things take longer with little kids? Well, that was this. Highlights of the drives: My wife says she almost hit a deer with our car somewhere off I-95 (I had my head turned somewhere else at the time and am somewhat dubious), a 2-year-old truly CAN scream for 20 minutes straight, and a 5-year-old really can have to pee 11 times in an hour. Also, trying to explain the concept of a license plate to my kids was surprisingly difficult.
— Another highlight of the drive? My wife invented a game called “Name that Animal,” where one of me, her and our 5-year-old Nate had to give clues as to the identity of an animal, and the first person to name that animal got a point.
This was wildly entertaining and easily killed an hour on each leg of the trip, and I discovered Nate knows WAY more kinds of animals than I thought.
— Also something I learned on this trip: The smallest dinosaur was the size of a regular chicken. Nate repeated this fact to us 423 times over the course of the week; it was a fact he had just learned. And now I’ve taught you something today and our time together hasn’t been wasted.
— Traveling hell is the John Fenwick rest stop on the N.J. Turnpike on Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, when hundreds of people think “Hey, we’re hungry, let’s stop here,” and then find it’s tiny and the two fast-food restaurants are wildly understaffed and you spend the better part of an hour just trying to get crappy chicken nuggets and fries for you and your kids.
Though I will say, nothing bonds strangers in communal experience like bitching about how long this is taking while standing on line.
— Amazing surprise of the week was getting to see my best friend Clay, who I hadn’t seen in three years (he’d only met one of my kids!). His sister lives in Gaithersburg, Md., about an hour from where we were staying, and because I’m addled I didn’t remember he was going to be at her house like usual for Thanksgiving.
So we synced our schedules to enable a few hours Friday morning to see them. So damn nice. He lives in Alabama now and we never get to see each other so this was a wonderful surprise. I mean, we talk on the phone a lot but still… face to face contact is important.
–Finally, I’ll end on a sweet note: We now have six kids aged 6 and under at these family gatherings, and seeing them all together at the same time was pretty special. They played, they hugged, they ate.
Literally, the next generation is coming. And we’re being especially nice to them because one day, they’re going to be responsible for our end-of-life care.
**Next, those of you fellow Gen X’ers and those even older than that of course remember the famous movie “E.T.,” about an extra-terrestrial alien landing on Earth and spending some time with a family.
Well, the Xfinity company has brought E.T. and his good buddy Elliot back in a strange new commercial, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. It’s definitely… interesting. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. This is the extended version, four minutes long. Enjoy, I think.
**Finally today, my weekly Monday look at the National Football League, where week to week very little makes sense, except the Jets losing to the 0-11 Cincinnati Bengals, which if you’ve been a Jets fan as long as I have, makes perfect sense. Congrats, 2019 New York Jets, you’re the first team in NFL history to lose to two winless teams past Week 7! Go J-E-T-S!
Excuse me while I go vomit. In other NFL news…
–Seems like the game of the day was San Francisco-Baltimore, with two of the best teams in the league going at it. The Ravens won, 20-17, on a last-second Justin Tucker field goal, but it’s not like most of us saw it. Inexplicably, the NFL put a game between the two hottest teams in the league on at 1 p.m., against a bunch of other games, instead of moving it to 4:15 or prime time. Just bizarre.
Anyway, Ravens won, they look unstoppable, and having spent the last five days in the state of Maryland, I can confidently say the area has Lamar Jackson fever.
— The Houston Texans had lost two games in a row before Sunday night, including one of those games by a score of 41-7.
The Texans then pretty easily beat the team with the league’s best record, the Patriots, Sunday night. As usual, Houston is an impossible team to predict. But Deshaun Watson sure is fun to watch.
— Another thing to always remember about the NFL: It’s never fun to be a Chargers fan. They lost another game in excruciating fashion Sunday, as a last-second field goal after a dubious pass interference call against them gave Denver a win. The Chargers have lost eight games this season, all of them by seven points or fewer.
— The Giants and Packers played a snow game Sunday. Those are always super fun and offer great images (like the one above.)