It’s certainly been a Christmas season to remember, and by that, I mean it’s one we’d like to forget as soon as possible.
Between the death of a parent, a grandparent, attempting to purchase a new home and balancing kids during Christmas, we’re quite ready to get on with the new year.
Monday morning, I dragged our tree to the curb. If it looks like a Grinchy move, so be it.
My wife and I are still processing the recent death of her mother, and we’re doing our best to keep our heads in a positive space because falling backward would be too easy.
It’s the first Christmas we’ve spent without all four parents being a part of the celebration.
As usual, the kids are the cause of and solution to most of our stress. Putting them first not only keeps them aware that Christmas is still happening, but also that we’re doing okay.
We have plenty of time to grieve but only one shot at Christmas.
Before bed, Beth said this period is an important opportunity as parents. Our kids are watching how we deal with grief, which they will process and possibly adopt as they grow older.
As usual, they’re onto us.
But Christmas morning, Santa gave us a much-needed sleep-in, as the kids arose just before 9 a.m. Presents were opened, food was consumed and pajamas stayed on for the duration of the day.
But my mom granted us an amazing gift this year. She invited the kids to Texas for five days. My wife and I haven’t been without kids for more than 24 hours in about a decade.
After dropping them off at the airport, newlywed feelings swept over me. We were free to do whatever we wanted.
And what did we want to do? Take down our Christmas decorations and get ready to move. And so we worked that afternoon, getting stuff put away or dragged to the trash.
But nothing says “no kids” like an impromptu trip to Atlanta. We figured Ikea would have some stuff we needed for the new house and then we’d catch a movie at Atlantic Station.
Full disclosure, I’ve been less than stellar with Atlanta movie dates with Beth. Our first two dates were to some pretty heavy movies; “Requiem for a Dream” and the “Royal Tenenbaums.”
She still married me. And she’s still a good sport.
So after making a few passes at Ikea, we made our way to Atlantic Station for the 7:20 p.m. showing of “Licorice Pizza.” The snack line is about 20 feet long, with transactions averaging around 5 minutes apiece.
With all the drama about cinemas closing, a long line at a movie theater is something I really never expected to see in my lifetime again.
After a half-hour in line, we made it to our seats, with only one other person in attendance.
I enjoyed the film, but I’ll watch anything that attempts to accurately capture the vibe of the early 1970s on the big screen, including the great music in full cinema sound.
Happily enjoying the fact there was no heavy subject matter to process, we made our way back to the parking lot. At this point, I’m calling it a draw for a date night.
Apparently, there was a curfew for teenagers at Atlantic Station that started at 6 p.m., but it seemed unenforced as we walked through a haze of dope smoke in the theater hallway.
While sitting at a red light at Market and 17th, we heard what we assumed were firecrackers. Upon seeing people running away, including a security guard, it was clear what was really happening.
Suddenly, I heard a gentle tap on my window, as if someone threw a very small pebble. It was time to go. We gunned the car across 17th Street, hellbent on getting to the interstate. We succeeded.
At home, we checked social media to discover a group of teenagers had been fighting. Eventually, gunplay was involved, and that’s when an off-duty Georgia State University officer got involved.
It’s not often you get to read about your date night on the news.
In short, I’m now 0 for 3 with Beth when it comes to seeing movies in Atlanta, but she isn’t one to gloat about it. Honestly, it was really a fitting conclusion to how things have gone this year.
So, I think we’ll spend New Year’s Eve at home, maybe ensconced in robes made of bubble wrap with the promise of a better 2022.
Wouldn’t that be a much-welcomed happy ending?
Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com