Here are some indicators of how I know that Christmas is here and that I am home:
1. I’m in Marietta at a favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner on the eve of Christmas Eve with my mom, her boyfriend, my sister and my three-year-old nephew. The busboy is wearing a Santa hat and the restaurant is out of “Diet.” Coke? Pepsi? It’s unclear. Just no “Diet.”
My sister is trying to get my nephew to talk to us rather than chant nonsense at the top of his lungs and try to pinch Grammie.
My sister: “Mason, what was under Pa Jim’s (our father) tree?”
My nephew: Hard to understand, I’m now going to be shy mumbled response.
Me: “Did he say ‘poop’?”
My sister gives me the sideways, raised eyebrow, wait-for-it look.
My sister: “Mason, tell Aunt Kristi what was under Pa Jim’s tree.”
My nephew: “Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop! Cat poop!”
2. No one believes me that “irregardless” is not an acceptable word.
Repeating “irregardless” while we’re standing in a freezing parking lot after dinner does not make it more acceptable. I only have a few English teacher super powers; this is one of them. (The other super power is torturing students who ask if they “can” use the bathroom. Your guess is as good as mine, kid.) Merriam Webster and spell check both say to use “regardless.” I looked it up because I thought maybe I was the crazy one.
3. Kmart smells like cigarettes.
We had one after dinner mission: purchase tape and wrapping paper then get the Hell out!! Grammie immediately diverted from the mission down a side aisle to “look at picture frames.” In Kmart, Christmas is to the right so my sister and I chose to accept the established mission and headed that direction.
At first, I thought I was getting clouds of cigarette stink off of the initial people we passed. But once we were in a customer free zone, the stink persisted.
Kmart smells like cigarettes. It smells like a wet dog that smokes too much and brews tea from water filtered through old ashtrays.
My theory is that all of the people in the building were smokers so the stink emanating off their bodies was filling the store and would go unnoticed by everyone but non-smokers who happened to stumble in.
*****I know you really want to know more about the cat poop. Why was it there? What will happen to it? Were there presents involved? Will it be cleaned up by Christmas Day? Your guess is as good as mine, kid.