Here’s my poor car with 320 miles of Wisconsin highway salt crust thanks to multiple family Christmas things around the state. I need to wash it, but it won’t stay clean long because my street is a tertiary road and only gets plowed after several inches of snow. Anything less and the city only dumps sand. Bastards.

I’m Jewish and my wife’s Catholic family has weird Christmas traditions. They go to church in my mother-in-law’s town on Christmas Eve and then have a Christmas Eve “dinner” of assorted finger foods that have to be the same finger foods every year including such delicacies as cocktail wienies and bbq meatballs. Then my mother-in-law insists on having some kind of turkey or roast beef for sandwiches that only one or two people eat because everyone else has gorged themselves on finger foods. Don’t ask me why the hell this is the tradition, but it’s the tradition!

The best part of the mercifully-short Christmas Eve mass is the little show they have the elementary school kids put on each year, because there’s a line where one of the little kids has to say, “even though Mary had not had relations with a man, she was with child!” I always laugh because I picture some little kid asking their churchy parents what having relations means.

This year since my wife and I are mostly vegan now, we brought tofu cocktail not-wienies and stuffed mushrooms. There wasn’t much else besides that for us to eat, so we made up for it by drinking, since we were spending the night at my mother-in-law’s house, so might as well.

Also in the “might as well” category: I passive-aggressively needled my control freak sister-in-law who along with my mother-in-law likes to dictate very specific processes, timing and procedures for exchanging of gifts, whether they’re Secret Santa, white elephant, or whathaveyou. She’s one of those people who need to be occasionally taken down a peg because they act like a pain in the ass all the time and expect everyone else to accommodate them. Yes, she’s the one who decreed several years ago that Secret Santa will instead be everyone fills out a 3-item wish list which their Secret Santa then buys for them along with some other little flourish, as if that makes some kind of sense. She annoys the shit out of my wife with this crap so I enjoy annoying her.

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A more recent Christmas tradition is that my brother-in-law and his wife have everyone over for Christmas dinner except it’s not Christmas dinner because his wife can’t cook and she’s still spent from trying and failing to successfully cook Thanksgiving so she makes mediocre pasta.

Except this year the thing at my brother-in-law’s was on Friday night because they’re going to Punta Cana on the 26th or 27th or something. So on Friday we drove from Madison to New Berlin (a Milwaukee suburb) and back for not-Christmas pasta dinner.

Then on Sunday we drove from Madison to Burlington for Christmas Eve, and back to Madison on Monday.

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On the plus side, I briefly topped 28 average mpg! This was after driving from Madison to the Milwaukee suburbs on Friday night, with the trip computer reset after filling up a fresh tank of gas.

The average dipped down to 26.4 mpg by the end of the tank, but I had to take a picture of this gloriously high mpg rating for my 400+ hp car that usually is stuck down around 18 mpg thanks to my basically no highway driving most of the time.

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On Monday, my wife and I picked up a volunteer shift at the farm sanctuary where we did lovely things including cleaning up donkey shit, get my leg bit by a miniature horse with an underbite (it was more of an aggressive nibble), and cover sleeping pigs with blankets. Oh, and the temp had dropped to 8 when we headed over there, and was 1 by the time we left.

I dressed in 2 pairs of gym leggings, sweat pants, 3 pairs of socks, a t-shirt, an Under Armour pullover, a thermal long-sleeve shirt, a hoodie, a windproof shell, ski gloves, a scarf, 2 hats, and boots.

At least my wife got to spend some time talking to a turkey.

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There was a minor incident where some of the other volunteers lost control of a couple llamas who then decided to run around the barn but I was busy pushing a wheelbarrow full of donkey, sheep and miniature horse shit so I wasn’t able to assist in the llama wrangling, and instead tried to make sure they didn’t knock over the wheelbarrow of assorted animal poop.

We finally got out of the farm sanctuary around 7:15 on Christmas, and I promptly picked up Chinese food, as is customary for us Jews to celebrate Christmas.

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The Chinese food was vegan, of course.