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Christmas was awhile ago. Back then, I started writing down some of the things that happened. The essence of it was the unexpectedness of holidays with my family. I stumbled across it tonight and guess I forgot to post it:

This year I eagerly reached into my stocking to find:

*two bars of soap


*q-tips (I don’t know how, but it appears Mrs. Cap is not aware of my severe aversion to raw cotton).

Where’s my candy cane? Where’s my chocolate. I mentally catalogue the innards of my stocking. Hmm, I’m sensing a theme, here. I sniff myself. Seems good, but sometimes you can’t tell. I shrug and decide to move on to the prettily wrapped gifts under the tree. I know the contents of many of the packages because, well, my mother took me to Target to let me pick them out myself. Still, there is a surprising pile of presents under the tree this year, and many mysterious goodies have my name on them. I shake off the very clean gifts I’ve already received; maybe Mom had a theme with the stockings. I eagerly unwrap the double-wrapped boxes (I was one sneaky gift discoverer back in the day). Shampoo, razors, a toothbrush, and Crest white-strips… hygienically speaking, it seems I cleaned up (ba-dum pshh!). To be fair, I did receive some very nice gifts. And I like shampoo and conditioner possibly more than the ordinary person. But I couldn’t help but be a little puzzled. I shower, I floss! It’s Christmas. Where’s my pony? Where are my pretty sparkly things? I comfort myself with the knowledge that with two white strips a day for 10 days, my floss, toothpaste, and toothbrush, it seems my teeth will be my sparkly things.

All in all, my holiday at home passed quite peaceably and I enjoyed the time with my family very much. The day after Christmas it was decided that the family should go out to eat somewhere special since I am rarely home and had to return to Birmingham the following day. My father settled on Atlantic Station as the perfect place to take his family to enjoy something nice to eat, and I eagerly anticipated eating at any one of the many restaurants there. However, after making the hair-raising foray downtown, we ultimately missed our exit because my sister and mother were loudly pointing out the Cirque de Soleil tent across the highway. Despite my overwhelming disappointment and hunger, I decided to keep quiet and wait patiently. It’s Atlanta. There’s somewhere good to eat on every corner.

An HOUR later, we are still navigating the streets of Atlanta. My patience long gone, I am glaring out the window with my arms crossed over my grumbling stomach. Either the restaurants are too busy, on the wrong side of the road, or we can’t agree to eat there. Garrison Keillor’s radio show plays in the background and my parents discuss how to make mashed potatoes or some such thing. We end up driving by Atlanta’s classier parts of town (Phipps Plaza) as well as the seedier regions (Tattle Tale Lounge) before settling on a steakhouse a mere 15 minutes away from our house. It only took us two hours to get there.

Once seated, we were fortunate to have a very attentive waiter. Super attentive. Adjust-your-silverware-and-perform-origami-on-your-napkin-when-you-walk-away attentive. As long as you give me my food– fold my napkin, fix my silverware, lick my plate, I don’t care. My sister, however, wasn’t able to overlook the extra attention so easily. We eat out at nice restaurants quite frequently, but I guess we hit one notch above what we usually enjoy. I actually don’t feel like this is the case, but it is the only way I can reason away the following events that ensued:

As my mother walked away from the table for a moment, our waiter approached her chair to refold her napkin. My sister, thrown and amused by this, pointedly straightened her silverware before he could reach them, then reached for her own napkin and began to engage in a frantic napkin origami face-off. Friends, this is an example of our family’s flawless, superior sense of humor. You’d have to be a part of our family to pick up on it, so YOU dear friend are out of the loop. But if you were in the know, you’d know this is completely and unquestionably supposed to be funny. Unfortunately, our waiter is not a part of our family either, so we simply look like we’re mocking him. Our patient waiter merely finished folding my mother’s napkin and walked away with barely a roll of the eye just as my mother returned. My sister, having successfully refolded her napkin, sighed contentedly and leaned back as my father laughed and I slowly placed one hand to my forehead in mortification.

“What’s wrong?” My mother asks.

“Liza is making fun of our waiter.”

“I am not!” Liza says indignantly, “He keeps coming by to refold our napkins.”

“That’s what he is supposed to do,” I snap. Have I mentioned I’m hungry?

My mother decides to break the exchange with a little life lesson. She leans in so as to completely absorb our attention before stage whispering, “This is one of those nice restaurants. He had to go to WAITER school to learn how to do all that stuff.”

At some point in “waiter school” our particular server must have learned how to unobtrusively approach a table engaged in conversation. Just as the words leave her mouth, as if by magic, my mother’s food appears in front of her. Our waiter-school educated server is inches from my mother. From the look in his eyes, I’d say he heard my mother’s informative lesson on just how servers acquire the great skill of folding napkins. Maybe one of his classes gave him a crash course on overlooking awkward situations, but my school never really covered it. I bury my face in my hands to hide the burn racing across my cheeks and to choke back the uncomfortable laughter.

“Josie, stop it,” Mom says, “Quit! You’re so obvious. You’re embarrasing us.”