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What “Christmas Shoes” Means to Me

shoes!

Guess which ones are mine and win an MCC No-Prize!

No, not the song. Egad, no. No no no no no.

Once again it’s the season for family making the visitation rounds for the sake and spirit of Christmas. Our largest family gathering every year is at my father-in-law’s place, where this year over three dozen relatives and plus-ones convened on Saturday morning, though just to brag for the record, Anne and I were among the three (3) people who could be bothered to arrived on time.

One of the major house rules is shoes come off at the front door, because older couples who think white carpet is a splendid decorating choice are finicky that way. By the time everyone arrived and got down to eating and mingling throughout the afternoon, the entryway was a cluttered war zone of castoff footwear. No heels, no Manolo Blahniks, nothing you’d wear to a shoeshine stand. Neither our families nor our gatherings see high rollers like that. Anyone who would object to such carefree shoe storage would be recognized right away as Not One of Us.

And yes, I see you number-crunchers out there scrunching your nose because you count two dozen pairs at most in the photo. Several more pairs were offscreen to my left. It’s also possible that a few of the toddlers were allowed to keep theirs on. I wouldn’t know. I wasn’t looking because no one assigned me to Christmas Shoe Police duty.

The shoe pile is emblematic of our gatherings themselves, whether it’s holidays, kids’ birthday parties, or the annual reunions where we’re joined by a few extra strangers of shared blood. Everyone who’s a citizen of our tiny microcosm nation agrees to throw in together and make one big mess. At the end we agree to retrieve the parts of the mess that were our fault, one by one, family unit by family unit, until order is restored and my in-laws have their foyer back.

It’s Christmas. It’s what we do. In our finer moments it’s how we can be as a family in other matters as well.

Merry Christmas to you ‘n’ yours from us here at Midlife Crisis Crossover. May your days be merry and bright, may your celebrations of our Savior be blessed and comforting, and here’s hoping the circles you belong to will set aside their reservations and come together in happy, sloppy, love-filled pileups of their own.

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“Lady Bird”: One Last Year in the Nest

Lady Bird!

A rare instance of a Catholic character who doesn’t try winning a film by dismantling the entire church brick by brick. Maybe in the sequel.

Lady Bird could be the name of either a super-hero or a happy animated pet, but in this case this lovely little film’s title has been like a chant among critics who’ve pegged it as a strong contender in the upcoming awards season. Considering how much I enjoyed lead actress Saoirse Ronan in the 2015 Best Picture nominee Brooklyn, I was looking forward to checking this out, and was surprised and delighted when it got a wide release in our area. I appreciated the opportunity to get a head start on my annual Oscars quest and to take a low-key break from this crowded blockbuster season. Contrary to how this year’s MCC reviews have been trending, I do like a broader spectrum of film beyond comics and explosions. Honest! I’ve moaned about it before, and I’ll keep moaning about it till our side of the city finally advances its aesthetics: I’d see more indie films in theaters if we had someplace that played them regularly within twenty miles of home.

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So There’s a Collage and a Message After the “Coco” End Credits

Coco!

Welcome to the Land of the Dead, where there’s never an affordable housing shortage!

A word of advice from someone who’s been there to other empathetic souls out there: do not go see Pixar’s new grade-A adventure fantasy Coco immediately after attending services for a dearly departed family member. Some unmanageable side effects may occur.

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Mamaw’s Temporary Setback

Mamaw!

Nine time out of ten, when Mamaw believes she’s smiling for a photo, this is the result. Technically it’s a good sign.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: each November my wife Anne and I take her grandmother to the Christmas Gift & Hobby Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Now on its 68th year, the Show provides a variety of vendors selling Christmas decor, Christmas gift ideas, loving handicrafts, licensed character products, off-topic home improvement services, telemarketing schemes, and more more more. For Mamaw the fairgrounds are a premier destination for her two biggest annual affairs. The Indiana Flower and Patio Show in March is her Super Bowl; the Christmas Gift and Hobby Show is her San Diego Comic Con. Longtime MCC readers were treated to photos of previous expeditions from 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

This year, we’ve run into a bit of a complication.

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A Day in the Waiting Rooms

Mom.

Last Friday we arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. when the waiting room doors were supposed to open. The nurses were running a bit behind, leaving us waiting on the waiting room. While I paced back and forth, Mom sat quietly and tried to compose herself before her big transplant operation.

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Not Put Asunder, 13 Years and Counting

Aquarium Us!

Ho ho ho, the flimsy Photoshop dolphins think it’s hilarious that we’re miming being trapped in a giant glass tank. THAT’S NOT MIME. WE ARE DROWNING. PLEASE SAVE US, YOU HEARTLESS FLOATING HOT DOGS WITH MUDFLAPS.

Above is a teaser image from our 2017 road trip, courtesy of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where my lovely wife Anne and I had the pleasure of spending a few days and not getting murdered despite what you hear on TV.

We’ve known each other for nearly thirty years next month. We’ve been married for thirteen years as of this very Monday. Vacation photos and jazz hands are just two of the many cornerstones of our relationship — not the most important ones, mind you, and certainly not the hardest ones to achieve. But when your never-ending process of maintaining and streamlining the critical factors is kept on track, it frees up your mental space to indulge in the happier shared whims. If the process yields fun tangible souvenirs like this one, so much the better and the merrier.

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