Mostly the best of times / by Susie Lubell

We spent our winter vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico with my brother-in-law's family. My husband's parents and sister also flew in from Israel so we were all together for the first time in a while. All in all a terrific trip. Here are the highlights and a few lowlights lest you think that my kids, imbued with the spirit of the holidays, were angelic. Not the case.

Highlights:
  1. An incident free flight out with our two kids. No one screamed about not wanting to wear a seat belt or peed in their pants or incessantly kicked the passenger in front of us.
  2. Traveling around Santa Fe, the eleven of us, in a giant Ford Sports Mobile. Yes, my brother-in-law has one of these and while we very much enjoy making fun of him for it, we very much enjoyed being together in this giant white monstrosity.
  3. Getting schooled by my son and nephew about who is Jewish and who is Christian and who celebrates Hanukah and who celebrates Christmas. Obviously we need not have worried about confusing the kids. They knew better than us.
  4. Pin the light on the menorah and other fun games and crafts prepared by Savta and doda (aunt) Dana.
  5. The line of the week delivered by my 2.5 year old niece: "I'm not tired mommy. Just lazy."
  6. The time-honored tradition of feeding the elders their vitamins. This is my son's favorite activity - helping my mother-in-law take her vitamins every morning by dropping them in the yogurt for her to fish out and swallow.
  7. Sledding. Nothing beats tri-generational sledding.
  8. Double date night at the Indian restaurant while Saba and Savta watched the four offspring.
  9. Pool time at the community center. My son actually dove under water to fetch a toy (in two feet of water) despite his near paralyzing fear.
  10. My father-in-law singing all 17 verses of Maoz Tsur (well maybe there are only like four verses - I'm not sure) every single night of Hanukah.
  11. A girls' snow trek up the arroyo with my two amazing sisters-in-law.
  12. Gazing at the new moon, Saturn, Jupiter and Mercury in the night sky, lined up near the horizon, as explained by my amateur astronomer father-in-law.


Lowlights:
  1. My son waking up every morning unwilling to talk to anyone. I feel shy this morning. What else is knew.
  2. Watching "The Duplex". I should qualify this by saying that it was obviously nice for all of the adults to sit around and watch a movie together but this was one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Horrible.
  3. Taking the family picture. It's twenty degrees outside and nearing dusk so my brother-in-law sets up the tripod and everyone stands there freezing waiting for my son and me to come out except that my son suddenly can think of no worse fate than to stand for a family photo and refuses to go outside. So I threaten to leave and he shrieks. Then I leave and he nearly has a seizure. Finally I go inside and forcibly put on his shirt and jacket and drag him outside wailing for the goddamn photo where everyone is smiling (albeit blue) except my kid who's beet red and sobbing.
  4. My son crying for five minutes (though it felt like twenty) on our descent into SFO because he wants to suddenly lie down in his "cave" - the floor beneath our seats where he generally sleeps during flights - but he cannot because the seatbelt sign in now alight. Tough shit.


And to all a good night.