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It all started on Christmas Eve, right about the time that I was congratulating myself for not stressing out over anything, for putting the joy of the season ahead of the tasks.  I really enjoyed Advent this year.  I even took a picture of the last lighting of the Advent wreath and bid the season a fond farewell on the afternoon of the 24th, just moments before FedEx called me.

I almost didn’t answer the phone because I didn’t recognize the number.  Except that it was a 504-area code, meaning the New Orleans area and possibly the other half of my brain (aka Stacey) simply calling from a number I didn’t have on file.  So I answered with a cheerful, “Hellooooooo!”

That’s when I quasi-met a FedEx rep who was in communication with a driver in my area.  Jackpot!!  The last gift to arrive was finally en route to my door!  It was a gift for Aaron – some fancy Lord of the Rings posters that will look awesome in his room.  (You can’t beat a map of Middle Earth.  You just can’t.)   The voice on the other end of the phone proceeded to tell me that the driver had information that I had moved.

Uhhh, like a year ago, dude.  Let it go already.

I politely asked what address they had on file, half-impressed that they would even know my address from over a year ago.  But he pulled a mind scrambler on me when he rattled off my current address.  “No, we haven’t moved,” I assured him.  “In fact, I’m standing in the kitchen of that address right now.  Tell the driver to come on out!”  And with that we wished each other a merry Christmas and hung up.

Four days later, I have replayed that conversation a million times in my head.  I wish I had asked all the logical questions, like: Can the driver find us on a GPS?  Can he find my neighbors’ (in-laws’) address instead? Why exactly does he think we moved? How can FedEx not find me when UPS has been here every day for the past two weeks?  If he doesn’t make it to my house, where can I go to retrieve my package?  Oh, hindsight, curse you and your practicality.

I was not surprised when FedEx did not show before we left for Mass.  I was disappointed when they had not come by the time we returned.  I decided to tell Aaron all about the posters and how cool they were going to be when we received them on the day after Christmas, and how we would hang them up together and make his room look awesome.  He jumped up and hugged me with a huge smile.  Totally worth it.

Fast forward five hours.  We returned from the in-laws’ where we had our Christmas Eve celebration and I proceeded to pull out the last of the kids’ gifts to put under the tree.  They’re cool with me being Santa and all, but I still like Christmas morning to hold some surprises.  So my plan was to put the two largest gifts unwrapped and under the tree after they went to bed.  Vic was getting a zebra-striped gym bag and Aaron was getting a carrying case for his electric guitar.  I reached into the upper cabinet of the utility room where I had stashed the gym bag and looked for the guitar case.  No case.  No problem.  It must be in another cabinet.

Thirty cabinets, six rooms and two hours later I was still looking for the damn guitar case, and getting quite frantic in the process.  How could I lose something that is almost as tall as I am?  I had my hands on it earlier in the day when I pulled guitar picks out of the bag to decorate another package with.  What.  The.  Hell????

I looked in every possible hiding place three times, a fact that later made my father question my sanity. “If it wasn’t there the first time, what made you think….??”  Because when you realize that of five gifts, three of your son’s are ABSENT from Christmas morning, you panic and do irrational things.  Like cry in the hallway at 1am and accidentally wake up your daughter, who gets up to make sure you’re okay and then stays awake another half hour retracing your own steps in an effort to help.  Oh, sweet child.

Needless to say, Christmas morning came and went without those three gifts.  Aaron graciously opened up his other two gifts while I served myself a steaming cup of shame-on-me and profusely apologized for losing his biggest present.  While I focused on the mishap internally, it seems no one else did, for we continued our Christmas morning with the spirit in which it was meant to be celebrated.  And I went back to the guitar shop and bought another case on Friday, with the express understanding that if I find the lost one anytime soon I can easily return it.  That’s right, people.  I have rolled up my Christmas sweater sleeves and taken measures to right the wrongs.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go throw down with FedEx.  I think I’ll offer an exchange…they give me my map of Middle Earth, and I’ll give them a map of Shreveport!!