Jewish Christmas in Woodstock -WednesdayDecember252002

This morning was Christmas morning, and Gretchen did her best to give me a good Christmas, much as she did last year. She'd made me stocking containing candy, nuts, and booze (just like my mother traditionally did). She'd also bought me a present, a large mirrored disco ball. I'd said something awhile back about wanting to put a disco ball in the rec room.
Throughout the day I worked on painting the new bathroom. I put a second coat of that dingy yellow on the walls and then climbed inside the cubby to do some final sanding. What with the gypsum dust, the air was so unbreathable in there that I ran a plastic hose around the corner and inhaled through this, much like someone hiding under water and breathing through a reed. The bore on that plastic hose was about 3/8 inch, which wasn't quite enough to supply all the oxygen I needed. It did, however, allow me to work for several minutes at a time, far better than I could holding my breath or attempting to breath Michæl Jackson-style through a mask.
At around 4pm the snow was falling fast and furious and suddenly the power died. When the power goes out in these remote parts of New York, there's no struggle back and forth between life and death (as there is at my parents' place in Virginia). It just dies and stays dead for hours until someone goes and fixes it. Gretchen happened to be cooking one of Kristen's wedding cakes when the power died, and because of the way the gas oven works, it died as well. Fortunately, though, the cake she was cooking needed to stay in the oven only five more minutes, and it could continue to cook on residual heat alone.
Unable to do any more painting in the receding light, I sat down with my housebuilding book, a couple candles, and my flask of birthday brandy, and did my best to enjoy the little interlude of 19th Century.
At some point a couple little kids with snow shovels showed up and knocked on our door, hoping to get our business shoveling out our driveway. We pretended nobody was home and let the dogs handle the situation.
Originally we'd intended on going out for Chinese food and a movie in Woodstock (in keeping with the Jewish Christmas tradition), but the snow was coming down so hard it seemed like maybe we should just stay home. But then I realized that my truck can probably handle just about anything mother nature can dish up, including this blizzard, so I said, "Let's go anyway. You know the Chinese restaurant is going to be open. Not to further any ethnic stereotypes, but they live upstairs."
My pickup had no trouble getting out of the driveway despite ten or so inches of accumulated snow. Somewhere down Dug Hill Road I hit a patch of slick stuff in a bend and ended up on the shoulder, but I simply threw that baby in reverse and backed out of it.
Cruising slowly down the main drag in Woodstock, we looked and looked for the Chinese place, which we expected to be open. But all the stores of downtown appeared to be shuttered and dark. Woodstock wasn't following the protocols we'd grown to expect in Brooklyn.
Then I noticed some flashing lights behind me. Assuming it was a snowplow, I just kept piddling along, oblivious. But the lights were so close and so insistent that finally I pulled into a driveway to let it pass. At that point Gretchen noticed that what had been following me wasn't a snowplow, but the cops, the heat, the pigs, donut enthusiasts. Oh brother. I inhaled deeply a few times, knowing I probably still had Christmas brandy on my breath. I could definitely still feel it working its magic inside my body. Indeed, the brandy might have been the only thing keeping me calm. Boy, was I a calm and collected gentleman when those two Woodstock cops (a man and a woman) came to my door. They proceeded to tell me that I'd been weaving all over the road and "driving slowly." "We were looking for a Chinese restaurant," I explained. Gretchen chimed in that this was a Jewish tradition, and that the reason we were driving slowly was because there was a blizzard a'happening. The male cop assured us that nothing would be open in Woodstock, that this wasn't the big city.He then asked for my license and my registration and went off to run checks on them. Of course, nobody has anything on me and I came up clean. The male cop returned to my window and asked if I'd had anything to drink or to smoke and I insisted that of course I hadn't. The wind was blowing so hard that I knew there'd be no way for him to smell it on my breath. At this point he became somewhat defensive, saying that he was just doing his job, that there was a blizzard going on and we had been driving suspiciously. The best tact to take at this point in such situations is to be magnaminous, something cops always fail to see as the condescension it really is. The cop gave me my license back and I was free to go.
Heading back through downtown Woodstock, we saw some lights on in the Wok and Roll, a Japanese restaurant. So I pulled into the parking lot and Gretchen went in to investigate. It was open, so that was where we did our Jewish Christmas. I loved my food, which included one sushi roll, sake, and other fine Japanese delicacies. Gretchen doesn't eat sushi, not even the vegetarian kind, and her options were mostly limited to noodle dishes. She did order a tofu dish, but it turned out to be way too soft for her liking, and I had to eat it all. She didn't like the dumplings because they tasted too much like seaweed and she thought her noodles were far too slimy. You can see why we don't often go to Japanese restaurants together. Nonetheless, we were the only customers in the joint, so we left a fabulous tip.
We skipped the movie and went straight home, whereupon Gretchen immediately devoured a bowl of cereal.
The power was still out and the latent heat in the house was starting to dwindle away, so we fired up the woodstove. I'd bring in an armload of snow-covered logs and stick them on top of the stove to dry out while others burned beneath. After a few hours we had so much heat in the living room that Edna the cat was stretching out in the linear leisure posture she normally reserves for August.
On my suggestion, Gretchen got her guitar and bootleg songbook of folk songs and she played and sang for at least an hour. Gretchen doesn't do this very often because she tends to be self-conscious about performance, but she has a beautiful singing voice.

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