Wyman Family Christmas
Growing up with divorced parents was always challenging around the holidays. That being said, my parents split up when I was a year old so the exchanges and modifications just felt normal. I spent every Christmas Eve with my father and Christmas Day with my mother until I was a teenager, working in restaurants and crashing where ever I landed on any given holiday.
My Dad’s grandmother, my great-grandmother, Lorraine hailed from Miami. She had two sons, my grandfather John, who was a company man for AT&T until he retired to teach at the University of Florida, Warrington College of Business. Fred was more than a decade younger than John. After graduating from dental school at the University of Maryland, Fred opened a dental practice in Chestertown, MD. Lorraine and my great-grandfather, Abel, moved to Chestertown to be closer to Fred and his growing family.
My dad couldn’t say ‘grandma’ when he was learning to talk, what came out was closer to ‘bam-ma.’ Bam-ma was shortened to Bam and that’s how we all knew Lorraine, except for the occasional ‘Bammer’ or ‘The Bammer,’ as Fred like to call her. Fred and his wife Nancy have three sons, John, Chris and Mike. Mike is older than me by exactly one month, Chris is one year older and John graduated from college before any of us were in high school.
Uncle Fred and Aunt Nancy hosted Christmas Eve at their house each year. We would feast on whatever Nancy cooked that could have graced the cover of Gourmet Magazine and often ended in pavlova, my cousin John’s favorite dessert. There were always dogs and cats underfoot. Uncle Fred was a softy when it came to a dog in need of a home. With three boys, at least as many dogs and a couple cats, the house was anything but quiet. Shouting was the only way to be heard. Most dinners ended in a fight among the kids and someone storming away from the table under a fire of expletives.
My dad had two siblings, my Aunt Jan who also joined the ranks at AT&T and my Uncle Jeff who worked for a spin-off company hoping to make it big. In the Christmas Eve heyday, everyone gathered at Uncle Fred’s house, Bam & Pop, my cousins, PopPop John and his wife, MomMom Jackie, my Aunt Jan and Uncle Jeff and my Dad and (step) Mom. It was chaos at its finest. Everyone tried to talk louder to have their stories heard. Dad and Aunt Jan told tales of Sam the Lamb, their pet who ate the sofa when they were kids. Uncle Jeff was outed for the 1000th time for filling footlockers with empty liquor bottles which were only discovered by my grandmother when he moved out of his room in the basement to head off to college.
Then, there were the gifts. At this point, Bam had quite a reputation in our family. She was notoriously thrifty. She washed ziploc bags and hung them on the chairs around the dinner table to dry out before she could use them again. She took a job at the Nearly New, a thrift store in town. When she handed you a wrapped present, everyone watched to see the spectacle. She was like the great aunt in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation who wrapped the jello mold and the cat. I witnessed used underwear, picture frames filled with strangers, and 20 year old bars of soap. I’ll never forget the pair of pickle tongs she gave my cousin Mike one year, to which he replied ‘but I don’t even like pickles…’
Bammer gifts sparked a special sort of holiday madness in the Wyman family. Everyone got in on the fun and re-gifting became our tradition. Sometimes, the re-gifts were never really gifts in the first place but rather, something the giver didn’t have to pay for. My uncle gave out toothpaste samples and toothbrushes, all nicely wrapped as if they were leather gloves. My dad once wrapped sleeves of red solo cups and airplane bottles of booze. Prior to working for the state park system in Virginia, Dad owned a liquor store in Chestertown for 25 years where solo cups and bottle openers were never in short supply.
Even though the family has suffered losses and spread out across the country as we’ve all aged and Bammer passed away years ago, we still unite over these memories. My dad likes to joke that Bam was a real trendsetter…she was thrifting, reusing and recycling long before it was mainstream cool.
I kept the tradition strong this year, gifting 5K Doughnut Run memorabilia to my mom, dad, brothers and cousins! I hear MBCo 5K mugs are all the rage in Maryland this year.
Weekly Training Log
Sunday: BIKE 5x1:00 high cadence/ 1:00 regular, 5:00 build to 90%, 25:00 @ 70%, 20:00 easy
I had friends over for cookie baking fun in the afternoon so naturally I ate cookies and drank beer and egg nog for dinner.
Monday: SWIM 200s, 4x50k, 2x100p; 4x50 descent, 200p, 4x50d, 300s, 4x50 steady
PT: Dr. C is determined to get me to jump onto a 20” box. Getting closer but not there yet.
Brad & I went out to Ani Ramen for Christmas Eve dinner.
Tuesday: RUN: (800, 800, 400) x 2 with 400 recovery after each interval. Getting closer and closer to normal paces.
Christmas Dinner with the Shrouts…prime rib, potatoes, carrots & green beans and See’s candies for dessert. Finally a home cooked meal that I got to sit and eat. Much appreciated.
Wednesday: SWIM 200s, 4x50k, 200p; 200s, 2x100, 4x50, 8x25, 400s
Brad made enchiladas with shredded chicken and tomatillo sauce…the first real food in our house in a week.
Thursday: OFF - Traveled to Maryland with the kids to visit my mom and dad for the holidays.
Pizza for lunch, fried chicken for dinner…it happens.
Friday: BIKE 10 Warm Up, 10@70%, 8@ 75%, 3 easy, 6@80%, 4@85%
Cheesesteaks from my all-time fav hometown joint for lunch. Out for sushi with the fam for dinner.
Saturday: RUN 60:00 I ran by the house where I grew up and along the side of the Chester River. It’s duck (or maybe goose) hunting season in Maryland and guns were firing all around me. What a way to get your heart rate up!