Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hulk Smash...Your Presents!

I hope everyone had a great holiday. I certainly did. At the last minute (and due to the possibility that I may get called in to work through the weekend) Suzanne and I decided to go in different directions for Christmas and visit our respective families solo. It's the first time we've been apart at Christmas since we've been married and I won't pretend it wasn't difficult. But it felt right that I should see my parents this year. Mike always came up to their house for Christmas each year while I was in North Carolina with Suzanne's family as the Wieringos always got together for Thanksgiving. It was a great arrangement while it lasted but...

My folks have spent the last two Christmases alone and, while they tried to behave as if it wasn't hard on them, Suzanne and I thought they might just be putting on a brave face. So since my job was throwing a monkey wrench into our usual plans anyway, it worked out that I got to hang out at the original 'Ringo Ranch this year. The surprise snowstorm threatened to derail my trip (They live in the un-plowed wilderness of rural Virginia.) but I made it in alright. And it was great. Mom tried to kill me with food and so my vow to make it out of the holidays weighing less than I did going in didn't quite hold up. If I see another slice of chocolate pecan pie before June, I'm going to throw up. Dad and I played two marathon sessions of Cribbage (a tradition) and I finally got the better of him, "skunking" him twice.

For me, this is what Christmas is all about. Not the shopping or the wrapping or the decorating. In retrospect, those things are never as bad as I fear they will be and I won't lie and say I don't like getting presents because who doesn't? But for me, it's all about getting to hang out with my family without pressure or worrying about rushing out the door to work the next day. And having snow on the ground for once was a real pleasure. We had such a great time.

I just wish Mike could have been there with us, obviously. We really missed him a lot this year. We're at the point where the surreal aspect of him being gone has faded and the naked fact of his absence is sinking in. I think this was the first year where I didn't see something and think, "Oh! I should get that for Mike!" More like, "Damn. Mike would have liked that."

Suzanne and I got to have "our" Christmas when we got back (within an hour of each other.) Suzanne was overly generous, as always. I hope I did right by her. She's been extremely busy this year and circumstances were constantly conspiring to keep her from shopping or decorating. She loves Christmas like nobody I've ever met and the fact that she wasn't able to enjoy it as much this year was frustrating for both of us. Each year, I hope next year will be better. I guess we'll see. Crossing fingers now.

I started this drawing before the holiday but could never spend more than two minutes at a time on it and never got around to finishing it. The holidays are usually fairly busy where I work but this year felt especially brutal, particularly in my department. The entire agency had cleared out Wednesday but those of us still at work were going full steam ahead until well into the evening. When I came back to work yesterday, I saw it on my desk and thought, "Well, that was a waste of time. It's after Christmas." But I liked where it was going and I had some quiet time around lunch and went ahead and inked it. So I hope you like it and Merry (belated) Christmas.

See you next year!

P.S. (Oh, and I won't go into it for fear of embarrassing him, but I owe Brian Mulcahy a GREAT BIG PUBLIC THANK YOU this Christmas. Thank you Brian! That was surprising and completely unexpected. And very much appreciated. )


Brian said...

Thanks, Matt, glad you liked it.

And thanks for the Hulk, I really like your take on him, especially the facial expression.

I hope you guys have a very happy new year.

todd said...

i don't know what brian did, but knowing brian, i'm sure it was something very nice! (this is the time to ask him, brian...)

as for christmas, brother, i was so happy that you were with your folks and so glad to get to talk to you all--albeit briefly--on christmas day.
love that hulk and it made me think that you would do a great job on this super hero squad story i just finished--the hulk has a bad dream...

happy new year!