Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa Rampage V

The Fifth Annual Santa Rampage, or Santa Rampage V, was held in downtown Champaign last weekend. For those of you not in-the-know, this is a bar crawl started by our friend Jeremy in 2007. Here he is, King Rampage himself, with Clint's daughter Jennifer:

Let's hear a nice round of applause for our leader!

You can't quite get a feel for Jennifer's clever-clever costume in that picture, so here's another, taken with husband Bill. I think they took home the best costumes of the year for the 2nd year in a row. The prize is braggin' rights, and that is it.

This is year #3 for Zymkie & Associates. Once you show up for a Rampage, you are hooked for life!

Here's me and Clint. I'm wearing the costume I bought last year but didn't get finished. See, that dress is a mini-dress, and I'm a maxi-girl. I added a good 12-inches to the skirt and stitched on all that fringe and fur. Before you go a'getting yourself all impressed at my seamstress skills, I'll reveal that the inside of that dress is a big giant mess. The fringe was the saving factor in the entire deal: it covered up all of my crappy hand sewing and bunchy seams.

Enough about me. Let's talk about my family. We actually recruited cousins this year! This is my cousin Rudolph. I mean, Mikedolph. I mean, Mike:

Mike is a reindeer. If you weren't sure about this, just check out his hiney for the proof:

Now stop checking out his hiney before his wife kicks mine. Here she is with my cousin Tammy and my brother-in-law Tim, at Memphis on Main:

The party always gets kicked up a notch at Memphis because there's live music. Cover charge is waived for Santas each year, which, let me tell you, keeps us loyal. Candy Foster and Shades of Blue was playing and you can see it wasn't too difficult to coerce us out onto the dance floor.

As it has been every year, the evening was too, too much fun. You just can't beat lots of beer and 70 Santas for a great Saturday night, y'know?

We cabbed it home at the end of the night:

Those in our household managed to stay up to scarf down some pizza rolls before finally retiring at 4 in the a.m. Yes, I said 4, that is 1/6th of tomorrow already!

We crawled out of bed and went back downtown at the crack of noon for the best breakfast in town, whether you're hungover or not: Sam's Cafe. They're famous for their french toast, but Jennifer and I decided to live it up. You know what's good for a hangover? So much food it takes two plates to serve it.

There are about 70 more pictures of all the fun here: HERE, CLICK HERE!

It could only have been better if my kid were in attendance again this year (and you, of course). I haven't seen him Christmas eve last year, and I miss him like crazy.

I miss him so much, in fact, that I think I'll go see him this weekend. I may catch you from the road, but if I don't, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Packages to Soldiers 2012: Wrap Up

I'm a little late with this post, but it's mostly due to spending the last week or so wrapping up loose ends to what turned out to be a FANTASTIC wrapping and packing event for our soldier babies.

As there is no RSVP for these events, I'm always anxious about what the turnout will be; it's simply unknown...until we know! Slated to start at 1:00, we had 6 or 7 people in attendance at 5 'til. Same at 1:00, and at 1:05. I had a quick, sick feeling when suddenly:

That's kind of how it was.

There was sorting and wrapping:

Stuffing of stockings:

And packing of boxes:

The boxes were tidied and filled with tinsel, then topped off with precious letters from children in Homer and Mahomet, IL, and from Enterprise, Florida (see, I TOLD you that you can help from anywhere!).

One of my favorite vets, Dave Martin, stopped by with a hefty check from the Thank You Veteran's Run. Dave represents at all of our events!

And our last stop, the next day: The post office. Here's a very frazzled Donna, our postal clerk extraordinaire. Even though we called ahead and emailed ahead, and Facebooked ahead, someone at the post office got transferred to another station at the last minute, and they were a little short-staffed.

Most people were understanding, or at least soothed with the homemade cookies we brought to appease them, but there were a few that crabbed at the two poor remaining clerks as if it were their fault.

Oh, and there was one near cat-fight when one lady told another lady to shut her yap, and that if it took FIVE HOURS to process the boxes going to our troops, then they should all damn-well stand in line for 5 hours and be happy about it!! Ooo! That was exciting!

But it was mostly lovely. People did, as they always do when we are taking this many boxes to the post office, hand me cash. It touches me every single time, strangers handing me cash, asking if they can pay for a box, or if they can help.

My favorite part of the post office trip is visiting with Veterans. Older gentlemen leaning on canes as they wait, laughing and reminiscing with us and with each other about care packages they received from their mothers. It is almost always their mothers I hear about, and I think about how young they were when they were in Korea, or Vietnam.

They laugh about the delicious boxes of cookie crumbs they devoured, and how much the letters meant to them then. Their boxes and letters clearly mean as much to them now as they did then, and their reminiscing reinforces everything we do: You know the efforts of this community and these events are still going to be remembered somewhere in this world in the year 2062.

To all of you that continued to work for our troops, to schlep out in holiday crowds and shop for them, to bake homemade cookies and write them letters, and to donate your hard-earned cash to make sure that everyone on our list had a really great Christmas box: 

Thank you.

From every fiber of my being, Thank you.