Happy holidays equal happy birthdays in this family

Categorized as 12/14/09 Goshen News column

They say women go to the bathroom in herds. Well, that’s exactly how the Schrocks have birthdays. It may look a lot like Christmas to the rest of you, but over here, it’s been Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy Birthday in one kablooie.

Christmas hit us early this year. That’s because Mr. Schrock’s out-of-state sibling brought his family up to celebrate the week after Thanksgiving. Starting on Sunday, we sat down to a feast that included turkey, ham, and every trimming known to mankind. This was topped off by the official Schrock dessert, originally known as Katherine Hoover pudding, which is a two-layer confection with frothy chocolate on top. Tides rise and fall, rulers come and go, but you don’t mess with the pudding. Period.

The next morning, the women headed for points east. In other words, we put on our running shoes and took off for Middlebury for a delightful breakfast and girl talk over some really good coffee.

Our men can’t fathom breakfasting together for two hours. Why, inside of 30 minutes, they can hammer out a 12-step plan for world peace, and they’re ready to move on to the next big issue, such as world hunger or catching bin Laden. The women? Well, it takes us a little longer because we have to discuss how we feel about it, and we get sidetracked by other things like who’s having a baby and who’s getting married. We get there eventually, though.

Next on the agenda was Sibling Night. With 15 grandkids, there’s no such thing as an uninterrupted adult conversation, which means that taking the whole caboodle to a restaurant has become increasingly difficult. It’s like a batch of hot worms down at the cousins’ end of the table with plenty of wriggling and writhing around.

Just as you’re getting into the conversation on your end, someone down there has to go potty or spills a drink or tries to climb out of the high chair. It gets quiet when the food arrives, but the peace is fleeting, and soon they’re back to shooting straw papers, dumping salt into each other’s drinks, and begging to leave. To avoid a full scale riot or an escalating food fight, you pick up your crowd and exit quickly.

You can see, then, that it’s out of sheer necessity that we adults have perfected that surefire trick for making a clean getaway. You know, the one where you point and shout, “What’s that over there,” and when they turn their little heads to look, you run like mad.

I’m here to testify that the trick still works. By hook or by crook, we all managed to sneak away and gather at a local café for a time of fun and laughter. Never mind that some of the nephews found us and circled the restaurant, honoring us with a few quick blasts from their “Air Horn in a Can,” which, unfortunately, we didn’t hear. (Sorry, guys. You know I love that thing.)

As if that weren’t enough excitement, we convened again mid week for a huge birthday party. There’s a good reason why the menu included a Texas sheet cake. Anything else would’ve been too small. All told, there were six names squeezed onto that thing, representing the November/December birthdays. Like I said, we “birthday” in herds.

The most significant one for us personally was our oldest son, Jordan, who turned the big 2-0 on December 4. This is the kiddo that arrived smack dab on his due date, setting a precedent that none of his brothers ever followed.

It seems like only yesterday that he arrived on a brutal winter day. Upon checking in, my OB doc, a veteran who’d delivered thousands of babies, assured me I’d be having a “5-1/2 to 6 pounder.” Oops. Try 8 pounds, 10 ounces; i.e., a moose. For a mama who stands just under 5 feet in her socks, this was no mean feat, especially with no pain killer. (Oh, epidural guy, how do I love thee? Let me count. And where were you, anyway?)

Now, 20 years later, he’s a sophomore in college with a heart for God and junior high kids and a major in psychology. He’s a blessing to his parents and his brothers, although it’s hard for them to see it when he’s getting the best of them in a dustup.

With the extended Schrock Christmas finished now, we’re already planning for Christmas 2010. That’s when we’re doing something new and different by heading for the hills (or make that the mountains) of Tennessee where we plan to rent a lodge.

Once when we were talking about it, I proposed the following agenda: “Day one, women go shopping, men watch kids. Day two, women go shopping, men watch kids.” At which point a brother-in-law broke in and said, “Day three, men watch football, kids lost in mountains.”

So we’ve got a few bugs to work out yet. We just want everyone to be happy with plenty of time for football, shopping, sharing our feelings and, yes, solving world peace.

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