Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Four Christmases?! Amateurs...

Merry Christmas, my loyal followers (all 5 of you)!

So, I heard about this movie "Four Christmases", starring Reese Witherspoon & Vince Vaughn. All I could think was, "JUST four!?"

This year is an oddity for us, as we're cutting out our annual trip down Monroe ways to Ida for my cousin's Christmas Eve bash. It's usually the biggest family gathering of the year for my side of the family, with anywhere from 20 to 30 people in attendance. The only problem is, it's in Ida (a good hour's drive). After totaling my car, nearly killing myself and family, and spending the wee hours of Christmas morning in the ER, we figured maybe this was the year we decide to forgo that piece of the holidays and spend Christmas Eve at home.

Usually, this is how Christmas plays out for my family...

Christmas #1)
Christmas Eve, I'll innevitably be working for at least the first few hours of the day. I'll head home about 3ish and we'll spend an hour or so packing up gifts, fudge, cookies, and kids to head to Ida. We usually get there later than most of the family who had the entire day off, but we have an absolutely WONDERFUL time catching up, eating fabulous food, singing carols, opening gifts from extended family, and enjoying the festive atmosphere my cousin manages to muster up every year.

From there, we'll head home, and (when the weather and mode of transporation cooperate, anyway), shuffle the sleepy younglings into the house to lay cookies, fudge and milk out for Santa (along with a few carrots for Rudolph). Then we'll spend the next couple hours filling stockings, wrapping presents, having a drink, and hit the hay.

Christmas #2)
Christmas morning is at home. The kids wake us up at some sort of reasonable hour, having worn themselves out playing with extended cousins the night before. We'll open gifts, have breakfast, maybe watch a Christmas special, and play with our gifts a bit. Afterwards, we'll start gathering more gifts, kids, and a contribution to the next piece of the Christmas Mele...

Christmas #3)
We'll drive to the in-laws' for The Wife's family Christmas. We'll pile though the door and unload the gifts to the already huge pile under the tree. Before we start tearing into wraping paper, we'll spend an hour or so eating the Ferris Traditional Candy Cane-Shaped Coffee Cake as Mom-In-Law & The Wife do some can't-wait-till-later prep for the dinner with her cousins later in the afternoon.

Finally, we'll start the gift-giving. We do this one gift at a time (which drives me nuts, but the kids seem to be fine with). When all is said and done, the kids spend the afternoon with ther toys and we finish prep for dinner. The Wife's cousins come over about 4 and we socialize before dinner. We'll often play some board game or something, have the Ferris Traditional Christmas Pudding and head home about 10ish.

Christmas #4)
Sometime the next afternoon, we'll head to my grandfather's to have Christmas with my more immediate side of the family: mom, uncle, grandfather, & sister. We usually order pizza, open gifts, and just enjoy each others company.

Christmas #5)
Usually in the evening the day after Christmas (sometimes a day or two later) we'll head to my great uncle's place for ANOTHER gathering with my extended-extended family. We'll see cousins we only bump into here, munch on more great food, and catch up a bit. This one I'm not always so fond of, because the inevitable questions arises, "So how's that degree coming?" I'll cite the usual excuses for being a gnat's hair away from my degree, which is usually met with the typical pitiful look of dismay. Ugh. Regardless, we usually have fun and the kids will get some nice little gift from my great aunt and uncle that they'll enjoy much more than anticipated (or at least show polite enthusiasm toward), and we'll head home about 8 or 9.

We've followed this pattern to some degree of reliability for the past decade or so, with the occasional kink in the plan that we'll usually roll with. Every year we say that next year we'll scale it back and forgo some piece of it. This is the first year we're actually following through with it. I'll miss the gathering in Ida, as it's the one piece of Christmas left from my childhood (and several generations back) that has remained fairly consistent throughout the years. Still it'lll be nice not to have the mad dash out the door and frantic scurrying on Christmas Eve.

This year will be different, but families change, traditions form and evolve, and life goes on. I fully expect a wonderful and relaxing Holiday season.

...especially with 5 days off in a row. Haven't had that in a LOOOOOOONG time!

No comments: