Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Traditions (?)

Well, the Christmas celebrations kicked off on December 22nd with a visit to my parents. It was sort of a traditional Christmas gathering, complete with a nice, sit-down dinner. It was relatively peaceful, and really enjoyable with my little nephew having his first Christmas. Nothing beat all the kids opening up their gifts and "oooh"-ing and "aahhhh"-ing over their new treasures. My munchkin was especially thrilled with a box of dress-up clothes. She's getting to that age where she really enjoys fantasy-play.

Sunday the 23rd, we made long, arduous drive to the Hicktown of the Great White North--also known as Lomira, Wisconsin. The drive normally isn't too bad, but the weather was not cooperating at all, and we needed to stop and eat. It ended up taking about 5 hours total. We had a nice visit with my husband's youngest brother and wife. Things started getting a bit hectic Christmas Eve when my mother-in-law (also known as Grandma Claus) showed up with about 200 gifts. I swear, I'm not exaggerating. My sister-in-law and I were almost in tears, because we had agreed we would sort the gifts ahead of time for easy-opening on Christmas Day. It took about 2 hours; and all of that was blown to bits later when Grandma Claus came back later with more gifts and then moved our neatly made piles. Then there was a fight, because even though my husband told his mom about a month ago that we needed to leave by 11:30 on Christmas morning, she had a fit and said we were messing things up for everyone else. She ended up calling my husband's other brother and insisted they come that night and spend the night. So, he, his wife and two kids came late Christmas Eve. Really late. Late as in my little girl woke up and would not go back to sleep. Everyone ended up spending the night. There was a lot of drinking. And playing video games. And arguing. And more drinking. My husband and I rarely drink at all, so it was a bit anxiety-provoking.

In between all of that, there was a big fiasco about how we don't go to church for Christmas. This has been an argument since our daughter was born. We do not bring our daughter to church on Palm Sunday, Easter Sunday or Christmas. It's really long, terribly crowded, and honestly, we get cranky. We attend church the rest of the year, and even though most Catholics would be shocked, we just choose not to go on those days. Actually, I go on Palm Sunday, but the kiddo stays home with daddy. We all skip Easter and Christmas. But I digress.

Anyhoo, my sister-in-law had to follow up on some work-related issues because she was on-call Christmas Eve and wasn't able to put dinner together before church. I told her it was no big deal--the rest of the family could go, and we'd make the lasagna while they were gone. It was a different recipe, one I hadn't made before, but it was really, really good. We pulled it off without a hitch, except for the fact that it bubbled over some in the oven. *Someone* was really upset with me. I promised to clean it up, but it was met with huffy sighs and eye-rolling. Ah well. No good deed goes unpunished, right?

During dinner that night, there was another fight between my hubby and his mom about us leaving early, and of course, the whole guilt trip about how she was going to have to get up at 4am to make dinner. She was told she didn't have to--we were going to eat breakfast, open gifts, grab a snack and then hit the road. Oh no. She was having none of that. She was bound and determined to make a complete dinner so the family could sit and eat before we left. I appreciated the effort, but she knew plenty in advance that none of that was necessary. And she refused our suggested alternative to have a nice Christmas Day breakfast or brunch.

Christmas morning finally rolled around. The kids were excited to open their gifts. Mountains of gifts. I personally struggled with the severity of the...I don't know what word to use...excess? I mean, this was beyond excessive. And speaking of excess, due to the imbibing of certain family members the night before, tempers were flaring and by 8:15am, many adults were on their second rounds of Bloody Marys. Yeah. Then there was yelling about how the kids were too loud. Except that they weren't. Not at all. But I guess hangovers do that--kind of amplify all noises. Now, after two hours of opening gifts, the kids started getting irritable and fussy--they're all under the age of four, mind you, and the parents finally just started tearing them open to get them finished.

My mother-in-law guilted us into staying to eat. That was uncomfortable because the (by then, quite drunk) brothers and sisters-in-law were complaining that it was too early to eat such a big meal. So, 11:45am is too early to eat some turkey and potatoes, but 8:15am isn't too early for Bloody Marys and bottles of Watermelon Smirnoff? Go figure.

We finally, blessedly, got out and made our way home. The drive back was better than the drive up and we spent the evening relaxing. We had an intimate family Christmas the day after, just the three of us. It was wonderful and peaceful. My daughter's favorite gift was a Hello Kitty wafflemaker and a Little People school bus. Then we spent the day just hanging out on the couch. Nice.

So, just to reinforce, I'm having the Christmas gathering at my house next year. A nice brunch--with whole grain pancakes, a fluffy egg quiche, and of course, Hello Kitty waffles. I can't wait.


jAYME said...

Wow, talk about year it will be nice to have it at home.

I hope you have a safe, happy and healthy New Year Martha!

Cheryl said...

What a fiasco! I'm just shaking my head here. So glad you at least got our early and were able to enjoy the drive and time at home.