Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas part 2

Ever since I was very young, we have celebrated our Christmas on the 24th. I was that kid that got up at 3:00 a.m. so my parents moved our celebrations to the 24th ever since. This tradition has worked to our advantage for a couple of reasons:
1. You get your stuff before midnight mass and can wear cool new things. This was important to me in junior high.
2. You get to stay up late and can sleep in on the 25th
3. As an adult, my family is reserved for the 24th and M's is the 25th - no arguments about who and when.
4. You have a whole day to get ready for the After Christmas Sales.

In the past, we could have celebrated three or even four Christmas's. This year is no exception. Growing up - we'd celebrate Christmas early with just the 5 of us, then drive 600 miles to Wisconsin and celebrate at both Grandparent's houses. Very cool when you're 11. The same is true when you're 41... This year: the 23rd with my younger brother & family, 24th with the rest of the family, 25th with M and his parents, and the 26th with M's brother's family. Phew!

The 24th has very strong traditions for my family that we try to keep from year to year:
1. We go to a fancy place for brunch. This way, my Mom is not cooking all day. And everyone gets what they want, too. Plus, no one wants to sit down for a fancy Christmas dinner at my folk's house.
2. We hang out between the brunch and mass time - naps, playing pool, or just visiting.
3. We always go to 4:00 mass to "get it over with". I always go early with my Dad to save seats - around 3:10. We usually have mass in the gym as it is faster and you get a cushioned chair. But this year, my Mom was a Eucharistic captain in the main church, so we had to leave even earlier this year to save seats in the pew. It is definitely much easier to save a certain amount of chairs for the family, then space in the pew.
4. We get home around 5:10 and we all change into comfy clothes.
5. We have my favorite meal of the year - Christmas party food. This includes shrimp, cheeses, meats, crackers, hotdogs of some sort (don't ask), meatballs, and craploads of candy/cookies. If we're lucky, my sister-in-law makes us buckeyes. And this year, my parents made my favorite - press cookies. I am in charge of chocolates and chex mix (see below post).
6. Dad makes us his famous bloody mary's or anything else we want.
7. We open presents in the family room with a couple of "rules". One at a time, usually youngest to oldest and certain people are in charge of the garbage bags, gift bags and boxes. This can last for hours, but with my younger brother missing some years, it is shorter.
8. We try on our stuff afterwards to show it off. M and I pack the car and head home or in the past we'd drive to his folks' place 100 miles away. As bad as this seems, I love driving on Christmas Eve seeing all of the lights.

Today, my in-laws are over for the first time on Christmas. M and I have always celebrated the 25th in their home - until this year. As important the 24th is to me, the 25th is to him. Because my in-laws downsized their home, we invited them this year. No fancy meal - just sandwiches and party food - totally my style. Right now, they're all in the family room watching a dvd they bought M for Christmas. The movie is from 1949, so I found other "things" to do - like clean up the kitchen, tidy up and write this. I'm not being anti-social or anything - in fact I don't think they even know I'm gone. (although I found out in the last 2 nights while playing the game "True Colors" that I evidently talk too much while watching movies - so they are really not missing me.) Note to self - try not to talk while watching movies.

It is not often I am alone on Christmas day. But today I was alone for awhile - while M napped and even now as I write this. And that's ok - as everyone that I love, I saw or will see in these four days. I hope everyone who reads this post has had as good a Christmas as me - if you did, you are blessed like me. :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

The countdown begins...

You'd think I'd have my shit in gear with all the time on my hands. (That is a very long post that I'll write some day). But I don't. For some reason, the holiday rush is on me and I have no idea where the last two weeks went. It certainly wasn't me enjoying the holiday season.

Things I've got to do - and fast:
Make chocolates. If I go to my parents' house without them, I'll be sent home. And if they let me in, they'll make fun of me. I'd rather make the candy.
Make Chex-Mix. Ditto on the harassment above.
Wrap a couple of gifts.
Clean the house - and not just clean: in-law clean.
Eat dinner - food has passed me by lately. Said soon post will explain.
Complete work before the holiday shut down. Again, I'll explain later, if needed.
Run a couple of errands tomorrow.
Enjoy.

Easy, right?!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas

Feel free to copy this to your site:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both (only use bags when I’m being lazy)

2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial... Neither of us will do the work of the live tree

3. When do you put up the tree(S)? Thanksgiving weekend or first week of December

4. When do you take the tree down? Between New Year's and my birthday - earlier if we are traveling in January.

5. Do you like eggnog? blech

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A Crayola Craft Art kit – it was really cool. I also got a harvest-gold portable 8-track player in 3rd grade - awesome. And in 8th grade, I got some blue tennis-shoe roller skates.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My in-laws and my Dad is super hard to surprise.

8. Easiest person to buy for? Nephews and nieces

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes – my Mom painted it and it is priceless

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail for family and ecards to work friends.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Clothes that are a size LARGE. (nothing more embarrassing than getting clothes too small that you can’t exchange)

12. Favorite Christmas Movies? All Rankin-Bass (it is a guilty pleasure)

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? November and I hit it hard on Black Friday

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I’ve donated gifts that I can’t use, does that count?

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My Grandma’s recipe for press cookies (my Mom makes them sometimes - maybe this will remind her to make them this year)

16. Lights on the tree? I change my mind each year.

17. Favorite Christmas song? I like them all

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay in Ohio

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Uh, see answer to #12 – of course!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither – I have my Grandma’s tree topper from the Depression. She paid .19 for it. The most treasured Christmas item I have.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? My family's tradition is the 24th. And M's family's is the 25th. Works out great.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? I get anxiety with all the “work” involved with the holiday.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I have my Grandma’s antique ornaments, my Mom’s from the 60’s and I also collect ornaments from traveling. I have soldier with missing buttons from 1969. My Mom bought my older brother and I a soldier and a snowman and she let me "pick". It back-fired. And I have a silly pom-pom Cookie Monster I made in 3rd grade.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? No such thing for us – we have party food on Christmas Eve. It's my favorite “dinner” of the year.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? No fighting