This will be my final post specific to our Christmas adventures this year. I wanted to write a little something from each place we stayed so that one day, my boys could look back at these posts and more easily recall some really valuable time they spent with family. I have a lot of memories from each place to chose from, so it’s been hard to narrow down what I want to write about. As with each place we stayed, there were many memorable moments at my mother’s house, and I had many experience worthy of writing about. I thought of writing a post about her new cat, but that may come later. I thought of writing about how my cousin’s little guy (Declend, same age as Jake) stayed over and both Jake AND Declend were visited by the Tooth Fairy! But, ultimately, I think the biggest lesson I learned from this leg of our trip was probably learned at our family Christmas gathering.
Every year growing up, I have looked forward to my mother’s family Christmas gatherings. (Actually, I look forward to all my family Christmas gatherings, but this one in particular, because there’s no expectation to dress up or be anything other than what you are daily, which is fantastic.) As anyone who remotely follows my blog probably knows, I was very close to my Gma Rae. (She was my mother’s mother.) We had such an interesting relationship. I am in many ways a carbon copy of her. Always a little too loud, a little too opinionated, and always speaking my mind. I’m quick to laugh, eager to visit and happy to share whatever I have. And, I’m very proud that I learned a lot of this from my grandmother. Having said that, it’s also fair to say that we were, at times, too alike and often, when our loud opinions clashed, it wasn’t always a pretty sight. Perhaps we should suffice to say that most everyone in our family picked up some amazing element of her personality, and I believe that all of her children were eager to be around her just to absorb more of the charisma she had. Every Christmas get-together seemed to be a illustration of this longing to be with and to be like her. Each year, regardless of location, her children, grandchildren and sometimes adopted pseudo children (I say this meaningfully- not that adoptive children are not real family, but that she seriously just randomly decided to “adopt” every 3rd person she met, so… ) would fill the house.
We would all come to these parties with warm hearts and small presents and the eagerness to have good time. Some years, we had “Chinese auction” or “White Elephant” gift exchanges. Even if we had nothing to give, we’d fill a box full of some silliness and anxiously pass the boxes around until we all had our hands on some shiny wrapping paper. Other years, when money was not so tight, Grandma would be exceptionally generous. One year, she wrapped a single Nintendo game for each grandchild to open. When we bawked that not one of us had a Nintendo system to play the game on, she acted very innocent and remorseful and a little shocked. BUT, her face was more excited than our own faces as we each opened up our brand new Nintendo systems next. At her final Christmas party, she wrapped every present for every person there with a Christmas bow made out of a hundred dollar bill. That was her exciting way of seeing us enjoy our inheritance. She loved giving, but she also loved to be a bit of a jokster in her presentations.
This was our first year without her. And, to add to sorrow, it was our first year without my beloved Aunt Vickie as well. Aunt Vickie, like Gma, was always full of smiles and laughter, and I had my doubts as to whether or not our family could keep the same level of ease and enjoyment without them. I was very anxious about how we would all do.
The party started like most others. This year, my mother had found a simple dice game for the great grand children to play, and then we watched them all open presents. The food, like all years, was a hosh posh of random yummy dishes, and there were many hugs and stories to be shared.
But, before too long, the fights began to break out. It wasn’t precisely what I had been worried about, but there were fists being thrown nonetheless….
(There’s more, but you get the idea…)
And what do you think Gma and Aunt Vickie would’ve said about all this chaos? Aunt Vickie, I’m sure, would’ve been sitting on the couch, next to her sisters, screaming and shouting and subjecting the losers of the boxing matches to the ultimate punishment- Auntie Kisses!!! (Yep, the losers were actually lifted and dragged through a line of their aunts to be kissed crazily all over. True torture.) It crossed my mind that Gma might serve as a referee to this behavior had she been there, but the more I think about it, I’m really surprised that we couldn’t hear her cheering us on from Heaven. I’m certain her and Aunt Vickie were looking down on us. A Merry Christmas, indeed.