Another Christmas has passed us by. I am enjoying the luxury of a four day weekend and reflecting on what a wonderful holiday it was. My gifts were many. Though very few of my gifts were the kind that could actually be unwrapped, these were more than I could have hoped for.
Christmas Eve used to be a day on which we would gather together with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews for a family celebration. Things have changed over the past few years with the family now scattered among a few different states. The Christmas Eve celebration we once looked forward to is no longer possible. This year, Christmas Eve was a quiet night spent at home with my three kids while my husband worked. Aside from the fact that my hubby wasn’t here, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The kids and I cooked a steak dinner together and everyone pitched in. Jake helped prepare the steaks for the grill and set the table. Kacey made the baked potatoes and helped set the table as well. Brad grilled the steaks while I sauteed mushrooms in butter and fried some zucchini with more fresh mushrooms and sliced onions in olive oil. The four of us sat together at the table and enjoyed our dinner. Afterwards, without me even having to ask, all of the kids pitched in with the clean-up.
After dinner, we relaxed in the family room, watched The Santa Clause, and then something unheard of happened! Jake and Kacey opened up the game cupboard; the one that holds all kinds of those old-fashioned kind of games of the type that can’t be played in an electronic game system or on the computer. They dusted off a few old favorites and soon my children were playing together without bickering or antagonizing each other! They played a game of Life and then Harry Potter - Mystery at Hogwarts (the Harry Potter version of Clue.) Then out came Kerplunk and I noticed they were talking and laughing together. They were actually enjoying each other’s company. Soon the electronic Catch Phrase game came out and Jake and I faced off against Brad and Kacey. We were in hysterics and passing the game off to the next player as quickly as possible before the buzzer went off. Even yesterday, the kids kept referring back to various moments during that game to laugh again over so many of the fun moments. Their favorite was when we were playing a round of the sports and games category. Jake had to give me a clue and was drawing a blank. He began with, “It’s a baseball team…” and then hesitated. Then a light bulb went off over his head. He scrunched up one eye, curled his lips, looked me in the eye and shouted, “ARG! SCURVY!” I jumped out of my chair shouting “PITTSBURGH PIRATES,” in response and the game was tossed off to Brad just in time for the buzzer to sound and for Jake and I to earn a point. We played many rounds and honestly, I don’t know who won, and don’t think any of us cared. That evening, surrounded by my kids, with everyone enjoying each other was the best gift I could have asked for.
Christmas morning came and the kids were overjoyed with their gifts and very gracious. We don’t go overboard with Christmas gifts but the kids can always count on getting that one thing they really want (within reason) along with several other things we know they’ll enjoy. Throughout the morning, each of the three would come find me wherever I happened to be to give me a hug and say thank you again. I have great kids!
Mark and I had agreed not to exchange gifts this year. Of course, he didn’t follow the rules and I was mildly irritated when Kacey, playing Santa, dropped a rather heavy gift in my lap. I should have known better than to think Mark would abide by the agreement, but I couldn’t hold a grudge when I saw that he had really thought about something I would enjoy that wasn’t a huge expense. Inside the shiny wrapping paper were two brand new books. One is a book I had been wanting. The other was one I’d never heard of but is written by a Minnesota author and I’ve started already and am really enjoying it. (Mark is getting his gift today. The garage door opener bit the dust, so he’ll be buying and installing a new one today. Don’t feel too sorry for him, though. He loves the challenge of a good project.)
The rest of our Christmas day was spent at my in-laws’ home with Mark’s extended family. We managed to take a nice family picture before we became too immersed in the festivities. I might actually have to frame this one:
There were thirty-one of us in all and we had a great time. Mark’s dad has recovered enough from his bout with pneumonia to enjoy the day. We had a delicious meal and sat around the table long after the meal was finished, drinking wine, talking, laughing and generally having a great time. There have been years where there was tension between a few family members, but this year was just easy and peaceful. It was great!
Gift opening takes a couple of hours with so many people, and the way it begins with the youngest child and moves progressively until Mark’s parents finally open their gifts. The evening finally ended with a huge spread of Christmas cookies, candies and pies. We returned home happy and stuffed to the gills.
This morning I woke up to a wonderful 24 degrees. It’s the first time in a week that the temperature wasn’t well below zero or there weren’t several inches of new fallen snow on the ground. I was out by 6:30 this morning enjoying the darkness and quiet and a much needed run.
The coming week brings short work days again and another four day weekend. I could get used to this!
I hope that all of you were able to enjoy and recognize the gifts of this beautiful season as well!