As I begin writing this, it is 8 pm on the 23rd of December. And I am done. I have been done since 4:30 this afternoon. I am just sitting on the sofa watching The Grinch, stunned I have time to sit at all.
Shopping for shit I forgot I had to buy the first time… check
As much packing as can happen today… check
How can I be done? Convinced this could not be, I looked at John and said, ‘Did I forget to do something? Because I’m never done this early. I forgot something, didn’t I? Maybe I should make those other cookies, too…’
To which he replied, ‘No, you do not need to make the other cookies. You’re done. Relax. You win Christmas.’
Tomorrow we drive down to Mom’s for Christmas Eve.
We’ll have our yearly gift swap with some of the extend family. [Why yes, Aunt Dumbass should be there. Thanks for asking!] This year, we decided to put a twist on the swap. All swap gifts had to begin with a letter from my late Grandma’s name: A-K-M-N-R. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I ended up with… a fancy can of Nuts surrounded by fun-size Kit-Kats, all held together with some Ribbon, and that whole thing held in the arms of an adorable stuffed Kermit the Frog. [Pssst… Kermit is so adorable… I kind of want to end up with my own gift.]
We’ll have food, probably too much. It won’t be Gram’s old menu. That amazing woman made her pierogi [usually well over 100 of them] every Christmas Eve until she was 91. For her last couple of Christmases, she had to take it easy so Italian took over, in part. But no matter what we have to eat, it’s always delicious. And Mom will make her amazing Strawberry Champagne Punch. Christmas Eve is one of the only days of the year I consume an adult beverage.
We always overdo the desserts. Mom makes two or three things, my sister J makes a couple of things and her husband the chef will make a pie or two, and I make at least two things. My other sister, D, does not bake… or cook much at all. And we’ll have whatever other desserts my cousins may bring. And Aunt Dumbass might even bring something. So yes, waaaay too much dessert. But food is at least half the fun of every holiday!
This year, I made Melt-in-Your-Mouth Chocolate Peanut Butter Rice Krispies Treats and a Lemon Pound Cake that was a huge hit a few years ago.
After Aunt Dumbass and the rest of the extended family head home, Mom, sister D, sister J and I talk about them while cleaning up. It’s always hilarious. And fun. Later, John and I, our kids, my sister J and the Chef and their son, and my sister D all change into pajamas and we sleep over. All of us. [Not my asshat sister who doesn’t speak to half of us – we don’t see her at all.] I love our sleepover tradition because it feels, for me, like the Christmases of my [much] younger days. And it’s lovely for Mom, especially since Dad has been gone.
In the morning, we all sit around the beautiful tree and open gifts. The kids are especially adorable in their crazy Christmas present frenzy! After all the packages have been unwrapped, it’s time for breakfast – pancakes [usually with blueberries Mom picked the previous summer and froze for Christmas], bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs… and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
But there’s more – Chef brother-in-law will make a Christmas dinner, not always the same thing. And of course, it’s always incredible.
And finally, we’ll pack up and drive home, roll into our house [think Violet from Willy Wonka], and try to unpack before collapsing. And John and I will try desperately to figure out where the hell we’re going to put all the new gifts we just brought home… because there is no space! And then we’ll give up, get the kids to bed, and watch a movie or something.
Yeah. I win Christmas.