Calm. Laid back. Fun, but also not too loud considering there are only 5 or 6 people involved, now that I'm in the picture.
Not so in my family.
Christmas Eve in my family means there are my dad's two sisters and husbands, their four children, two spouses of those children, and five grandchildren. Then of course, my mom, my two brothers, my sister-in-law and our kids as well. Usually someone involves at least one dog as well... It is not calm, it is not laid back, it IS fun, but it is definitely LOUD. Like, LOUD. Lots of chanting ("presents, presents"... and then when it's someone's turn, "Lindsay, Lindsay..." and such. But we also make other variations of the chanting. Sometimes there may be some banging involved, sometimes a little "under-chant" of the person's middle or last name... maybe a nickname. Usually clapping, and sometimes we've been known to do the "wave" as well. The wave one does at a baseball game with a full stadium - not the wave one does with their hands), dancing, decorative bows being placed on heads, bodies, babies and children, etc. We usually potluck the meal and scatter all over the house to eat without a lot of etiquette or placing of silverware or napkin rings. We do always read the Christmas story, I mean, we are Christians after all... The presents usually involve something passed down from my grandparents who are no longer alive, a gift that my aunt found at Sam Moon or from a street vendor on a local trip, and then usually some Starbucks gift cards. Seriously, it's really a crazy night of fun, noise, laughs and general hysteria. In other words, awesomeness. This is what I'm used to.
When Niles and I got married and he came to his first Christmas Eve with my family, I thought he might curl up in the fetal position under the tree and cry tears of fear. He was so completely overwhelmed and exhausted within the first 10 minutes of it all. And if you know my husband, you should understand that the words "loud", "hysterical", "fun", and "exhausting" are not foreign to him. They are, in fact, part of his general make-up. Ironically, though, he is exhausted by the collective force of my family's ability to celebrate in high gear. We fought, not because he did anything wrong, or I did anything wrong, but because I could not understand why he was not enjoying and participating in the madness. I was so hurt and offended by his lack of comprehension and ability to celebrate up to Cole par, that I told him he was ruining Christmas for me. HA!! Oh, the newlywed days. =)) We really should have discussed holiday traditions in our pre-marital counseling. We may have waited another year. =)
But seriously. Nowadays, I know not to get offended when Niles disappears at various points of the evening to sit in some quiet corner (bathroom, closet, 7-11 down the road...). I know just to carry on as I normally would with my loud, crazy family members, and eventually Niles will rejoin the party, rejuvenated, and perhaps even ready to participate. Although, I don't hold my breath. =)
Without further ado, and before I write another post about Christmas Day and the general vacation time I've enjoyed... Here's Christmas Eve 2010.
|Reese getting hot rolled for the first time. Of course, it's totally dramatic and she looks like Mommie Dearest without the face mask, martini or wire hangers... =)|
|Reese's cousins, Coco and Portia|
|The girls getting ready to lead us in a round of "Twelve Days of Christmas". They assigned us all 'parts' =)|
|Coco, Portia and Kiana|
|Three French Hens!|
|I'm quite obviously a Partridge in a Pear Tree.|
|Bryce and mom are also partridges.|
|Reese is a Lady dancing. She played her part beautifully.|
|Drummer/Pastor Drumming. There might as well have been ten.|
|FIVE GOLDEN RINGS. LOUD ONES.|
|My beautiful boy with his gammy!|
|Count on Reese to get comfortable right in the middle of everything. =))|
|Wa ha Ah say Ah say Ah say...|
|This is a pretty good image of the chaos that ensues when we try to figure out how we will start the round of present-passing-out.|
|Best way I can think of to end this post. He's pretty spectacular.|