It is always interesting when my family gets together for the holidays. 9 cousins, 12 aunts and uncles, 1 grandmother, and some friends of the family all gathered into my grandma’s house in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. All at one time. I love my family, so I don’t get too upset about having to constantly squeeze through tight spaces or stepping over people laying on the floor in front of the TV. Every year, without fail, this is how my Christmas vacation goes. It’s tradition, and I like it…
We arrive in Chicago, complain about how cold it is, joke about going back to Texas or going to Cancun instead, get in the limo, and head to grandma’s house. When we get to the house, we all say hello, give our hugs and kisses, and then beg grandma for hot chocolate and/or chicken soup. Us southerners aren’t used to this weather and for some reason we feel that hot chocolate and chicken soup are the cures for being chilly.
In this house, there are 3 extra bedrooms upstairs which are occupied by my parents in one room, my aunt and uncle in another, and my brothers in the other. That leaves me and my cousin Jimmy in the living room – me on the floor in a sleeping bag, and him on the couch. How is this justice? I’ll tell you how – it’s not. But, after 20 years of venturing to Chi-town, I have gotten used to this treatment….being the second youngest in the house puts me at the bottom of the list when it comes to seniority. And my cousin snores, so I keep a pile of pillow ammunition by my sleeping bag just in case I get rudely awakened in the middle of the night and decide to help him stop snoring with some projectile objects towards his head.
Naturally, sleeping in the living room means I wake up as soon as the first person in the house wakes up. So I am usually a little sleep deprived, but I like waking up early so that I can get out of the house and do things to start my day earlier. Especially when it comes to shopping. Now, I say that I like to start my day early to do shopping…but as soon as I get dressed, walk out the door, slip on the ice, and shout some profanity, I usually regret my decision to wake up early and be productive.
When I go Christmas shopping, I choose my company wisely. I know which aunts and uncles will want to browse for hours in insignificant stores such as a Hallmark and walk out with no more than a five dollar stuffed animal, and I know which relatives go to certain stores on a mission – get in, get out, go home. I prefer the latter. I am not much of a browser when it comes to shopping…I just like to go get my stuff and leave to go snuggle up with a blanket and a pillow by the window on the couch. (In the winter, I tend to hibernate and be a little bit cranky – I am a much nicer person in the warmer months….definitely a beach kinda girl). I have also learned to do a lot of my Christmas shopping online…no lines, no grinch-like angry people, and the best part about it is that they deliver the presents right to your door! Not quite the same as Santa, but a pretty close parallel I’d like to think.
Christmas morning is a lot of fun. We do things a little differently than the traditional gift-giving process. The entire family of about 20 or so people congregates around the Christmas tree and the pool table downstairs to exchange gifts. My Uncle Jim hands out the presents individually over a four-hour (ish) time period. It goes by quickly though…lots of food at the bar, cousins and relatives all opening presents and saying thank you and your’e welcome, and then afterwards, more food. This is all followed by board games accompanied by inappropriate disgusting jokes by my brothers and cousins, and then more food again. When the boys start laughing, everyone in the house knows that they are laughing about something disgusting. We have learned to not ask questions anymore.
This year, the snow is pretty packable. For many years in a row the snow hasn’t been very “snowman friendly” and we have been disappointed. However, when it isn’t good for snowmen, it’s great for sledding. Sliding on ice is the best. Anyways, my brother made a square snowman using trashcans to help him make the shapes. And he used food coloring to dye the snowman blue with a turkey baster. That is actually pretty creative compared to what he came up with last year. He dyed a tub of water yellow and pored it all over the lawn while telling people not to eat yellow snow. He is 22. There’s one in every family – I guess he’s it.
Merry Christmas 🙂