That being said, it was still a wonderful Christmas. It was quite different than other years, but still full of all the traditions I love.
My aunt and uncle and cousins arrived from Edmonton on Christmas Eve and stayed for two nights. It was so great to have them with us this year. They don't come down every year, and when they do, they usually stay with grandparents, so this was such a treat! Our house was busting at the seams, and it was great! We all went to the Christmas Eve service at my parent's church, which is right next door to our house in my high school gym. It was so bizarre to be in that hated place (gym was never a happy memory for me in high school!) and seeing it all decorated for Christmas. It bacame a holy place as something in the words of O Holy Night really struck me.
We all crammed into the family room afterwards and watched Jim Carey's version of The Grinch (I've had "be it eeever so heeeiiiinnnous, there's nooo place like hooome" stuck in my head ever since!). It seemed the picture perfect Christmas Eve - the whole family (two, in fact!) plus the dog all hanging out together by the fire. After the movie, we left some treats for Santa and all the "kids" were sent off to bed.
I still wake up early Christmas morning and sneak out to look at the scene in our living room. The warm glow of the tree, the bulging stockings, the pile of gifts underneath the tree, and the MESS Santa left (Santa is always messy when he somes to our house!)... I still feel like a kid on Christmas morning.
With TWO families around the tree, opening gifts was even more chaotic than usual! Both families open gifts one at a time so we can see what everybody gets, so it took nearly two hours to open everything! I got, among other things, a drybag for kayaking, Scategories, an engraved pen, software to make a photography book, and a compact, lightweight tent which will be perfect for backpacking! The tent was one of those items on the wishlist that I thought I'd put on, but really wasn't expecting to get! Yippee!
Every year, my dad lavishes gifts on my mom. She's stopped giving him a wishlist, because he'll go and buy everything on it. This year he was left to fend for himself, and he did a pretty darn good job. Every year, my parents make a calendar with photos they've taken throughout the year. We give them to the aunts and uncles, the grandparents, etc. Mom's last gift was one of these calendars. BUT, stuffed in March's page was a CD labelled, "What's this all about?" Dad opened up his laptop and popped in the CD. A powerpoint presentation began to play. To back it up here for jsut a minute, my parents don't take lavish vacations. They'd love to, but they jsut can't. The last real vacation they went on was to Hawaii for their 25th anniversary, which was eight years ago. Also, both of my parents have had quite a tough year. So, Dad decided to do some homework. This presentation was the result of that. One of the slides asked my mom if she remembered this guy:
It tok my uncle humming a few bars of the theme song to "The Love Boat" before my mom realized what exactly she was getting...
Dad had booked a TEN day cruise of the Mexican Riviera, leaving from San Fransisco. He also booked another six days in San Fransisco at the end of the cruise, complete with tickets to a few shows and a day in the Napa Valley touring the vinyards. Because my mom only gets one week off at spring break, he had also arranged for an extra week off work for her (she teaches preschool, outside of the public system, so time off is actually quite difficult to get). WOWEE!!! I'm SO excited for them. This will be a much deserved holiday for them. Yahoooo!
The rest of the family came over in the afternoon and we did the crazy gift thing again (another two hours!) and had dinner. We had twenty-two people for Christmas dinner. TWENTY-TWO! After everybody but my aunt and uncle and cousins had left, a dance party broke out in the living room. Everybody under the age of 25 left as quickly as they could (mortified to see their parents dancing, I'm sure. It was quite funny). Although I stuck around, I didn't dance. I thought I'd let them have thier fun! ;) Once again, not a typical Christmas!
I hope your Christmas was happy!