Well, this is it! The final piece of the cliff-hanging trilogy of Holiday Spirit, then its OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW!
(Forgive me if this blog is not up to par but I've been up all night, and this is the last thing I will do before taking a quick nap and starting a new day.)
At the risk of giving up my alias to the two remaining people who know me (but don't), I am going to write about the 2005 holidays as experienced in my world (and some of yours).
At the onset of the holiday season this year, it would be putting it kindly to say I was feeling kind of bleak about the prospect of, at least a "Merry Christmas". One of my siblings trekked off across the country with his significant other to celebrate Christmas, thus forcing our family to either celebrate Christmas early or (worse) away from each other. (What's the best choice between a rattlesnake and cobra, again?) Anyway, we chose the former, celebrating "Christmas" a week early. Because it is our unbroken (until this year) tradition in our family to celebrate on Christmas Eve, this really was quite a disheartening idea.
Well, if it was a disheartening IDEA, the reality of it was down CRAPPY!! First, instead of the regularly scheduled evening activities, it was held in the afternoon (yes-it makes a difference!). Moving past the beautifully prepared Cornish hen dinner and the "children's program", which was excitedly uneventful, we continued on to the adult "exchanging of gifts"'. Now, a little background here: the rule USED TO BE: 'no exchanging between "kids" (meaning my generation), only gifts for Mom and Dad and the little children. Yeah! FAT CHANCE! But, if you'll refer back to Holiday Spirit I, you will recall how I chose to handle THAT problem. No--the truth is, we did something I swore I would never do, this year. We actually gave out pictures of ourselves. Now, normally, this would be number one on my: "what not to give list" (Okay--people with kids, don't freak out, I know it is acceptable after that point), but all the families wanted one, but they were EXPENSIVE, so instead of taking them up on their offer to buy their own, we gave them as gifts. I digress....so, it ended up that Dad's gift (that was from ALL of us), didn't come in, and he sat looking like the puppy who couldn't get a teat, during this whole event. Oh, well, things were bound to get better. Right? Wrong!
On to ROUND 4: Dirty Santa. Poor Mom, always trying to make things more enjoyable for everyone, tried to jazz up this, sometimes vicious game. Well, right away, one of my sister-n-laws figured out that she may not end up with exactly what she brought (as she aims to every year), so she demanded that we revert back to the old way. The truth is, I really wasn't crazy about the prospect of this new version either (you had to perform silly little jigs or what have you, before selecting a gift from under the tree), but Mom had put heart into it, and I wasn't about to so blatantly disregard this fact. But, this particular sister-in-law got a few followers behind her little riot and managed to overthrow Mom and get the game changed back to regular "Dirty Santa". Without going into the rules of the game, or a long detailed account of how it went down in this specific "CRAPMAS", I will just say that Dad ended up opening over half the gifts(each time someone feeling sorry for him and stealing his so he could try again),and complaining about every single one , and wound up giving away the gift he DID end up with. Oh, yeah---and that one sister-in-law---DID manage to go home with the gift that she had brought! Mercifully, it finally ended!
For most of the next week however, it seemed as if Christmas was over, literally. This breaking of tradition really threw off my Internal Seasonal Clock. But low and behold, Christmas was brought back to life, when we chose to reunite with an old Christmas tradition on Christmas Eve night. Before my grandmother passed away, our family always gathered there on Christmas Eve to celebrate Christmas (got me yet?). After she passed away, our immediate family, having grown a great deal, went our separate way. This year, however, with our regular plans foiled, many of us rejoined our Aunts, Uncles and cousins.
Earlier that day, I had to make a last minute Christmas shopping run to pick up 'Big Bird's' present. I rode with a friend, and along the way she told me of a game that cost little money, everyone got a present (some crappier, some good), and was an overall good time. Since their was not "present exchanging" plans on the agenda that night (and let's face it, that IS one of the funnest parts of family Christmas), I decided to get the gifts together and play this game with my family. This friend and I sat in her car at Sonic and laughed on this rainy Christmas Eve and enjoyed Christmas for what it is: spending time with loved ones-great friends and family (See Holiday Spirit II), and giving for the pure joy of it, not out of obligation or with expectations of a gift in return (See Holiday Spirit I). After lunch, we raced home for a quick wrapping party (which couldn't have been more fun with spiked eggnog!) I had THE MOST FUN buying these cheap gifts and elegantly wrapping them, laughing about "what if so and so get this or that-tee hee", than I've had at Christmas in a loooong time----since I was a kid!
That night, I walked into my Grandmother's house with two huge Rubbermaid containers full of presents, and I was as giddy as a child on this (historically) fateful night. My family--my faithful and familiar undeniably wonderful family-- was there, the house was decorated and happy. A feast complete with Turkey and sweet potatoes was spread out on the table, just waiting to be devoured. It was almost as if it had nothing was changed or was out of the daily ordinary--like this was what one would expect to find ANY day of the year when walking into that house--Christmas trimmings and all......Its' always Christmas at Grandmother's house--because that is how I choose to remember it.
The game turned out to be a short-lived, unexpected holiday treat for my family. But for me, on Christmas Eve 2005, I made memories that will last forever. For around $50 and a lot of ribbons and bows, I was able to regain the Holiday Spirit that I was so desperately missing this year.
I hope you found your Holiday Spirit this year!
(P.S.) If you didn't, it's not too late....New Year's Eve party at my place!