Every year both sides of our family gather at our house to open presents, visit, tell stories, laugh a lot, and eat ridiculous amounts of food. We often have guests join us too and this year my son's girlfriend spent the day with us. We all had fun trying to out-do telling silly stories to his girlfriend of when Jake was little, like how he used to eat the entire olive tray but first had to stick the olives on each of his fingers and run around showing everybody before he ate them off. I bet he's loving his aunties for that! My favorite story this year has to be the one my sister told of being attacked by a crow in downtown Seattle. The crow dove at her 3 times and even got his claws all up in her hair...right in the middle of a downtown block that she walks down every day while she was all dressed up in her work clothes. It was like a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds! The way she told it was so funny that I had tears rolling down my face. I don't know what it is about crows and our family...
About 10 or so years ago, I got in the habit of writing out our Christmas menu to have displayed on Christmas Day. It started out as a working checklist for me to keep track of everything that I was making and coordinating so it would all be done at the same time, but since I like to find ways to pretty things up, it turned into a menu display that I have fun creating each year. It's a little dorky but it's a tradition now and I kind of like my dorky ways, so I keep doing it. Here's this year's menu overlayed onto a picture collage of my bird ornament collection:
We do up a huge Christmas feast! That's how my mother used to do it and that's how I do it too. It might be a little much, but it's just the way it is here and I actually really enjoy all the cooking and planning and feasting. Since the adults on my side of the family don't exchange gifts, I consider hosting the Christmas gathering and dinner as my gift to them. I love making it special and relaxing and delicious, but mostly I just like all of us being together making wonderful memories for us and the kids. It's just comforting, you know?
I shared this story last year, but it is one of my favorite Christmas memories so I want to share it again. When my son was 7 years old, Christmas was at the height of wonder and magic for him. It was so special being able to relive the magic of Christmas through his eyes. One night we were working on his letter to Santa when he asked me what was on my wish list for Santa when I was a little girl. I told him about some of the toys that I had loved that came from Santa, and then I told him about one gift that I really wanted but never got - an Easy Bake Oven (is that a surprise to anyone that I wanted that?). I don't know why I didn't get it because Santa was always good to us, but for whatever reason, I didn't. In his sweet but curious way, Jake asked if I was naughty that year, and I sort of chuckled and said no, not that year, but sometimes we don't always get everything we want. I then went on about how things don't have to be perfect and you don't have to have everything you want in order to be happy and satisfied with life as it is right now ... you know, that mother-trying-to-teach-a-life-lesson mode that we all get into from time to time. He listened thoughtfully, and then went right back to talking about all the Pokemon characters and cards that he wanted. We finished his Christmas list and mailed it off to Santa and that was that. When Christmas morning came, there under the tree was an Easy Bake Oven with a little gift tag that was written in sweet little boy handwriting that said, "To Mom, From Jake and Santa". I'm telling you, I balled like a baby. And throughout that day, whenever I looked at that oven, I teared up all over again. That is one of the sweetest, most thoughtful gifts I have ever received and I know that came from both my son and husband. It felt exactly like .... love.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year! 2013 is going to be great, I can feel it! :)