Friday, December 24, 2010

Traditions

Meatballs in the crockpot.
Lasagna in the oven.
Presents are wrapped.
Showered, dressed and lookin' festive.

I'm about leave for the evening - we always spend Christmas Eve at my Gram's house. Enjoy this post from way back in July - I wrote it using the prompt "traditional" for The Sunday Creative.

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope it's a merry one! For those of you who don't - here's a virtual hug and my wishes for a beautiful Friday night!

My Grandparents live in a small house in NH. Stepping into their house is like a trip through time. The furniture and decorations have been the same since the 60's - and I would have it no other way.

We arrive first, usually. Grammy is in the kitchen, Grampy is doing a word search in his chair - TV up a little too loud. Frank Sinatra sings Christmas carols in the living room. There are lots of hugs. We put our gifts under the tree, my brother and I want to check out the ornaments. Grammy and Grampy's tree has colored lights, which we love - the tree at our house has white lights. The tree is small, because Grammy's small. It's perfectly decorated with ornaments from the 60's. Her ornaments are fancy because there are no little kids running around to break them.

When our Aunt, Uncle and Cousin arrive the party is complete... we have a very small family. We all visit with each other over a simple dinner.

Soon after, we gather in the living room. We bring a chair in for Grampy. Uncle Dick sits on a chair next to him. Dad and Auntie Jan sit on the couch. Mom sits in the arm chair by the fireplace. Jared and I sit together in front of the fireplace, and Candi sits opposite us. Grammy is the master of ceremonies. We take our time opening gifts - admiring what each person has given, and received. Candi and I always get the same gifts, but hers is red and mine is pink. When someone opens something, they immediately go to the person who gave it, give them a hug and kiss, and say thank-you. There is lots of love and laughter, and Frank is still singing in the background.

After the gifts have been opened, Jared, Candi and I are playing with our new toys. Life is perfect. It's Christmas Eve, and the excitement for the coming morning has been heightened by the festivities that night.

Eventually, it's time to go we pack up the car. We listen to the radio station that does 24/7 Christmas music on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We count how many houses have outdoor lights. We are wide awake and excited! Driving home feels like driving through a fictional world filled with brightly decorated gingerbread houses.

We put on our new pj's - courtesy of Grammy. We leave milk and cookies for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. Dad reads "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and we go to bed.

Time has evolved us. Dennis is there. Jared brings his wife, Katie. Candi is in Rhode Island with her husband. Grampy is gone. All these life changes have occurred, but there is so much that is still the same. We all sit in the same spots - Katie sits where Candi used to, and Dennis sits behind me. Now it's Katie and I opening our gifts carefully so as not to spoil any surprises - they're the same, hers is purple and mine is still pink.

There are more cars in the driveway. We have wine instead of milk. The menu has become more eclectic since we all offer to bring some "fun" dish to share. At the end of the night we all get in separate cars, and drive in different directions.

At some point, though - I stop and look around. Christmas Eve is still my favorite part of the holiday. At some point in the evening there are a few moments when I get that bubbly feeling in my chest. When I was a little girl it lasted all night. Now it's only for a few moments. When I was a little girl it was excitement for the toys and Santa. Now it's the excitement of having my family close, and the realization that I'm lucky beyond belief that I am 30 years old and my Grammy is still passing out gifts.


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