Christmas was nice.
Traveled home last Thursday night to spend several days with The Family. As expected, my parents' house is overdecorated, overcrowded, and over, uh, junk . . . food . . . ed. And I can't think of another place I'd rather be. Back home is a place full of food, love, and laughs.
Mom had an open house on the Saturday before Christmas, and I think at one point, there were 50 people in her house. She said there were more there that day than on Thanksgiving - the main reason I don't go home for that holiday. When you're used to living practically alone and your social life revolves around just a few people, it's difficult to suddenly be surrounded by a large group of people, even if they are family: it never gets quiet, even for a split second, and everyone is just a tad bit more hyper than usual.
On Sunday, my brother, sister and I went to my Aunt & Uncle's house - the ones who've been hosting Christmas Day dinner for the past 40+ years. They celebrated their 60th Wedding Anniversary on Christmas Eve - 60 years! I can't even imagine being alive that long, let alone being married to someone that long. Since they are both in their 80s now, prepping for a houseful of people is taking its toll on them, so a few of us showed up to help clean the house, cut up vegetables, basically anything they needed help doing. Mostly they just liked the company, and its good to spend time with them.
Christmas Eve I had dinner with my BFF, Jeff. Even though his house looks like Hallmark threw up on his lawn and Macy's had diarrhea in his dining room, he's still good company after all these years. We've been best friends for the past 20 years, and even though we now live in different time zones, we are still close enough to discuss his sexual escapades over a Cobb salad. Nothing says Christmas like a discussion about sex gas. Oh yeah, then I went to church.
On Christmas Day, my folks and I went to my youngest brother's house to watch his daughters open presents. He then ended up cooking a pretty kickass breakfast for everyone: homemade waffles, sausage, bacon, biscuits, and an egg dish that is a tradition in my family. I'm not even sure how to spell it - phonetically it sounds like "ash-maa". The recipe was passed down through German ancestors. Basically, it's egg gravy with bacon and sausage pieces poured over toast. Its probably more like "clogged arteries on toast" but it sure is good. And we only eat it on special occasions. After breakfast, my nieces taught me to play Guitar Hero II on their Xbox 360. Once I put on my youngest niece's new Hannah Montana wig - I was a hit.
The rest of the day was spent at my Aunt & Uncle's house. One of their grandsons had taken all of my Aunt's old home movies that she's been chronicling for the past 50 years and put them on DVD. So we sat and watched ourselves during the summer of '66, Christmas '88, Thanksgiving '59, relatives visiting from California in '72, loved ones who have long since passed, grandmothers who were children. There was an unspoken knowledge that this was the last Christmas we would be doing this - all gathering together in one place. With my Aunt and Uncle getting older and preparation getting harder for them, there's been a realization that a day like today probably won't continue. My parents host Thanksgiving, so I doubt they would take this day on too, even if they wanted to.
Christmas night is when my family trades gifts. My parents have a history of getting me the most bizarre presents and this year was no exception. My dad gave me a coin counter. The only coins I ever use are quarters for laundry, so not too sure what I will be doing with this contraption. Mom gave me handkerchiefs because she said, "No man should ever leave the house without a handkerchief in his pocket" -- perhaps, I think, if the man was 70 or this was 1940. However I did actually get what I asked for: the deluxe George Foreman Grill. It was too big to bring back on the plane so the folks are going to mail it to me next week. Aces!
Even though I had been home for about 6 days, I felt like I wasn't really ready to leave when the time came. It was nice to be around everyone, but I felt like I didn't really get a chance to visit with my parents because there was always something going on around us. I really like the one on two time I spend with them when no one else is around and I didn't get that this time. But all my feelings of homesickness faded when I met up with The BF at the airport so we could fly home together. We managed to score a row just for ourselves on an otherwise crowded flight (and the Exit Row to boot). It was good being with him after a week. After all, he is my home now.
Merry Christmas, everyone. And Happy New Year!