The story of Christmas is told quite succinctly in The Bible; my re-telling of it, circa 2004, may actually take up considerably more space, and therefore be comprised of more than one entry.
For my family, Christmas has arrived when I give my mother her Christmas pedicure. My mother needs my patented pedicures on a monthly basis of course, because her feet get so calloused and rough they are unrecognizable. In December, I finish off the filing and moisturizing with a festive polish job: white with red and green polkadots. Then it's time to party.
At my own home, Christmas preparation is all about the baking. I've already done a lot of baking throughout the month. Anywhere Jason went, I sent him with a dozen cookies. I made a Christmas tree cake for my sister, and a snowman cake for dessert, and a caramel cheesecake...oh, and another 6 dozen cookies. And it was the cookies that did me in. I was making the icing, when disaster struck: it started with an off-smell, then plumes of smoke and blue sparks started coming out of my mix master. Soon enough, there were flames shooting out of it.
On Christmas Eve I dragged my tired butt over to her house again, and we had a nice dinner all together because Jason had to work on Christmas day. Then Jason and I opened Christmas gifts and got totally spoiled by my mother, which is another of her great traditions (and quite possibly my favourite!). We got games and movies, and a new blender (thank god, one night we were on our 8th batch of daiquiris and ours conked out...we've had to resort to straight rum ever since, and boy...that makes for a very different party).
And then my sister J gives me a gift, and she says "You won't like this. Maybe you should wait and open it in private. I think I was drunk when I bought it."
Which makes me a little apprehensive. But it was actually quite nice: a decorative clock. Well, it does make me feel old. In the good old days, I got Barbies and My Little Ponies for Christmas, and my sisters hand-made me gifts. Decorative clocks make you old.
My mom always said I was odd because when I was little, there would be a staggering amount of gifts for me, I would unwrap each one and set it aside. Then I would go play in the emtpy boxes. It was the boxes that got me going. There was nothing my young imagination could not turn those boxes into...and later, when I was maybe 7, I would get even bigger empty boxes, for fridges and washing machines, and I would cut out windowns and wallpaper them, and set up villages of them in the basement. Now I prefer the boxes to have something in them, and not just because I have become too claustorphobic to get inside a box and think of it as 'fun.' I love presents, I'm just not much good at getting them. For my bridal shower I had to unwrap dozens of presents in front of dozens of people, many of them strangers, so my mom had me practising my reactions for a week before. "How lovely!" "This is just what I wanted!"
Apparently, I don't usually look very excited when I open gifts. Actually, it does make me feel a little awkward...I do appreciate gifts, but I don't do the over-the-top excited thing. I am appreciative in a quieter way. But on Christmas Eve I was all like "Ooooh, cheese knives! Awesome!" Guess how many drinks I'd had? Jason is so much better at this stuff. Last year my mom got us a barbecue, addressed to both of us. Since I was still tender from the second of many surgeries on my back, and hazy due to pain pills, he did the unwrapping. "Oh cool!!" He yelled as he ripped through the paper...but it was several minutes before I could discern what the hell it was. It must have looked like I thought barbecues are stupid. Then my mom was like "hey Jason, ther's a gift here for you that goes with it", and he was all like "What is it, meat?" and it was meat. No meat this year.
Then we were informed that Santa needed the help of several elves. Jason went to my mom's hiding place, across the city, to load her van full of gifts for my sisters. The back door handle broke and the side door was frozen shut, so at 11 pm on Christmas Eve there was a scramble to find a borrowed van, but things worked out and the piles of gifts arrived; among them, new beds for T and Jan, and a dining set for J. The beds needed to be assembled, so Jason and I were not plied with milk and cookies, but with vodka and ham ball, and set to work. When we went home bone-tired at 3 am, I had a blister on my thumb from the damn allen key, but the beds looked fabulous and I knew they would add excitement to Christmas morning (of course, we'll have to go back in a few days to take them apart, move them to the appropriate corners of the house, and reassemble them, but I will try not to pick up my phone then!).
Next up: Christmas day