[I know that this posting is longer than "War and Peace",
AND there is another installment to follow.
I am unable to write short!!
I am unable to write short!!
Please come on back to get to the happy ending!
I'll try to finish up tomorrow. Thanks!]
Have you ever said to someone, "I have never (or will never) do [such and such."]? It is either said or implied that [such and such] is totally outside the realm of possibility. Well, I'm here to tell you, uttering those words is the kiss of death! Whatever you are saying wouldn't, couldn't, or didn't ever happen immediately WILL happen. There's a reason they say, "Never say never!"
The day before Christmas Eve, I was talking with someone about family Christmas traditions, and told him that I had never in my life opened my Christmas presents on Christmas morning or at any time other than on Christmas Eve. Never ever! Period. Full stop.
It was the tradition in my mother's family. They were German and that's how the German Catholics started their Christmas celebration. In short, the fun stuff (the tree, Santa Claus -- known as either Christkind or Weihnachtsmann, and the opening of presents all occurs on Christmas Eve. The religious part (celebrating the birth of Jesus) takes place on Christmas Day. And that is how we have done it every Christmas of my life....all 64 of them! I had no reason to expect anything different this year.
Unfortunately, the Christmas gremlins must have overheard my conversation. They chucked their nasty little tricks into the mix and things did not quite go according to plan. I'm sure they were laughing the whole time! Miserable little spoilsports!!
As always the Big Guy and I worked like demons the last couple of days before Christmas Eve to get everything wrapped, all the Christmas decor up and pretty, all of my Christmas plates and serving pieces washed and set out, the food shopped for and ready to serve, the tree completely decorated, floors vacuumed, last minute pick-up, etc. etc. Ratchlet and her family were due at about 5:30 and she called at 5:20 to say that they would be a little late due to traffic and an accident on the roadway. I was just finishing putting on my make-up at 5:20 when she called. So we actually made the deadline with a few minutes to spare! Yay! I was very pleased.
A new element had been added to our family very recently. Ratchlet, TA and M-t-G had just acquired a new dog! She is a Llasa Apso named Dora. In retrospect everyone agrees that the timing probably wasn't the best. Nevertheless, we were looking forward to meeting the new dog and had told Ratchlet it was fine to bring the dog along! Nothing like a dog to liven things up and bring laughter and joy!
I got a funny feeling we might be in trouble as soon as they arrived around 6:00 pm. M-t-G came in the door carrying an enormous shopping bag that contained a lot of smaller presents. Evidently it was quite heavy for as soon as she put it down, she threw herself face down on a chair and dramatically moaned a long mournful moan. Good Grief! I asked what was wrong. "Headache" as she moaned some more.
Ratchlet came in a few seconds later also carrying a bunch of things. Her face looked all scrunched up and painful. "What's the matter?" asked I. "The weather changed today so as always, I got a Migraine!" Uh-oh! I asked if she had taken her migraine meds and she said she had, but all they do is take the edge off a bit. It's because of the humidity and air pressure changes. Swell, nothing I can do to change that!
As far as I could tell, the new dog was no where in sight, "Puppy problem already???" I asked. No, they decided to let the dog stay at home because it seemed like a good idea to just let her settle in to her new home. OK, that made sense!
TA came up the rear also carrying stuff. (Ummm, have I ever mentioned we really have a lot of presents at Christmas?? I mean a LOT of presents. We do!) He looked a little peaked and I asked, "How are you? "Sore Throat", he replied..... Great! Three for Three! They ALL looked miserable.
Before they got too far into removing coats and settling in. I asked if they were sure they wanted to do this tonight. Santa hadn't come yet, the food could easily be wrapped up and saved for the next day, we could just postpone. I think Ratchlet was a bit tempted (she was worried about leaving the dog), but M-t-G was dead set against leaving. "But it's Christmas!" she wailed (after all, she's only 9.) TA said, "It's just a sore throat." (He's not 9, but he is a guy! They tough it out!) So the consensus was on with the show! Oh Goodie!!
As is our custom we decided that we would eat first, then go to show Maddie some of the great decorations in the neighborhood, then when we came back Santa would have arrived and we would proceed with opening the presents. M-t-G wasn't too thrilled with having to wait and said she wasn't hungry. I asked her if we let her have one present to open would she then come and eat without complaint until we were all done? She agreed (she is only 9 after all). We all agreed it was a plan and so we proceeded. It turned out that we each opened one gift and then went in to eat. (I guess we're all 9 at heart!)
Now this is not a new plan. We have followed the same pattern ever since M-t-G was old enough to understand about Santa! It is essentially the same pattern that was followed in my family for my whole life. Even the foods served didn't vary by much each year. Nevertheless, we all sort of pretend it never happened that way before, I don't know why exactly. I think it has a lot to do with preserving the illusion of Santa's arrival. (In anticipation of presents, Maddie's questioning of the reality of Santa had disappeared by the time actual Christmas Eve had arrived. She is only 9 after all!)
The Christmas Eve food is always a "nibblies" buffet sort of thing....several different cheeses, cubed sausage, sliced roast beef and ham for mini-sandwiches, pickles, olives, dips, crackers, watermelon pickles (when I can find them!), Chicken-in-a-Bisquit crackers which are not eaten at any other time of the year. (traditional because Ratchlet loved them when she was a child. I think she has two or three each year...but they've GOT to be there!), sometimes veggie sticks, sometimes cole slaw or potato salad, sometimes something new we've never tried. Each year it's mostly the same, but it's never exactly the same. It's tradition.
(Sounds like I should be humming "Tradition" from "Fiddler on the Roof" while I write this!)
But I digress!
While the rest of us were setting out the food (because of it's nature, most of it can't be set up too soon or it will dry out, spoil, get yucky, etc.). Anyway, while we were doing that Ratchlet gave M-t-G a Tylenol and asked her to help put things out. Maddie "helped" for about 15 seconds (she is only 9 after all!) and then she went to lie down on the sofa with her arms over her eyes till she was called to eat.
We filled our plates and adjourned to the table to enjoy the bounty. Things were going along swimmingly for about 15 minutes, when suddenly T.A. began to feel unwell. The "bounty" wasn't agreeing with him at all. Now in addition to the sore throat, he had an upset stomach. He left the table to go lie down on the same sofa that Maddie had just vacated. M-t-G just nibbled at her food (no joke intended!). Ratchlet still had a scrunched up, pinched look, meaning her head still hurt. Not a good sign....nope, not going well at all! None of them were seriously ill, so I wasn't actually worried, but it was kind of a downer, ya know?
So once again I told them they should just go home and we would have our Christmas the next day. Ratchlet was worried about TA, the new dog, and she still had the migraine. TA had fallen asleep on the sofa. M-t-G was disappointed but she had at least one gift, so she didn't seemed all that upset at the prospect. So they decided (actually Ratchlet decided) it would be better all around for them to go home. The Big Guy and I were supportive of that decision. They were all either sick, cranky, or worried....not the best of moods for Christmas anyway!
As TA was still sleeping, Ratchlet helped us put away the food that was left. There was just one more thing to do before they could leave. Every year since Ratchlet was born, I have given her a Christmas outfit on Christmas Eve. After M-t-G came along, she got one too. Frequently they are then actually able to wear something new on Christmas Day. So before they could pack up and go, Ratchlet and M-t-G opened their Christmas outfit presents, which were a hit. Yay, something was going right!
As they started to gather up their stuff that was ready to go home, we started talking about plans for Christmas - Part 2. We realized that the next day was Christmas Day and we were committed to dinner and such at TA's mom's house. We knew we wouldn't be home early enough to have our Christmas that evening. Sooooo, we agreed to put off Christmas - Part 3 to Sunday evening. Ratchlet had a work commitment earlier in the day, so she asked if we would be willing to pack up the rest of the presents plus whatever Santa brought and bring it all down to their house just to simplify their schedules. The Big Guy readily agreed on our behalf. I wasn't thrilled with that idea, but these were turning into extraordinary circumstances.
So finally they were ready to go and our Christmas was officially postponed. M-t-G was not happy about leaving all the rest of her presents at our house. I promised to bring all the things from Santa and all the other presents to her house on Sunday evening without fail. She sort of accepted that but there were a few tears shed. (What did we expect? She is just 9 years old!)
As Ratchlet came to give us a hug goodbye, I realized she had tears also! Oh no!! Was everybody going to cry?? They were sick. They weren't having a good time! No need to cry!! Well, they managed to bring the tears under control and went back from whence they came.
As we watched them drive away, I turned to Mikey and said, "Well, that was fun." I looked at the time and saw it was just 8:00 pm. Christmas Eve had lasted all of 2 hours! We had madly cleaned and decorated and wrapped and all the rest for a 2 hour Christmas!
I went around and straightened up a bit. I realized that the Big Guy was going around blowing out all the candles. "Hey, wait a minute. It's still Christmas for us!! Don't blow out the candles." So he stopped, but then went to "his" chair and turned on the TV, and plopped himself down. Although there were presents to each other, opening them was not considered. I went to play computer games like always. I guess Christmas - Part 1 was over!
To be continued . . . .