Our Christmas routine is the same every year. And we like it that way...
As always, Christmas Eve begins with M. heading off to work. He'll keep the store open till about two o'clock. Meanwhile I'll be at home packing and counting down the hours. He'll come home and walk the dogs and take his lolly-gagging time getting ready to go. Then we hit the road. I'm praying that we're gone by 3:30 p.m. We head to the Popi's family Christmas celebration. This is a raucous gathering. This year it's at Noni & Popi's house. There will be about 20 of us tonight. Grandmother, three aunts, three uncles, cousin and husband and step-daughter, brother and wife and three kids, and then my little family. And lots of food and lots and lots of presents. My uncle, who loves to cook and bake (used to own a bakery) always brings a tremendous selection of cookies. Man I love Christmas Eve! When it comes time to open presents the volume level goes through the roof, with people trying to out-exclaim each other and yell their thanks as they find out what they got.
After everyone leaves we'll have my family, my brother's family and Noni and Popi left. After putting out their cookies for Santa (which they've already set aside from Cookie Day) the kids will go to bed and we'll invite Santa in to do his thing. Often by this point SIL is dead to the world so I get to help Santa along. Of course this year I have my own business to tend to. Finally around midnight or so, we fall into bed exhausted.
Christmas morning the requirement is that everyone has to be up and ready before anyone can go downstairs to see what Santa brought. Kids must brush their teeth and comb their hair. A few grown-ups take cameras downstairs and prepare to catch the kids coming down the stairs and spotting their loot. The kids will come down and we'll give them some time to explore their Santa piles. Then we tackle the presents under the tree. The last couple of years we've managed to open gifts one at a time. I love that because I get to see what everyone gets and I get to see people receive the gifts I chose for them. Of course the kids chafe at this, but it stretches Christmas morning out nicely. Finally, after all the gifts are open we take down our stockings and explore them. Finally, we clean up and thoughts turn toward breakfast. M. and I slowly pack up our stuff and usually we hit the road by 1:00 p.m.
We head to his Mom's for Christmas. Another round of gift opening and a big meal. I imagine this year we'll be having the ham my parents gave his parents. It used to be M.'s mom and dad and brother, his sister and her family, and us. Last year FIL died and SIL decided to go to Christmas with her new husband's family. So the Christmas afternoon gathering is much smaller and sadder now.
Finally, around late afternoon or early evening, we head home. We unpack all of the stuff we've accumulated on our whirlwind tour. Then we settle in for our Christmas. I put on my favorite Christmas CDs and we exchange our presents and our stockings. When this is all done I usually try to put my house in some order so I'm not overwhelmed when I wake up in the morning. I break down gift boxes and pack them away. I put all the new clothes on the washing machine (we pre-wash before wearing). And then we make an artful arrangement of our gifts under the tree. This is a tradition of Noni's, she's good at the artful gift arrangement. Unfortunately this year we may need to skip that part. If it's unwise to put wrapped presents under the tree because of Emma, then I can't imagine it's much better to put unwrapped presents there.
In the past, the day after Christmas was our day of recovery. M. only gets off Christmas and the day after so we'd usually do more tidying up and perhaps assemble gifts. It was a leisure day. Last year we invited Noni and Popi over to hang out with us. Then we ended up having drop-ins from M. sister's family and some friends. This year we've invited over Noni and Popi and brother's family. Which will be a houseful. Then just a day or so ago M. announced that he figured his sister's family will stop by too. Ack! Add two obnoxious dogs and that's more than a houseful. I'm trying not to dwell on it. Thinking happy thoughts...