up until Christmas Eve Day: pretty much ignore each other.
Christmas Eve Day: dad's side of the family gets together at Uncle Rob's (more on him later) in Albany. This is the really dysfunctional portion of my heritage, but they're a more...how can I say...a more festive brand of crazy. Un-PC jokes that nobody wants to laugh at, screaming derelict children running around breaking things, a pilot/race car driver who looks like Santa and thinks he knows everything (and needs to tell you about it), a black-leather-wearin/Harley-ridin grandma, and a massive golden retriever named Budweiser who could take you out with one swipe of his tail. That about covers it. Expect a play-by-play in a later post.
Christmas Day: normally we go to Monroe to meet mom's side of the family. It's a lot quieter than my dad's side. Generally we get there, eat a huge meal, then my dad, my sister and I, and our three cousins make a run for the couch and pile on for a nap. Soon it is time to open presents, but we have to go from youngest to oldest, opening one present and then watching everyone else open one until it's your turn again. My dad is covertly opening his presents under the table because he can't wait for his turn, and my cousin Jessica is making 'shoot me now' gestures on the other side of the room. When we're done (what seems like 4 hours later), Uncle Whayne sets up a projector to show us a slide show of birds.
But not this year.
This year we have taken matters into our own hands. Courtney and I are cooking Christmas dinner, so everything is on our turf. Reasons for taking over? Little things. But they build up. For example, when grandma is hosting, you never get to actually eat, because as soon as some food is on your plate, she is sending the turkey around the table again. And the potatoes. And the beans...so you're always passing and all you can do is drool at the first helping that is sitting on your plate, but you can't eat it because you're passing around dishes that everyone already has on their plates. Or because Christmas dinner should not require a seating chart, especially one that puts the prodigal cousin in the corner as punishment for not coming home last Christmas. Or making everyone go around the table and tell everyone what they're thankful for. Or the whole taking turns thing, when opening presents.
None of that this year. We are whipping up some amazing food, and serving it up buffet style. That means everyone can take as much as they want, and if they need more, they can get off their ass and get it, instead of everyone else taking pause from their face-stuffing to pass things. And you know what else? Everyone can sit where they damn well please. Plus we don't have a room big enough to fit everyone in it, so everyone has the option of escaping to the sunroom or living room.
So that's the story. Stay tuned.