After decades of Christmas perfection, little tremors needled away at our family tree structure creating (gulp) change. The Thanksgiving after Paul and I got married, Uncle Harold passed away. A few years after that my grandpa passed away. My brothers grew up and moved away, with the exception of my autistic brother Matt. I started to have children of my own. Grandma struggled more and more as she aged with doing all of the cooking, cleaning, and decorating involved in having a family Christmas party. We tried to help her as much as we could. Then one year it all ended. My grandma had open heart surgery the summer that I had my third child. It was at this time that my grandma handed the Thanksgiving and Christmas baton to me.
At the time, we were having my in-laws over every Christmas Eve. Year after year it was pretty much the same. My in-laws would show up 2 to 3 hours late. The table would be set. The food would be cold. The kids would eat supper at bedtime. The kids were tired and hungry which made them very crabby. They would cry and have meltdowns. This upset my mother-in-law which resulted in an argument between her and my husband over her being late. At this point, Paul’s stepdad and I would look at each other across the table with a knowing look that said “here we go again”. One of two things either happened. Paul’s mother would disown him and take off for awhile. Or Paul’s mom would scream at my husband and he would kick her out of the house. Eventually she would come back in both scenarios, the gifts were opened, and the kids would go to bed.
After receiving the Christmas baton, Paul and I did what most reasonable people do. We combined our families to make one big happy family Christmas. Insert thoughts of the National Lampoon’s Christmas here. It did go pretty good for quite awhile. Whoever showed up, showed up. We ate at 1:00 PM. If you were late, there were leftovers. Things went pretty well, although after awhile it seemed that my mom and mother-in-law started an unspoken “best grandma” competition. My mom won that one hands down because she could afford nicer gifts and spent more time with the kids. Then my in-laws started to find excuses not to come for Christmas. Either someone was sick, or my personal favorite was that Paul’s stepdad scheduled a colonoscopy the day after Christmas. Priceless.
Oh family, you bring laughter and tears but we love you anyway.
Then a couple of years ago, Luke and his family bought a house that was bigger than mine. I handed him the Christmas baton. All problems solved.