Every Christmas, we travel to go to my side of the family's big Christmas gathering. This year it was at my aunt's and literally 5 minutes from our front door! Now, THAT is the way to travel for Christmas!
We always try to time our arrival to match my cousin's arrival. She is ALWAYS very late but we've gotten to these things on time and been so BORED before she got there. My kids can't wait for her kids to arrive. Rob has no one his age to talk to until her husband arrives. You can see why we wait. This year she arrived about 2 minutes before me (which made us both about an hour late, planned on our part). The older generation enjoys the Brandy Alexanders that my uncle makes in vast quantity while they wait for the delinquent younger generation to arrive. They don't seem to mind too much.
About those Brandy Alexanders... they have been my uncle's trademark at these gatherings for about 30 years. As soon as I was old enough to drink them, I was supposed to join in the fun, but I can't stand the smell of them, so I've never indulged. Now, of course, Rob and I just don't want to drink in front of the kids, so we decline.
Now, for dinner, my uncle brought good wine. Again, I declined, but I said I would like MILK and please hand me a wine glass to put it in. WELL, NO WAY was my uncle letting me do that! He said it would taint the wine glass and no future wine in the glass would taste the same. It might even ETCH the GLASS! He threatened to find me a sippy cup instead! However, he's not much taller than me, so I elbowed my way past him and snatched my glass of choice. Thus began our wildest Christmas dinner ever.
Usually, we eat (late, it's ALWAYS late... food promised at 2 PM... we never actually eat before 4 PM... which probably explains the drinking...). Then we have my aunt's incredible dessert, Plum Duff (a family tradition). There is calm chatting throughout.
NOT SO this year. First we started with the jokes. I seemed to garner most of them... first with the milk, then with my oatmeal bread... being oatmeal, everyone said they would be most regular now (Wow! WHAT a compliment!)... and since Plum Duff is made with prunes, well, you can IMAGINE where the conversation went after that. I would like to point out that there were NO CHILDREN at the table. Oh no. This was ALL ADULT. I know it SEEMS like a 9 year old would have started us down this line of conversation, but no...
Then Matt came into the dining room with his new Nerf blaster 6-shooter... a gift from my uncle. Those two ganged up on us all and turned into sharp shooters! They particularly found aiming and HITTING the --um-- rears of the women doing dishes was a hilarious activity. The various --um-- "sizes" of the targets provided much jocularity and much shrieking! Bad uncle! We kept telling him that Matt is not allowed to aim at PEOPLE without goggles, but he didn't care and Matt LOVED IT. Of course, I thought they were going to collapse laughing when they hit me in the chest with their targeting prowess (although, I believe that was accidental and we won't discuss the size of THAT target). :)
My uncle said it was the best Christmas gift EVER. He's SIXTY-FIVE years old! :) Matt, age 7, was quick to remind my uncle that he GAVE the gift to HIM. :)
Now, here's the best part. When I was 7 years old, my family had just moved to Ohio from California. I was very uncomfortable with my newly met cousins and all the new extended family. My uncle was the one adult who really made my brother and I feel welcome. I remember him chasing us around in various outdoor games and being in awe over his various exploits (like outrunning the mean bull in a neighboring field). Now I got to see him with my own son, making him laugh and feel part of the celebration, and the years fell away.
I love having such a wonderful memory to take away from our family gathering this Christmas. Sometimes weird, but wonderful nonetheless. :)