So I pause for a moment of reflection on the now-deceased holiday. . .
We actually had a really good one. =)
Spawn came to see us on the 21st, which was great, because this wasn't actually "our year" to have him. But, as he is now 16, he can go where he pleases. (And does, I imagine, with some degree of delight.)
So he got here, and we were very happy about that. A 16 year old in the house is a very strange thing for me. I'm just not used to it. It's VE-E-E-R-Y different from my norm of a toddler or a 5 year old. No telling him what to do, no reminding him to flush the toilet, no pleading with him not to jump on the furniture, and an added bonus of the ability to have an ACTUAL conversation. It's wild. Were it not for the fact that I would be in bed for a month, sobbing uncontrollably that "my baby's a MAN!", I'd wish Nolan were that age right now. But I'm really looking forward to all of his firsts, so I'm just going to wait this one out. =)
So the next night we went to my Uncle's house for a Christmas get-together with my mom's side of the family. It was great. Nothing to do but show up, visit, and eat tons and tons of unbelievably well-prepared food. (One thing about my mom's family: They. Can. COOK. For REAL. And I mean "They can cook" like "They make Paula Deen look like a clueless diner fry-cook with runny eggs." Their get-togethers are always phenomenal. And I always leave bloated.)
It was truly great to see all my cousins, my brother and sister-in-law, and all the kiddos. It was MEANT to be a "NO GIFTS" kind of get-together, but, as Michael and I were not going to be able to make my mom's Christmas celebration on Christmas day, we had to bring our gifts for the nephews and nieces that night. So after everyone ate, we tried to sneak downstairs and quietly give our gifts to the little ones in a very sneaky little super-spy fashion. And then. . . it happened.
I am not exaggerating at ALL when I tell you that it was at this moment that my GREATEST Christmas nightmare came true, right in my face, and in vivid, living color.
One of my kind and beautiful cousins, who I never actually see throughout the year (ever), but wish that I saw more of, walked up to me and handed me a gift. "It isn't much," she said sweetly. Then she smiled and hugged my neck.
I choked. I hugged her back. Choked out "You shouldn't have", or something like that, and sat back down. And then I concentrated, very, VERY hard, on not crying.
Because she is a single mom. She has TWO children. And I did not have a single thing for either one of them.
Now I could rationalize this by saying that we have never, once, in our entire lives exchanged gifts for our children. I could also add that I honestly did not know that she was even going to BE there, because she ISN'T always. I could add a DOZEN more things. . . but all that really matters is that she was thoughtful and kind enough to get a gift for Tookie, and her son and her daughter got absolutely NOTHING from me.
I managed to hold back my tears until we got into the car to leave. Then I just bawled until we got home.
And at this point, I'm just seriously pissed at myself for letting my karma this get outtawhack.
I will find a resolution.
A couple more peaceful days at home with Michael, Took, and Spawn, and it was Christmas Eve. And Christmas Eve is the night that I have, all my life, gone to my Daddy's for Christmas with HIS family. Ah, tradition. =) So I loaded my plump toddler in the car, and headed to Dad's house, leaving Spawn at home, as I had informed him that it was his choice to go or stay home, but that we would probably be late getting back. So we got to Dad's, changed cars, then headed to my cousin's house, still another half hour away. I believe we were the last to arrive.
And Took was NOT in a "festive" sort of mood.
So we ate, we visited, we chatted, and we enjoyed ourselves. And, about the time my Aunt Brenda decided to drag my baby over to the tree and FORCE him to start opening his presents, he finally decided to warm up and come out of his shell. A Tickle Me Elmo? AND he dances and plays the drums??? How DELIGHTFUL!! I believe I, too, shall dance! And at one point during his unwrapping session, I turned around to see my ENTIRE family, gathered around in chairs, doing NOTHING but sitting there and watching my boy unwrap his gifts and giggle and act a clown.
He IS the first baby in the family in over 20 years.
Still, it's funny. =)
And, that brings us to Christmas morning. Which for me, this year, was an exercise in RESTRAINT.
You see, Michael had to work on Christmas day this year. He had to be there at 5:00, work till 5:00, and pick up Devin before finally coming home. Soooo. . . Christmas morning I woke up at 8:45.
Yes. You read that right. The baby slept until almost 9:00.
That was probably one of the BEST Christmas gifts that I received. =)
But wake up we did, and got breakfast and turned on all the Christmas lights. Then my mom came over with a breakfast casserole (which I REALLY didn't think I was going to like, or even find REMOTELY edible, but which turned out to be AWESOME. I LOVE when I am wrong in exactly this way. I really hope it happens a lot more.), and we ate and talked and let the baby and Spawn open up their gifts from them. (Michael didn't want anything else unwrapped yet. Didn't want to miss anything. Which I COMPLETELY understand, but CRAP. Kind of tied my hands a little there, hon.)
Later, I set about making peppermint bark. I thought this would be a great way to occupy my time while I waited on Mr. to get home and the Christmas celebration to begin.
So I gathered my ingredients. Uh-oh. No peppermint extract. Buuut. . . we had cherry. ??? That's probably just as good, right? La-di-da. . . Melt the chocolate. . . It was JUST right!! Aaaaand add the cherry flavoring, and ---- holy shit-bells.
Science just happened in my kitchen, and suddenly my white chocolate was as hard as ceramic.
(I HATE science when it is in direct opposition to candy. HATE IT!!)
So I tried to melt it down again. Nope. Added some shortening. (Which is what my mom said you should do, and SHE KNOWS.) No change at all. And I would be damned if I was throwing out perfectly good white chocolate.
So I took the stiff, lumpy junk out of the bowl, spread it out in the pan, and practically BEAT it down flat. Then I sprinkled it with broken up candy canes. But it was so hard that they just laid on top of it. So I beat that down into it, too.
And it was ugly. Hideous, really. But completely delicious.
So I pretended that I did it on purpose, and that is how Confetti Candy was born.
Then Michael called and told me his parents were on their way over. They weren't supposed to come over until that night. But this was Alabama, and even on Christmas day there was the threat of tornadoes. So we gladly lit a few candles, and had a nice visit.
Then finally, FINALLY, at almost 6:00 that night, Michael got home, with Padawan in tow, and we had our Christmas.
And it was great. =)
Spawn got a lava lamp, Michael got a pizza stone, I got a Clarisonic, Tookie got a Mr. Potato Head, and Padawan got threatened that we were going to take EVERYTHING back if he didn't at least PRETEND to be grateful.
Your basic family Christmas. =)
The next day was Pad's birthday. The big Numero 6, and we celebrated by having yet ANOTHER Christmas with first my Dad that morning, and my Mom that night. Spawn went home, another threat to Pad to get his ass downstairs and say goodbye, and things settled back into a more or less normal pace.
The next morning I woke up feeling positively WRETCHED. Scared. Out of sorts. Dizzy.
Walked out of the bedroom and evidences of Christmas were still all OVER the place. Toys were everywhere.
The house was positively CRAWLING with crap.
And I . . . I just lost it.
My face was tingling. I couldn't breathe. I ran out to the garage and grabbed the first Rubbermaid container I saw. Back into the kitchen and I started snatching down ribbons and Gingerbread man pot-holders and dangling ornaments as fast as I could and tossing them in the bin. COMPLETELY and utterly panicked.
It had to go. Had to go. Had to BE GONE. Now. Now. NOW.
(I think I scared Michael.)
"STOP! Stop. We're not going to just THROW all our Christmas stuff into a container because YOU'RE freaking out! Now go lay down in the bed."
(I have cleaned that last sentence up a LOT. Taken out the expletives. Personally, I don't MIND expletives. I think they add literary flavor. But some tend to get squeamish with them, so I don't use them NEARLY as liberally as I would like. God, I hate compromise.)
Truth is, I don't know WHY I freaked out.
I just did.
I just felt like I couldn't breathe.
Suddenly I just felt claustrophobic, and I was trying to fix it. And I'm pretty sure my husband now thinks I am a certifiable basket case.
So this is my cozy little life.
I adore the HELL out of it. =)
But, as with almost everything, it is one step forward, one step back.
But I'm not complaining.
Because for all those times when I'm going neither forward NOR back. . .
I'm twirling MADLY around in circles, dizzy and giggling as the world spins around me.
Hold onto your hats out there, people.