We’ve had the same holiday routine since practically 1845. OK, maybe not quite that long, but close.
I usually fly in around Dec. 15, mainly because a) I work from home and my computer is just as functional in Tennessee as it is in California and b) I want to avoid the bulk of holiday travel traffic. (Also, because Mom, Kari and I took a whirlwind trip down to Orlando to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but more on that another day.) The following week is filled with present wrapping (me), napping (Mom) and watching movies galore (all of us). In fact, this is pretty representative of how we look the majority of time we’re in Tullahoma:
Four days before Christmas, my sister always has a party for her friends. Three days prior used to be my night, but none of my friends come back home for Christmas anymore—in-laws, babies, living 10,000 miles away in Japan, the like—so we replaced my party with Garth this year. Two days before is my mom’s “stitch ‘n bitch” party, which the same group of couples have been attending since I was a wee munchkin. This year, that included a book signing (my first! ha), as Mom gave them all copies of my new book in lieu of their regular gifts. Lucky them. My granddad told SVV that one thing he’d have to get used to being a frequent visitor to the South is all the parties. I’d have to say I agree: There’s one thing my hometown does particularly well, and that’s throw a festive shindig and drink copious amounts of George Dickel.
Christmas Eve, however, is always my favorite. We lounge around all day—some years baking, this time just being lazy and not putting on real clothes until 5pm—then head to church early evening for the Christmas Eve service at King’s Cross Church. After that, we go to my parent’s friends’ Linda and Busch’s house for a party, then to our former neighbors’ Beverley and Joe’s house to visit with their family. Then it’s back home for a viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life (and, I’ll be honest, this year the finale of The Sing-Off) before it’s time for bed.
The big difference this year from previous Christmases was that we woke up to this:
Granted it’s more a dusting of dandruff than an actual snow, but I’ll take it any way I can get it. It was my first White Christmas, after all, in nearly 28 years!
On Christmas morning, we get up around 9am, shower, then descend downstairs where we start off by opening stockings.
Or rather, first we come downstairs and Mom makes us take the same Christmas morning photo on the stairs that we’ve done since I was born. Kari and I always had a new set of matching Christmas pajamas each year, so Mom decided to reinstate that trend this year. SVV was a good sport about it, though I’m sure that smile is just a ruse.
When we went to see what Santa had left in our stockings, we found that one family member really racked up this year: Ella! Granted she shared a stocking with her mom, Katey, but have you ever seen a dog with a bigger loot than this? Santa had to leave half of her gifts on the bannister, as the stocking wouldn’t hold them all!
After stockings, we eat breakfast and then return to the living room for the piece de la resistance: presents! My family goes all out on Christmas, and SVV and I walked away with quite a bounty. Fancy new Bluetooth headsets so we stop getting cell phone tickets, clothes and a top-end Moxi DVR for both of us; more clothes, books, gift cards, cash and rain boots for me; flying lessons, golf shirts, a puffy jacket and a new putter for him.
Speaking of which, it’s nice that our small family is slowly growing, from a party of five to a party of seven (plus six dogs), thanks to the addition of SVV in 2005 and the newest member, Richard, as of this past year. He drove nine hours from Virginia in the snow on Christmas day to make it to our home just past midnight.
And let’s not forget this little girl and her first Christmas!
After we’ve done all the unwrapping our hands were capable of and settle into a candy-induced stupor, we retreat to the bonus room to watch Elf and Love Actually until our next-door neighbors—our “other family” for 25 years now, the Bratchers—call, at which point we cross the lawn to their house to celebrate with them. This extended family of sorts has also grown, from just the four of us “kids”—Kari, me, Jimmy and Diana…
…to a full-on posse.
And this year, Santa even dropped by to pay us all a visit!
Our holidays aren’t over yet either, as we’re leaving tomorrow night for Memphis to see my cousin’s new baby, Margaret, and celebrate with my mom’s side of the family. I love it: a holiday that just keeps on giving!
How about the lot of you? What are your traditions? Do you, like us, do things in the exact same order, the exact same way, year after year?
Some further snapshots of our weekend:
In a turn of cinematic excellence, K-Oz reprising the role of Max the Dog in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
A boy Maltese in a skirt or Superdog? You decide.
Ella in an elf tutu.
The Littlest Angel.
Showing one of my adopted nieces, Katelyn, how to work a camera.
Katelyn modeling her Christmas present from us (the panda hat) while pushing around Big and Lil Minnie in her baby stroller.
Mason the Speedster racing around the house via his new Christmas wheels.
Fresh out of the oven: my other “niece,” Jacy Kate.