Growing up in a house of four kids, Christmas was a noisy, chaotic, over-the-top affair. My parents apparently enjoyed spoiling us rotten, as did our extended family, so we generally got so many presents that we had to take a break mid-way through the opening process to eat breakfast. (In fairness, we are the kind of family where you take turns, so it wasn’t just an overabundance of gifts that took time.) When I met “only child T” I was shocked and appalled to learn that his traditions were a family gathering on Christmas eve where they’d open their presents and Christmas was a quiet and peaceful affair.
As a result, we spent many of our early Christmases with my family and kept the craziness rolling. Then we moved across the country from our families and Christmas meant flying. And flying at Christmas sucks. So, we decided to stay home one year. Just the two of us. And, despite my trepidation that it would be boring and sad, it wasn’t. It was glorious. And it was the start of our own family traditions.
When we moved to Portland, it was hard to keep our new family tradition afloat. Now that we lived in the same town as my parents, it was expected that we would jump back into the regular family traditions, so it was a struggle to carve out some autonomy. (Even though the family celebrations have scaled back over the years in terms of presents, they still maintain their noisy, chaotic qualities, especially when additional siblings are present.)
When we moved to Seattle, I decided that we would at least take turns between “the family Christmas” and “our Christmas.” Since last year was the big family one, this year was just us. There are certain traditions that still must be upheld. The Christmas tree lights and music must be turned on and coffee must be made. (But now it’s me doing that and not my grumbling half-asleep father, while we all wait impatiently upstairs… ) And most of our gifts came from Amazon rather than Santa.
Even though the volume was reduced, we still did very well for ourselves. The boy scored some new bike gear, an REI gift card and some fun stuff from my brother:
In addition to some tri books and a running pack, I opened a giant box from T to find one of my bike wheels and this puzzling sign:
T explained that he’d rented me the wheels pictured for my first big race planned for next year, which is super awesome. I’ve talked about renting race wheels before, but when push comes to shove, I usually feel guilty about all the money we’re already spending on the race, so I don’t end up going through with it.
Our boys also got quite spoiled, with THREE new dog toys. (Can you spot the people who can’t make a decision in this picture?) We’d initially gone to our local pet shop to buy their annual Tuffy toy, only to find that the shop was going out of business and the only Tuffy toy they had left was a 3-foot tall Godzilla. T really wanted to buy it, but picturing the destruction Wally would reign down upon us allowed me to hold firm. Instead they got a small barnyard, meet soon to be unidentifiable carcasses Sheep and Pig:
They also got a new throwing/pull toy to chew on. Wally also rampaged around with his favorite toy of all – cardboard. He played himself out and had to take a nap in the wrapping paper:
We concluded our morning with some decadent cinnamon rolls in the memory of my Grandma McIvor:
The rest of the day was spent chatting with family on the phone and lounging, followed by a Christmas dinner at M’s house with her Mom, who was visiting from Virginia. We had real Virginia ham with biscuits, sweet potatoes and green beans, followed by one of J’s excellent apple crisps. No shortage of good food and thankfully no stomach flu to keep me from enjoying it. (Later when I step on the scale, I might think otherwise… )
Happy holidays y’all!