Christmas came and went yesterday. It was a typical Christ-mas day for our family. They always start out slow and relaxing. The awe and wonderment of waking to a new day knowing Santa has brought gifts and playthings for everyone to enjoy (plastic coated wire ties, doll hair sewn into place, stickers to apply, et al.). Then some time for breakfast and the chance to open presents to and from each other. Christmas music, lights on the tree, and 24 hours of “A Christmas Story“(1) help fill the next couple of hours before the madness sets in. Then, like a snowball rolling downhill, it picks up pace quickly. Growing out of control as the day wears on.
Sweetie and I enjoy the (mixed) blessing of having settled close to both of our families. 360 days a year this is truly a great thing. Need an emergency baby-sitter for a couple of hours? One is usually pretty easy to find. Need someone to drop by unannounced for coffee on a Sunday morning while you’re still dressed in that stretched out sweatshirt with a scalp fully ablaze in bedhead? You can count on it happening. Need help moving that refrigerator? There is always a strong back nearby willing to help. But for those major holiday’s that occur throughout the year (Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, 4th of July, and Flag Day) it brings madness to our lives.
This, of course was the case yesterday as just after noon we all piled into the family truckster and headed off to gather with Sweetie’s side of the family. After a few hours of conversation and admiration of the newest baby added to this family it is time for feast number one of the day. It is a holiday after all and what is a major holiday without a huge meal served. Two kinds of meat, 5 soups to choose from, baked this, stewed that, the options seem to roll on into the next room. Which is where you have to go to find desert because there is no room left in the kitchen for multitude of options available. (But remember Scott, pace yourself here! You’re not 25 anymore. You can’t gorge yourself full here and expect to do it all again in a couple of hours.) After some “good-byes” and “so good to see you again’s” it’s jockeying cars around in the driveway like a used car lot to get us out on the road and off to our next destination.
Thankfully, after making it to my sister’s house to see my side of the family I am glad to hear the ham is behind schedule and dinner will be delayed for at least an hour and a half. Great news for a gastric system already taxed beyond its normal daily intake. (Yes, despite my best efforts at self-control I felt compelled to sample four of the deserts available to choose from at my previous sitting. I mean really, Sweetie’s family makes way better deserts than I knew I would get at my family’s meal.) The adults pass the time visiting while the kids conquer the latest video game. Colors and explosions flashing across the television screen filling the room like a rock concert. In time we are back gathered around a new table now, another meal ready to be consumed. Too full to mess with the dishes we switch immediately to the mayhem of opening more gifts (with more plastic wire ties, stickers and shrink-wrap), all with the good intentions of expressing how much we care for each other.
As the night winds to an end we say our “good-byes” and offer up hugs to those requesting them. And sitting in the cold of the family truckster for the short trip home it occurs to me that throughout the course of this entire day there was not a single word spoken expressing gratitude or thanks to the one person responsible for bringing us all together this way. Lost in the over-consumption of food and commerce was the fact that Christ-mas is, after all, a compound word representing Christ’s Mass.
We came close though. It has become tradition in our family (my side) that as we sit down to eat dinner we ask the kids (three teen boys, one nine-year old girl) to say grace. This being the simple little poem most of you probably know. God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen. However, it seems none of them are familiar with the English language when it comes time to recite such a simple poem. And, as tradition would have it, my mother pipes up and takes care to spit it out so we can move beyond the awkward silence and into the actual consumption of the meal. Who do I see about this???