Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our Crazy Christmas

The following may not be very interesting - I'm in the mood for chronicling.

I love the family-visiting-tradition DH and I have been cultivating for the last few years. Shortly after we got married, DH's folks moved from Bakersfield (where DH and I went to high school) to San Bernardino County (south of B-town, east of LA). So for the last five years, we fly into Ontario airport and spend some time with his family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, everyone's in SoCal!) There's the annual Christmas Eve party at the grandparents (1st Christmas), then stockings and more gifts on Christmas Day (2nd Christmas). My parents come down on FIL's birthday (day after Christmas) for the birthday party (last year was chocolate tasting and this year we're doing cheese) and then we go back to B-town with them (~3hr drive.) After a 3rd Christmas in B-town, we drive to NorCal to visit my grandparents and other family (~5hr drive.) My grandparents have a vineyard in Suisun Valley (next to Napa Valley) and most of my mom's family is still within an hour of "The Ranch." We'll have a 4th Christmas on the 30th (usually), and then my mom and her twin sister celebrate their birthday on the 31st.

In years past, after the celebrations at The Ranch we'd drive back to B-town for a couple more days, and then make our way back down to DH's folks' house and fly out of Ontario airport. Last year was the first year with LB and we had three weeks to spend with everyone. It was, as usual, lots of fun, but all the driving gets tiresome, especially with a little one. This year, DH is working on his thesis project and didn't feel his advisor would let him take as much time, so we only have two weeks. As we looked at the calendar we realized there was no way we were going to be able to make our usual circuit of California, so we talked with our moms and altered our usual plan a little bit. This year, we flew into Ontario, as usual (well, we would have except for the storm in Las Vegas), but we fly out of Sacramento (about an hour from my grandparents'). Knowing that we don't have nearly so much driving ahead of us lifts a lot of stress. We do have to be sure to take everything with us when we drive up to B-town this time, since we won't be coming back this way.

Every other year, the W Family (MIL's sister, hubby, & 2 kids (15 &19)) fly out to CA from VA (they're the ones we've been spending Thanksgiving with for the past few years.) This is their year to be here, so it's a full house! MIL+FIL+DH+me+LB+SIL+W Family = 10 people in 4 bedrooms, 3 baths. With so many people, there are always multiple things going on, and even when we're all in one room, there are multiple conversations. It's a lot of fun, especially compared to my normal days at home where it's just me and LB. The downside is that there are always things going on, and for introverts like me, it can be a little hard to get downtime to recharge. I was talking about it with DH, and he reminded me that SIL hides in her room and reads. But, I don't have a room to hide in! With the W Family here, DH and I are on the pull out couch in the living room - there's no door, and we're right in the middle of the house! It's also a little frustrating when watching a movie or playing games. It was hard work keeping Monopoly moving the other night with FIL trying to watch the game on TV and play at the same time. We tried watching Wives and Daughters, and the buzzing television notwithstanding, I only caught about 3/4 of what was going on in the movie between FIL's snarkiness and SIL's commentary (FIL was teasing because it's a bit of a chick-flick (Jane Austen style) and it's one of SIL's favorite movies, so she was enjoying sharing it, but couldn't help talking through it). So I'm looking forward to borrowing the movie from SIL and watching it at home where it's much more quiet.

So, what's going on in the next couple days? Well, today (Christmas Eve) is Cousin J's birthday - she's 19. So we had a birthday breakfast of pumpkin waffles, sausage & cheese balls, and fruit salad. At 3:00 we're headed to church for the Christmas Eve service, then straight over to Grandparents' house for the annual Christmas Eve party. We'll have Vince's Spaghetti brought in and open gifts and play games to celebrate with MIL's family. Then tomorrow we open stockings and family gifts and hope to celebrate with FIL's family. On the 26th we celebrate FIL's birthday (53) with as many friends and family as will show up, including my parents and bro (hopefully). This year it's a cheese tasting party. We have 12 different types of cheese from several different categories (semi-soft, hard, moldy, stinky, mild, creamy, etc.) and the resident winos will be sure to have several types of wine to enjoy with the cheese (the winos are MIL's sister Aunt C, my folks (my mom grew up on a vineyard, what do you expect?) and FIL tries.)

Well, thanks for reading through the most boring post ever, if you made it this far. Hopefully I'll have some funny stories or interesting insights to share with you soon.


Laurie said...

Not boring! Interesting, as I know where all those places in CA are.

Have a Merry Christmas, Jennifer!

Jennifer said...

Really? Even Bakersfield??

Merry Christmas to you too, Laurie!