This coming Sunday is our "Family Christmas". The time when all the slightly twisted members of my maternal side get together to have a little fun. Should be even more fun than last year as there were 5 weddings in the family this year. At least 2 of the new brides have NEVER been to a gathering with just us maniacs. If I had it in me, I'd warn them...but it will be way more fun to sit back and watch the horror on their faces as they realize that they voluntarily entered into this insanity. I was born to it, not that I would chose any other way, but they married it!!
So as I wrap one practical gift (homemade instant potato soup mix...just add hot water) and one gag gift (I'm torn between dog biscuits and toilet paper...both seem kinda practical right now actually) I sit and reflect on Family Christmases past. This will mark the 13th Christmas without Grandpa, his spirit is honored by my mom with her preservation of his favorite chair and jacket sitting quietly by the tree. I think about the patriarch of our strange family and how he would have enjoyed the mild insanity that we have adopted over the years. Pa passed away a week after I graduated high school, never met the spouse and didn't get to see us favorite grandkids (the last 5 born) grow to the adults we are. He would have been proud. He would be entertained and quite possibly a bit appalled. Alas, he is missed.
We party on, without Pa here, with our huge food offerings and strange gifts (we do the White Elephant/New England/whatever you call it exchange). New members seem to be brought in yearly the past 5 years or so, beginning with the birth of my oldest screamer. They learn young the disappointment of receiving a case of Safeguard (as the oldest picked the biggest box under the tree last year, he was mighty upset to find that enclosed) and to enjoy the laughter of family.
We are the noisy Irish type of family, but are not wholly Irish. Our roots are actually Welsh with some Scot, Irish and German thrown in for good measure. Stories are shared over and over with the same smiles and laughs as always. Family history repeated orally, lessons in hardship shared and since "the grandkids" are now all grown we learn things about our parents that would have caused the need for therapy had we learned them as children. And the parents learn things about us that would have caused the need for severe beatings had they known when we were younger.
We are scattered throughout Missouri, Kentucky and Texas but manage to find (most of us) the way "home" for this one weekend. Being the sentimental nutjob of the bunch, I take it all in with a feeling of joy. My screamers are getting to experience something that so many their ages don't. Family, in its raw unadulterated form. It isn't about the holidays/gifts anymore, hasn't been for years. It is about the time we get together, even if it is just once a year.
The one thing I will be missing this year is my sister. She is forbidden to come. Strict orders. No way will she be allowed to even leave the state of Kentucky. No, no crimes have been committed, no laws broken. She is simply being told to stay put by the family. Why? Because she is 38 weeks pregnant with baby #2 and tonight is a full moon. I am ecstatic for her and wish that I could afford the trip down to be there for her as she was there for the birth of both screamers.
I miss her badly. We have the same complaints about Mom (would you please not rearrange my kitchen cabinets to your liking...you don't live here) and many of the same ideals. You wouldn't have thought that growing up (she is 8 years my senior), we despised each other. Actually had a thrown down fight in the front yard, where my skinny ass 11 year old self was body slammed by her 7mths pregnant behind. That'll show her to stick her finger in my face...yep...push her butt in the dryer when she bends over...then run like hell. Unfortunately, I did not run fast enough. I actually think the term "slut" is what got me body slammed though. I'll have to ask her, the whole incident is a little fuzzy for me (concussion maybe?). We get on beautifully now though. Very few moments of disgust with each other. Could have something to do with the fact that I grew up. At least that is what she says. Gosh I miss her.
But I'll be on the phone with her most of the day Sunday, I'm sure. She's emotional and high strung right now. I remember the first Family Christmas I missed, sobbed like a twerp and I was 22yrs old. Didn't even have the excuse of being pregnant like she does. The niece will be here though (her 21 yr old daughter....doing the math?) provided her baby brother doesn't decide to make an appearance before she hits the road for the long drive up. I almost wish he would, not because I don't love my niece but because I'm afraid he'll show his little rear AFTER she is here. Keeping the fingers crossed of course.
So there you have it, the rambling plans of the weekend madness coming my way. I'm kinda hoping to score some of those bars of soap or bottles of shampoo this year. One less thing to spend money on!
Hope your weekend is as interesting as mine is bound to be. Check the preps and snuggle in...next week is going to be a dozy!
P.S. Wild weather on the way here next week. Lots of freezing rain, temp drops and snow in the forecast. We're breaking out the heaters for an overhaul and prepping them for use. The electric is bound to go down at some point.
P.S.S. Ain't this a pretty picture of the World today?
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