Somehow, despite being together for over five years, I’ve never actually spent Christmas Eve with Paul’s family. I think it’s a combination of the fact that it doesn’t work out well some years when my aunt and uncle in Belle Vernon host, and then there’s the couple of years I’ve had to work. So this Christmas was the first one I actually spent with his family for Christmas Eve.
Now, the original plan was to head to my parents’ a little early to help my mom get ready, since this was her year to host. But Paul put off more of his Christmas shopping than I realized for some difficult recipients, and had I realized that, I would’ve made him do more shopping earlier. Note to self for next Christmas. We were supposed to go out the night before, which would’ve worked out much better, but he didn’t feel like it–and because he has depression, I choose my battles. Sometimes giving him a little push is for the best, sometimes it’s not. While I didn’t push him because of his mood, I probably should have. Would’ve saved lots of time and trouble the next day, Christmas Eve.
He only needed to buy for his grandparents and a close family friend, Miss Loretta, that’s as good as a grandmother. Now, if this were me, it would be easy–gift sets from Harry & David up at the outlets and done. But because this is Paul’s family, it’s not easy at all. We couldn’t get his grandparents Harry & David stuff because his grandmother’s diabetic, even though you wouldn’t know it. She attacks cookies and junk food, and I’ve never seen her test her blood or even express concern for her blood sugar. So my argument was, “What difference does it make?” I actually thought a really cute cookie set would be good, and it’s not like she can’t have it at all. But Paul didn’t want to be an enabler.
Now, normally, one could say, “Okay, we’ll get Loretta a gift set and we’ll pick out something else for your grandparents.” But no! If they see that she got something different, they’ll get jealous. My argument here was, “That’s their damn problem if they want to be petty about being adults getting jealous over Christmas presents,” but Paul wanted to avoid the trouble.
So he called his dad and settled and restaurant gift cards.
At some point in the morning, Paul and I exchanged gifts. He got me two books and a mystery present to come at a later date that I was convinced was an engagement ring, but that’s a story for another day. I got him a book and mostly clothes–some pajama pants, some Rick and Morty shirts, some dress pants because I know he has approximately none. And turns out the pants fit a tad too snug, which sucked because he’d intended to wear a pair. So we decided to exchange them quickly, but the next size up had a two-inch measurement difference, which he thought would be too big. And we didn’t really have time to screw around with checking sizing and trying pants on, so we decided to leave that for another day and went off to celebrate Christmas. And by this point, it was early afternoon.
We were at his grandparents’ for maybe two hours or so, and we’ve learned to strategically plan out holidays. They always start at 2, but the food is never actually ready for a few hours. So we figured we could go, hang out, head to my parents’ early, and get our full dinner there. This also works well because my parents’ dog doesn’t generally get into food the way Paul’s grandparents’ dogs do.
Speaking of, their little Dachsund–the one I infamously cleaned up after one Thanksgiving–is in love with me. I still like to think it’s a cry for help and he wants me to take him home. But it was such a nice, unusually warm day that us kids sat out on the porch, and Woody loved alternating sitting with me or with Paul’s brother Josh. He’d jump up and snuggle next to me on the glider and get some belly scratches, and then he’d head over to Josh to sit in his lap and get back scratches. It got to the point that whenever anyone tried to sit next to me, I told them they were in Woody’s seat.
It was mostly a nice visit, actually, with no drama.
When we got to my parents’, I rushed around setting out gifts and doing some last-minute wrapping, then hung out as aunts, uncles, and cousins (and their significant others) gradually filed in and we had a nice dinner, followed by a round of Cards Against Humanity, our new family tradition. It’s funny because when we were kids, we’d hassle the adults for when we could open presents, and now we’re like, “Eh, let’s just play until the adults summon us.” And they always do.
I decided to get all the cousins gifts this year, since most of us who are off working and on our own have started to do it. So I went with homemade jerky for the boys–which was fun to keep away from the dog–and Lush soap and hand lotion gift sets for the girls.
We got lots of nice stuff–candy, nice Christmas glasses, a photo calendar of all of us as kids. Plus the candy and cookies Paul’s family sent us home with, which made him feel bad that we didn’t get anything for the aunts and uncles. My suggestion was that maybe next year, we just buy some generic things like candy and have them ready in case we get surprised with gifts and want to return the sentiment.
Everyone left by maybe around 10, and we decided to head out to mass. I always like midnight mass, and then we got home late and had a late-night snack of Christmas cookies. And then we started the annual “when are we opening presents” debate.
I have this thing where I think it’s more fun to open presents on Christmas Day, but Brandon wants to open them after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The argument is usually, “But technically, it is Christmas Day,” and then I say, “But I like waking up and having something to open!” And everyone will joke about me being a Christmas Nazi. But we usually come to a compromise–we pick a single gift to open, and we let our parents pick whether or not they want to open their gifts. I got a scarf that has pockets to store your cellphone, which is what my mom bought all the female cousins. My mom opted to open our gift to her, which was a Snoopy charm bracelet, plus Christmas charms for a necklace we bought her a couple Christmases ago.
Paul and I spent the night, since we had an hour drive back, it was late, an we knew we’d just be back in the morning to go to his parents’. So I slept in my parents’ room and he could’ve taken the sunroom but instead fell asleep on the couch.
And on Christmas Day, our schedule revolved a lot around when the dog got up.