Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Over the river and through the woods...

We are headed to my in laws' place in a couple of hours.

We're having dinner at Jim's Uncle's house and then we'll spend the night at his parents' place.

I'm really lucky in that I get along with Jim's parents better than most people I know get along with their in laws. Sure they do stuff that makes me wince sometimes (give the kids WAY too much junk food, for example), but they usually learn their lesson without me having to resort to being a hag about it (getting puked on, for example).

Jim's family is really different than mine in a lot of ways. My family gathers, eats, chats a bit, and gets the hell out of dodge. His family likes to come early and stay late. My family is kind of quiet for the most part. His family is loud and raucous. My family's gatherings are strictly "dry" affairs. The wine and beer (and when we're really celebrating, bourbon) flows with abandon on his side of the family.

Every year, Christmas at my in laws' is like walking into a Norman Rockwell painting. The tree is real, but has been manicured to such perfection that is looks fake. There is a toy train (from Jim's Dad's youth) riding around a tree that would make Martha Stewart blush with envy. Little puffs of smoke trail out of the train as it rounds the tiny vintage village nestled where the presents usually sit. We've been going over there for over a decade and every year I still find something new under there.

We always have the same breakfast on Christmas morning: sausage and homemade buttermilk pancakes. It is always delicious and I always eat too many pancakes. I can't help it. They are just that good.

The tree and gifties are in the basement. The lights are dimmed just so, giving off a warm cozy feeling. After the Christmas music is put on, we all claim a spot and start doling out the loot. The fire crackles, the kids run around too excited to sit still, and we all drink his Mom's ridiculously strong coffee.

Even the way the gifts are wrapped are a work of art. It's not just the beautiful paper she wraps everything in. She adds baubles and real ribbon and berries and wreaths to everything. Sometimes I feel bad ripping into them they are so pretty.

I let the girls pick a few toys to get out of the packing to play with. I try to stash some of it because I know we will end up forgetting a piece to something if I don't. Usually we'll watch a movie, but this year we are going to bring our new Wii. Should be fun.

I always enjoy the holidays at their house. It's just so different that how I grew up. Sure we did the usual Christmas stuff at my house, but Jim's parents take it to a whole new level. Tradition is tradition over there. Nothing else will do.

Normally I'm all for bucking the status quo, but there is something so comforting about the way everything is like a made for tv movie over there.

I know how much they enjoy doing all of this especially now that they have grandkids to share it with. I hope they know how much I appreciate it.


moonfire photography said...

Merry Christmas! Your holiday with Jim's family sounds like the gatherings we'd have when I was little... I miss them.
Have a wonderful time and take pictures!

SkylersDad said...

Have fun and go ahead and eat too many pancakes! And that picture of your kids is just awesome, thanks for sharing!

Earth Muffin said...

Awww...that sounds so nice.

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