My family celebrates Christmas, and this Christmas did not disappoint. We spent time with my husband’s family and my parents, which totaled 14 adults, nine kids, one cat and one dog. Things started and ended equally chaotic. My brother-in-law left all of his shopping for the afternoon before our gift exchange, causing my sister-in-law to delay her hair appointment. When he got home to watch the kids, his wife headed to the salon. But, because it was a couple of days before Christmas, the person who was scheduled to work was a beginner stylist who took nearly four hours to do the job. Needless to say she was running late and her restless husband kept calling and calling to see if the party was starting without him. Meanwhile, my nephew and his mom spent the hours prior to our party in urgent care.
Everyone did eventually gather in one place. My brother-in-law showed up really mad about the long hair appointment. Really mad. My sister-in-law was also upset about the extended appointment and the fact that her hair didn’t look much different. My nephew and his mom arrived with an antibiotic to treat his double ear infection.
The first thing we did to get the party started was to dive into the food. Everyone went through the kitchen buffet style. It’s not a gather-around-the-table-and-enjoy-dinner kind of time in our lives. It’s more like half of the adults eat and half feed the kids, then the adults who are done eating take over with the kids and the rest of the adults eat. I have learned that the key to a good dinner is not when you eat but when you get your food. It’s important to get in line for a plate of food right away, even if you have the first shift of kid duty. Otherwise, my brothers-in-law will eat their portion and yours.
Following dinner Santa showed up and gave gifts to the kids. Each kid sat on his lap. They did not like that. There was crying. When Santa left, we exchanged gifts with each other and tried to keep the children from fighting over toys. When we failed at keeping the peace there was more crying. The kids eventually settled down and focused on their own toys…and that is when red wine was spilled on the couch.
The spill disrupted the peaceful seconds of bliss and triggered a domino effect. A few of us stopped what we were doing to clean the red wine spill, my brother-in-law put his gift down to Google how to get red wine out of fabric while bouncing his baby, other parents took this timeout to change poopy diapers, and several of the kids ran out of the room to go play in the basement. My mother-in-law declared, “It’s Christmas. We are not going to worry about red wine on the couch. It’s just a couch. We are having Christmas.” So the adults completed what was left of the gifting session and agreed that we should not cry over spilled wine, especially when we are having our Christmas.
There is one Christmas tradition that, in hindsight, we should have done first. At the end of the evening we always put the kids in their pajamas and gather them on the couch for a picture. As you know, kids don’t share the same appreciation for tradition. When they are tired, they are tired and there’s no going back — not even for the annual couch photo.
We tried to sit our kids in a line. Most did not want to be there. They were clinging to their parents, crying or asking when they could be done. It was easy to tell that the cute, sweet photo of children smiling at the camera was not going to happen this year. We tried to salvage the moment. This is the best we could do:
From our family to yours….Merry Christmas!