Just waking up now...it's been a long two days, and an orgy in gift giving.
Christmas eve always starts off at my parents' home. Corb, Lisa, and I make the trek to Plymouth with the kids, to my parents' house in the woods. Two things always occur during the trip to the house: a) we always miss the road that leads to my parents house, and have to turn around, and b) once we make the turn, right before we get to the house, there's a dip in the road. Everyone always teases, me because one year, I was tired and thought we were falling off a cliff, like lemmings.
Once at my parents, much food, much laughter, much gift opening. Corb bought a green frog watch for my mom, Betty Barnacle the Frog Killer, which she actually loved. Then, back to Eldredge, at around eleven. On the way home, I tell the kids my annual "Santa Ghost" story: Santa Ghost is an evil twin of Santa Claus who every years tries to murder the kids on the night before Christmas, but they defeat him in the knick of time, by working together, along with the aid of all the family pets. (The things the kids will remember about me when they grow up!)
Then, kids in bed and the challenge begins: finish up the wrapping for the kids, in time for Christmas morning.
Those of you who know my family situation well, know that since Corb and Josie and me get along so well, Corb and I actually sleep over at the homestead on Christmas eve. But these past few years, that hasn't technically been true. Josie's couch is far too lumpy, and besides that, we like the feel of our own bed. So, what we do is wrap at our place and wake up at five in the morning, and then drive over to Josie's to place all the presents around the tree, adding ours to hers.
Here's where the most complex of our Christmas giving tradition begins. Each year, the kids have one extra special gift that they receive--something they've really been dying to get.
I make them earn it. What happens is that Santa leaves with his note three poems, which provide clues to the location of a series of hidden clues, which ultimately reveal to the kids the location of their special Santa present. It's funny watching them tear through the house, looking for the gifts, although a pain for me to have to come up with rhyming couplets year after year, especially so late at night.
This time around, though, I decided to do something different. What I did was make it into a different kind of game. So, we wrapped all three of the kids big presents up, and after all the other gifts were opened, I served as game show host, and Corb and Josie trotted out the three gifts, setting them on the dining room table.
On the front of each gift was a number: 1, 2, and 3. And, on the back, the names of who owned each gift. To "earn" the gifts, the kids had to answer trivia questions about myself, Corb, and Josie. Like:
Q: When Dad was a kid, what did he cut in half with a knife, because he thought it was too large?
A: An enormous poop.
The first kid to answer the question would receive a point, and the first one to get four points would then get the honor of selecting from the three presents. The twist was, of course, that that didn't mean they would be able to open their present first. The present they chose might be meant for the other two kids, meaning that another kid got to open a present first.
In theory, it sounds complex, but in practice, it worked out quite well. All three kids had awesome big presents: Theo received a laptop, Ashes a Coach bag, and Annie two tickets to see Bon Jovi.
It did break down a bit in the final stage: Ashes was thrilled with her Coach bag, which she opened first, but then she watched Annie open up her Bon Jovi tickets. She instantly turned green.
"She gets Bon Jovi tickets?" she asked.
"Yes, and you received a coach bag." What I didn't say was the prices are about the same.
"But I asked for Bon Jovi tickets." Which she hadn't. "Well, I hope she's going to take me with her."
Fat chance, that. No comment from Annie, who was too happy with her tickets to pay any attention to her sulking sister.
"Or maybe I'll just buy my own ticket." Have fun with that one, love.
"And you'd BETTER be getting me tickets to England to the Supernatural convention in 2010."
I shook my head. "Ashes, that's an awful lot of money."
She stormed off, sulking.
But other than that one little instance (and there always are little instances like that with Ashes), the rest of the day went fine. After the presents were opened, Josie and the kids went off to her mothers to open more presents, and Corb and I drove back to the place to wrap more presents and exchange our own to each other. I had many Doctor Who-themed gifts under my stocking, so I was very, very happy.
Then, we picked up the kids, and drove them to the house of Corb's mother. This year, after a few years of family stress, she finally had all of her kids at the place, celebrating together, so I'm sure it was a special day for her. More food, more laughs, more presents.
Back home, at around eleven. We all played with our own gifts, deep into the night. And now here I am, typing up our day, late in the morning.
All in all, it was a good year. How was yours?