Monday, December 23, 2013

Tales of Christmas Past


The Dunnevant family will be breaking new ground for Christmas this year. For the first time in our 30 year marriage, we have nowhere to be. We will be spending the entire day at home. Well, not the actual day, since we will be celebrating Christmas on the 26th instead of the 25th and…wait. Let me start at the beginning.

When Pam and I got married Christmas celebrating became a three-fold event. We would wake up in our quiet, empty little apartment and have our little present exchange. Then we would get dressed and head over to my parents house to have Christmas lunch and open presents with the Dunnevant clan. Six hours later, we would hop in the car and head over to Pam’s parents house for Christmas dinner and another bout of presents with her family. If this sounds rather hectic and tiring, imagine how it was four years later when we did it with a two year old and a newborn. Christmas with two children that require car seats gives new meaning to the term “chaos.” Back then Christmas day started at 6 am and ended around 11 pm when we dropped the kids in their cribs still wearing their winter coats, and crawled into our bedroom on our hands and knees too weak to walk.

Eventually some semblance of sanity was restored when we went to the alternating families plan of the early 90’s. This was a scheme by which each side of the family was assigned one of the two “end of year holidays”. For example, in 1992 it was determined that we would be celebrating Thanksgiving at the Whites and Christmas at the Dunnevants, so the following year it got reversed, and so on down through the years. This proved to be only marginally more efficient since on the off years, we still ended up going to the other family’s house for dessert or some such thing anyway. Since we are lucky enough to live within 20 minutes of each of our families, there’s just no avoiding the fact that Thanksgiving and Christmas are the two longest and most hectic days of the year. Making merry, at the end of the day, is hard work.

Fast forward to 2013. This year we must accommodate a fiancĂ©e and my Son’s annoying job as a paid singer in an Episcopal church choir in Newark, New Jersey. What kind of church hauls it’s parishioners out at 10 am on Christmas morning for church? I’ll tell you what kind of church…a church full of old farts with no kids, THAT”S who. Nevertheless, Patrick is contractually obligated to perform at this ridiculous gathering so will be spending the 25th driving down 95. 2013 is the latest year of the White’s, so he will arrive at their house somewhere around 5 or 6 Christmas afternoon/evening just in time for dinner and the first bout of gift giving. We will celebrate Christmas with my family on Saturday the 28th, leaving the day after Christmas, the 26th as our family Christmas. How Santa is to be expected to keep this all straight is another story all together.

It will be so weird not to have anyplace to run off to on Christmas. We can sleep late. We can take our sweet time opening our presents. We can eat the famous Christmas breakfast feast slowly, savoring each bite. Then we can lie around in our pajamas all day playing with our toys and drinking hot cocoa just like Pajama Boy in that new Obamcare ad!

Reading back over this, I have made the holidays sound like the Bataan Death March, which was not my intent. As terribly hectic as it has all been these thirty years, it has gone by in a flash. If I had it to do all over again, I would. Part of me would give anything to be able to look in the rear view mirror of my old Dodge Caravan and see the beautiful faces of my sleeping toddlers. But then the other part of me that contains my BRAIN takes over, slaps me around a little and shouts, “What, are you nuts??!!”