Happy Christmas Eve!
Imagine being so excited about Christmas that you celebrate it four times in a row, all on one day. For myself, my husband and our two kids, that idea is a reality.
I'm not sure how it became a tradition, but somewhere between our wedding vows and the intense labor of our first child, we unknowingly agreed to make holiday appearances (especially on Christmas) at each of our grandparents' houses -- four homes to visit in one day. But we don't mind. It brings some of the best memories of the year: toddler talent shows, chocolate desserts, karaoke sing-alongs, more chocolate desserts -- you get the picture. It makes for some intense planning.
It's the same drill every year: We wake up that morning and hope to find a valid excuse to stay home. Once we finally realize and accept that there's no way out, we jump up and put the holiday road trip in motion. We suit ourselves in durable yet festive outfits, load up the gifts and food, and by noon we are on our merry way.
North Phoenix, South Phoenix, North Phoenix, then back to South Phoenix, the day's agenda is mapped out. As we pull up to Grandma Minnie's driveway (the first stop), our kids get the usual passive-aggressive back-seat lecture on how to behave like civilized, robotic adults. As usual, they agree, their little faces shining like innocent cherubs, but they can't hide that wild-and-crazed look in their eyes. They know it's Christmas, the day they've waited for all year, and it's hard for them to contain themselves.
What follows throughout the next 10 hours is enough to rival any Nick at Nite sitcom marathon. Within the vastly different gatherings, the four of us partake in quadruples of everything: lighthearted conversation, tamale eating, sharing presents, storytelling, cleaning, prayers and best of all, family bonding time.
We finally make it to the final destination and think about how great the day has been. We're happy, and the kids have been angels. Almost. We notice they have finally reached the red zone: Too many candy canes have made them dazed and confused.
Exhausted, they roam aimlessly in search of more treats, screaming every time they don't find any. My husband and I look down and notice we have stopped using silverware to eat our food.
This is usually when we look at each other and call it a day.
That is, until New Year's.
* All content/photos copyright, © Kathy Cano-Murillo, 2008.