Auntie D and Bear arrived Friday around midnight. I staid up to let them in and you know what happens when sisters get together. We staid up until around 2 am chatting about this and that. Even though we talk daily on the phone there is something about sisters seeing each other in person.
Bear was up at 6 am like always and Snow White followed soon after so there was no sleeping in for us sisters. Bear met Merril and Kitten for the first time. That didn't go so well at first but after awhile Kitten being either brave or stupid kept walking up to Bear. He thought they looked like big squirrels and wanted to have a bit of a chase game with them. I had never seen a cat actually bounce off the walls where they meet the ceiling before! Merril on the other hand staid in the safety of the laundry room. We made breakfast chatted constantly and went on many walks with Bear and Snow White. While we went about our day Man Son had the luxury of sleeping in. Oldest daughter was off with her friends this weekend to return on Sunday. After awhile Uncle C called and told us one of his workers lost a family member this morning and Uncle C will cover his shift Sunday. This means he and his family would be unable to come for Christmas. Our whole family has not been gathered together for years so it was very disappointing. I know it is not as disappointing as the afore mentioned workers holiday but still it was sad news to hear.
Auntie D, Uncle C and I started brain storming and came up with a plan. If he could arrange for someone to cover him today we would move Christmas up to today. I called Grandpa to see if they could make it today. He said he would check with Grandma and call me back later. We agreed to go on about our day until we heard one way or the other from Uncle C. Auntie D, Man Son, Snow White and I all went to the mall to see if there were any last minute tempting sales. That my dear friends was a grave mistake. At 2:30 pm Uncle C called to say he could make it if everyone else could make. I called Oldest daughter to let her know she will have to come home earlier than planned. When I called Grandpa he said Grandma was not feeling well when she woke up so they would need a little more time. If Grandma was not up to it he and Uncle L would come. I call Uncle C and say Early Christmas is a go. While all of this was going on we were taking our leisure at the mall.
Then it hit me my a brick wall! I only have a few hours to cook and get everything ready! My time had been shortened by a day and a half! There were a few items on the grocery list I still needed. The wrapping of presents was not 100% finished. Even though we moved three months ago there are still unpacked boxes here and there. Not one thing is hung up on the walls so my walls are bare. This will be the first time my brothers see the house so I want it too look nice. At this point I am in over drive and anyone who gets in my way will be bowled over.
Our first stop is the grocery store and I realize the list is at home on the fridge. Oh well, how hard could it be to remember what was on the list? Auntie D had some shopping to do as well. She manned the cart and strolled through the isles with ease as Snow White staid by her side. I on the other hand ran through the isles like a tornado picking up various items and making runs to and from the cart manned by Auntie D.
As soon as we are home I put the ham and pumpkin pie in the oven. I then put everything else in it's cooking container to be turned on at varied times. I then make a mad rush around the house and shout out orders like a drill sergeant. It all seems like a blur to me but I do recall saying "I will not repeat myself so listen up" and "If you stand still in my path is not a good idea." Yeah, that last one I remember because my sister laughed and said something like "get a hold of yourself woman". She then took Man Son, Bear and Snow White down to the basement for clean up detail. Later I realized it was to get them out of the drill sergeants path. After an hour or so I mixed the glaze for the ham, took the pie out and started the rest of the dishes. Since the first and second floor was almost perfect I took a bathroom break. When I went into the bathroom I heard Auntie D laughingly say "Look out Bear, don't stand in front of that door. It will fly open at any second and crazy woman will come out."
The house was looking very nice but I wanted to put out some last minute touches so I ran down to the basement to grab some festive fabric to drape over a few items in the living room. I laid out the good china on the dinning room table and set up a children's table in the kitchen. A few phone calls from Uncle C saying he picked up Oldest daughter on his way up and needed additional directions to the house. I laid out my plan to complete all the tasks with Auntie D. When Uncle C arrived I would give them a quick tour of the house then it was up to her to entertain them. I would then dash down to the basement and wrap the remaining gifts. She was laughing at me but happy to see I had slowed down and was a normal person again. Things were going well, then I realized the side dishes were still cooking so I yelled up the stairs "Auntie D check on the food!" I could hear her laughing as she yelled down to me "All taken care of." A few minutes later I heard the front door open and Grandpa saying "Merry Christmas!!" I was worn out but trying to wrap as fast as I could. I had only two more gifts to wrap when Auntie D came down stairs to say "They are starting to open presents. What can I do to help?" She wrapped one and I wrapped one and finally everything was done.
Yeah the gangs all here! Aunt S and the Girls brought a veggie dish with home made dressing as well as cookies and a red velvet cake they had made. The Girls LOVED the MP3 players and American Girl perfume we gave them! I was thrilled with the photo bag they gave me. A lot of the moms I know have them but I never bought one for myself.
Grandpa gave Snow White her very first American Girl doll! It was visible that her heart was caught up in her throat. Then she started shaking and soon after came excited screaming "its...BITTY BABY!!!"
Aunt S gave Man Son and Oldest daughter a maze game that when completed reveled a prize. In this case it was money. Man Son quickly solved the puzzle and proclaimed his victory to all. Oldest daughter was occupied with other gifts and said she would give the puzzle another try when not so many were watching. We passed out the remainder of the gifts and everyone seemed to have been given the perfect gift. There were three gifts inspired by another blogger lalaland. Her blog of going without power which meant without the ability to plug in her coffee maker inspired these gifts. Grandpa, Auntie D and myself each received a mini generator.
After the gift exchanges we sat down to dinner and wonderful conversations. Aunt S sat down to at the Children's table only to be greeted by a surprised Snow White saying "This is the Children's table. You are not a child." She laughed and joined the rest of us in the dinning room. I am not a person to eat sweets but I couldn't help myself when it came to the cookies she baked, they were absolutely delicious. Aunt S was a real pleasure to be around this holiday and I was so grateful they came all this way to spend an early Christmas with us. Aunt S and I have had a few ups and downs through out the years and I really cherish the "up" times. Her oldest girl just had her braces taken off and the youngest girl just had her top teeth fitted with braces.
After dinner Uncle C and Aunt S said they really had to get back home so Uncle C would have time to rest before going to work. Cameras seemed to materialize out of no where. Everyone wanted a group photo on their own cameras. The last time the family was all together Uncle L brought a friend who took the group photo. This year it was up to a tripod and camera timers. Auntie D's camera took photos in good fashion. Aunt S had a bit of a time with her timer. The first time she set it I said "RUN Aunt S RUN!" And Run she did. Then we waited but nothing happened. Second time she set it and as soon as she set in motion the camera went off. Then she said "Ok, I have it now" and ran towards us and the camera went off before she came around the tripod. Once again she went behind the tripod to try again and we were all hysterical with laughter at this point and Grandpa says "I've never seen Aunt S move so fast!" I am absolutely positive everyone was smiling in that photo! I could hear Aunt S herself laughing as the flash came once again. While the next camera was being set upon the tripod I took a few impromptu shots then told everyone I want to see those silly faces and they obliged.
There was one person missing, Grandma. She was too weary from traveling from Tennessee to travel again the very next day. After the series of tripod photos we called Grandma on speaker phone. When she answered we broke out in "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." After the first verse everyone stopped but Aunt S Oldest Girl which prompted the rest of us to continue through the next verse. In Grandma's voice it was obvious she was still under the weather and we had just woke her up. She was cheerful and glad to hear our merry voices.
Then it was time for goodbye hugs and kisses all around. Aunt S, Uncle C and the Girls had to get on the road. Grandpa and Uncle L had to get back to Grandma so we packed up their loot in their cars and thanked them all for coming. I even saw Uncle L give Aunt S a hug in the drive way and she had a happy smile on her face! Aunt S and I have our ups and downs but Aunt S has only had downs with Uncle L. This happy hugging right outside my house really made this wonderful holiday brighter!
Happy Christmas to ALL!! I hope all of you had as wonderful a Christmas as we did!
Still a few more days of Christmas to come...