Christmas is a season of seeing families you do not oft see and traveling for our small family. This season was no different, the difference was how close all of the celebrations were to each other. With Christmas falling on a Tuesday this year, Haley and I had to work until the Friday before, so everything was compacted before Christmas. Having survived this arrangement of the holiday season, I have to say that I enjoy working up until a few days before Christmas.
I posted som (blurry) photos of our first Christmas celebration with my parents, brother, and his wife, which started at the beautiful albeit crowded Gaylord Texan hotel where we took our annual visit to the ICE exhibit and ate dinner at the vaunted Old Hickory Steak House. The theme for ICE this year was Madagascar Christmas. I’ve seen the first of the Madagascar movies and was underwhelmed; oddly enough, this was the same reaction I had to the ICE show this year. We all agreed that in terms of the sculptures this might have been the finest we’ve seen, but I think that they are running out of classic Christmas movies to create so they’re going for kid friendly animated movies. After shedding the jackets you are obligated to wear and thawing out our hands we headed to the Old Hickory Steak House for our annual gorging. Between the lobster bisque, my brother ordering wine, and the bone-in filet I had for dinner you would think I would know when to quit, but no I had to order dessert as well and I paid for it later that night. Throughout the dinner we talked about how we will welcome the addition of our daughter next Christmas, or rather how she’ll be staying with a babysitter. When we returned home we opened our first batch of presents. The next morning we stowed our newest treasures with my parents and proceeded to my wife’s stomping ground for the remainder of our Christmas celebrations.
The morning of Christmas eve had us traveling down I-20 out of Dallas toward my in-laws house in Tyler, TX…yes, that’s right Tyler was headed to Tyler. We arrived at just about lunch time and caught up until it was time to head to my father-in-law’s family Christmas celebration at a local mexican restaurant. We ate a painfully slow dinner while watching the youngest of their family wander hither and yon around the private room we had been sequestered in. I enjoy talking with this side of the family for a little while, and since I hadn’t seen any of them since last Christmas it was fun to chat about life outside of Dallas. After dinner we headed back to the in-laws house for ‘Peppard Christmas’ and dessert. Rather than buying gifts for each person in the extended family, we each bring a (roughly) $10 gift card and play ‘dirty Santa’ (aka white elephant gift exchange for you normal folks out there). I ended up with a bit of spending money at 7-Eleven and Haley came away with a giftcard to Starbucks. We went to bed that night with overly full bellies for the second straight night and thoughts of two more celebrations on the mind.
Christmas morning is quite a tradition in Haley’s family. We all wake up in the morning and sit around the tree. Someone hands out a single gift to each person and we all take turns opening them and praising the person who gave the gift. This is quite a departure from my family’s Christmas where we hand out all the gifts to everyone present and let a Shark Week style feeding frenzy erupt until all the presents are opened. We all left this Christmas celebration with many new gifts and a hunger in our belly, so we began to cook breakfast consisting of my father-in-laws famous eggs, 2 types of sausage, and biscuits and gravy. We then spent the rest of the day trying to keep ourselves from falling into a food coma and researching various topics on the internet.
Later that night we headed over to my mother-in-law’s sister’s house with family for the last of four celebrations. We each get a single present at this celebration and I love seeing what I get. This year I got a devotional and a digital picture frame, which is just perfect considering we have a little one coming later this year. We then proceeded through the random east Texas snow storm into their main house for dinner of green chili chicken and various games around the fireplace. This is by far my favorite group of family to catch up with because you never know what they’re going to be talking about. This year the boys were talking about the custom boots they had ordered for Christmas this year.
The following morning the fellowship broke as Haley’s brother headed back to Ft. Worth (something about going back to work) and we headed further into east Texas to visit one of Haley’s best friends in scenic Longview, TX. We went to eat with them, took the tour of Longview, and played a game of Settlers of Catan (our favorite board game) before heading back to Tyler to pack up, spend one more night, and head home first thing in the morning. I love Christmas break, and usually at this point it’s more than halfway over, but we have over a week left and more fun left to have. It’s always a whirlwind, but Christmas couldn’t be better time to catch up with family.