Christmas gathering, that is. When my Grandma was alive, my extended family got together on Christmas Eve each year. But after she passed in 1986, there were those (my mom at the forefront) who wanted it changed to a different date. For awhile it was moved to the weekend after Christmas, however, that was generally a busy weekend for some as well, so the date was moved to January, usually at the discretion of the host/hostess. This year my Aunt S was the hostess, which was nice not only because it is the closest for us but also, my Aunt knows how to throw a party.
Besides S&D, D&J and L&J were there. As for cousins, Shelli, Shannon, Debi, Lisa and even Don were there. Two of my brothers were there with their families as well. My parents, of course, were not there having left for South Carolina in December. The most surprising of all was Don. I rarely get to see my Aunt J's kids... Dede because of distance (she lives on the east coast although to be fair, she is the one that I have probably seen the most in recent years), Don sometimes puts in an appearance but usually a short lived one while Denise has not come to one in years. Don has always appeared as aloof and indifferent to family. He mainly shows for his mother's sake, I have always assumed. However, this time he not only showed but did not leave until we did after 1:00 a.m. It was great to not only talk with him but to enjoy it as well. Turns out he is quite the renaisance man... funny yet philosophical.
At our family gatherings, there is food, drink (This year I downed a shot of Goldshlagger - UGH!) and a gift exchange. For the gift exchange everyone who wishes to participate is asked to bring a $15 generic gift. We then sit in a circle and the gift is passed either to the left or the right. The direction is determined based on a story that my Aunt J writes based on information regarding each family member. Whenever the word "left" or "right" is mentioned, then the presents are passed in those directions. The story usually brings great laughter and this year was no different.
The best thing about parties at S&D's house is that we usually end up staying late, laughing and talking. This year was no exception! Most people left by 9:00 p.m. however a few of us stayed longer. Five of my cousins, the DH and myself and of course, S&D. We sat laughing, drinking (some more than others... DEBI! ) We finally left at 1:15 a.m. after waking up the kids who had fallen asleep long before. It was a great time!