Christmas was quite fun this year, with all six of us home for what will probably be the only year in the middle of six years' worth of missions.
Our family gets really into Christmas, with all sorts of traditions. Some of them are unintentional, like the yearly argument at the Christmas tree farm over which of the trees on the hill is actually the tallest, but most of them are on purpose. For example, when we decorate the Christmas tree we take a trip down memory lane with the brass ornaments. Everywhere we go we collect them as souvenirs. Most of them have certain people who have to put them up because of the story attached.
Logan has to put up the one for the Badlands because he became a Junior Ranger there after knocking over an entire Western-themed puppet show display while trying to use his puppet to bite the ear of a girl he thought was cute. He was five. He also has to put the Portland Zoo one up in memory of when a bird pooped on his head and then Mom tried to use hand sanitizer to get it out of his hair, which just made it way worse. Dad has to put the one from Vancouver up because he was climbing over a tree in the park and split his pants. Lance has to put the one from Seattle up because he came within two inches of being hit by a half a dead rat a hawk lost its grip on. And so on. For some reason all of our best family vacation memories seem to involve laughing hysterically at one family member's misfortune.
On Christmas Eve our family spends the day making and decorating sugar cookies to deliver to friends around town. Now that we are older Dad doesn't have to race to decorate as many cookies as he can before we get to them. Even Logan is good at decorating at them now. We used to give him the reindeer to decorate every year and then when all of the plates were delivered say "Ooops, how could we forget to put the reindeer in there again this year?"
After we are done delivering the cookies we go out to eat. When we lived in Iowa the only thing in town that was open on Christmas Eve was Burger King. When we moved here and had more options Cole insisted for years that we keep going to Burger King because it was tradition. We tried to tell him that eating at Burger King on Christmas Eve was a weird tradition and he finally believed us one year when the girl behind the counter was talking loudly on her cell phone and saying "Yeah, I wish I could go home but we have to wait for this family who is still eating here. What kind of people eat at Burger King for dinner on Christmas Eve?" Now we eat at Denny's and Cole is like "Why didn't we start doing this sooner?"
When we come home all of us kids sleep on the floor in the boys' room with the door shut while Santa comes. We have our yearly Christmas Eve confessional in which we tell each other all the things that happened this year that we don't want Mom and Dad to know about, that involve things like members of the opposite gender and law enforcement and stories with content not appropriate for sharing in front of one's mother. This year we talked about [censored because Mom and Dad read this blog]. We didn't go to sleep until midnight and then Lance, who got stuck sleeping on the end and with a crocheted afghan, woke me up at 4:30 a.m. to beg to share my blankets and inform me that whoever thought it would be a good idea to make blankets with holes in them should be shot.
When we opened Christmas presents (at 5:00 a.m. instead of a civilized adult time like 8:00) we did what we normally do, which is keep rotating youngest to oldest and when it is your turn you pick out a present to give to someone else and everyone watches them open it. I think the best reaction this year was when Cole opened his racket stringer, which he thought he wouldn't get because it's more than Santa normally spends on gifts. He was like a five year old on Christmas morning, albeit a five year old who can talk nonstop for fifteen minutes straight about the difference between synthetic gut and big banger strings and the benefits of hybrid rackets before we can get a word in edgewise to tell him it's his turn to pick out a gift.
Years ago our parents decided we were getting too greedy about Christmas and announced that the amount of money for Christmas presents was being cut way back and we had to make each person in the family a gift. Over the years the homemade presents have continued in addition to buying gifts, although now they are usually more humorous than useful. I think my favorite this year was when Logan opened a CD from Lance. When he put it in we discovered it was a recording of Ducksauce's "Barbara Streisand" except instead of Barbara Streisand the guy says "Logan's sexy." I'm pretty sure it's what he listens to every morning when he wakes up now.
On Christmas night we open our stockings, which have letters from each member of the family in them. We take bets on whose letter will make Mom cry first.
Somehow the other holidays just aren't as fun.