Christmas Eve was a Norwegian Christmas with about 20 of my mom's family at one house -- great aunts and uncles, grandparents, aunt and uncle, cousins. After a feast of traditional foods and mountains of dishes, Santa's sleigh bells were heard outside. Chaos ensued with wrapping paper flying, new dolls crying, blinding flash bulbs on the old cameras popping.
Church was at 11 p.m. The sanctuary, filled with spruce trees and pine garlands, brightened with ropes of red and gold, candles and choirs, joyous organ and trumpet music, and the holy comfort of tradition, was never more gorgeous or warm than on Christmas Eve.
Me (left) and my baby sister
Then, half asleep we trudged out into the snow and cold that shocked us awake for the drive back to the party. Out of the kitchen came the ladies in their Christmas aprons with "a little midnight supper" -- leftover turkey, pickled herring, Christmas cookies, coffee -- to fortify us for the ride home and a few hours of sleep.
Then, the next day, Christmas Day, we did it all over again with Dad's side of the family.
Me, cousin, and sister, Christmas Eve
Now we all live so far apart, from Wisconsin and Minnesota to South Carolina, California to Florida. The effort to bestow presents -- and presence -- on children and grandchildren takes us most of a month! This week we had Christmas #2 with my daughter and son-in-law and one of my grandsons from Minnesota when they visited my mom in Florida.
It was pouring rain when we crossed the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, the tops of the bridge sails hidden in the fog. Nine rainy hours later, we arrived in central Florida.
Mason was the only one brave enough to play in the ocean. The rest of us were sitting on the beach in sweaters, jackets, and long pants.
He loved a visit to the Kennedy Space Center
and wore his new space helmet on the
plane trip home to Minnesota.
My best Christmas present so far (and we have two more Christmases to go)!