Bright and early tomorrow morning, we'll be flying to Austin, TX for Christmas with my family. We always spend Dec. 23rd in East Texas (near Beaumont), visiting my dad's side of the family and doing presents with them. The 24th is spent in Houston, where there's a huge family gathering at my maternal grandparents' house (we're talking 40-60 people in one sprawling house in the country), where the kids do a gift exchange, everyone eats, the wine flows freely, and we sing Christmas carols in the living room. Then we drive back to Austin to spend Christmas morning at my parents' house.
Christmas is my favorite time of year, and Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year. The family togetherness, the connection to my gajillions of cousins, the food, the singing, the warmth... It's just incredible. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed, and I have to take a few minutes to go sit in the walk-in closet in the guest suite until my nerves defray a bit, but when I come back out, no one says anything about it, and I just slip right back into the festivities. It's grand.
Last year, I missed Christmas Eve because I was on a gig with the band. This year, I'm thrilled that the hubby, C, and I will all be a part of the celebration. One year, it actually snowed in Houston on Christmas Eve, so we all went outside and sang Frosty the Snowman in the snow. It was absolutely magical.
Of course, our trip will encompass more than just Christmas with all the pieces of my family. We're staying through New Year's Eve, our anniversary, and New Year's Day, hubby's birthday. I know hubby is anxious about spending two weeks with my family (in-laws stress everyone out, even if they're great in-laws like my parents), but he's keeping the grumbling to a minimum because he knows how important this is to me. Next year, he'll be working through the Christmas season and won't be able to take off long enough to travel, so we'll be apart for Christmas. It works out that way every other year, which is why me working out of town last Christmas wasn't a big deal (except that it meant missing Christmas Eve in Houston!).
This year has been hard on our marriage. We hit some speed bumps along the way, but we pulled through it together. We renewed our vows in October, so, in a way, this is almost like our first Christmas together. Certainly it's our first Christmas since we've been this close and strong in our relationship. I can't wait!
We're celebrating a mini-Christmas tonight at home with the gifts that didn't get shipped to my parents' house. I don't think hubby sent any of my gifts to Texas, whereas I sent all but two of his down there so he'd have them to open on Christmas Day, on our anniversary, and on his birthday. We're not going to do a fancy Christmas dinner tonight or anything more than exchange gifts, really, because we're trying to cut back on spending, and it'd be foolish to cook a huge meal and have to throw away the leftovers because they'd spoil before we get back. Besides, we have to do things like pack for the trip and assemble our new guest bed tonight. ;)
I don't know how active I'll be here while we're visiting my parents. I may post a brief message or two from my cell phone if there's anything interesting to share. Hopefully I'll think to snap a picture of the New Year's Eve "hubby's birthday" fireworks over Lady Bird Lake and post that, just to be festive, but I know you'll all forgive me if I don't spend my anniversary/my husband's birthday blogging. ;)
I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season, however you choose to spend it, and I wish you all joy and warmth in your hearts.