While we were in Ohio we had not one, not two but THREE Christmases! We haven’t had that many Christmases since we were first married and had to hit all the family gatherings.
The first of our three Christmases was with John and Jackie on the same day as the cantata at Lewis Center. Because the Cleveland Browns played on Saturday, we were able to go out to eat after church and then exchange Christmas presents. John and Jackie alternate Christmases in Ohio and Pennsylvania. This was a Pennsylvania year and they were leaving December 19. So the 16th was a good time to have our exchange.
This felt like “the real” Christmas – just because we are so accustomed to spending Christmas day with John. Tom and I exchanged our gifts to each other as well as giving gifts to John and Jackie. We got lots of goodies, from a new battery powered drill and light to “The Rockford Files” television series set of DVDs. We put together a “Bob’s Burgers” puzzle and played some video games. It was a lovely, relaxed afternoon together.
The second of our three Christmases was with the extended family at Mom and Dad’s house. We had a dinner with everyone contributing something. Almost the whole family was present, except for John and Jackie and my niece Grace. We exchanged “silly” gifts and sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.
Our silly gift exchange is very silly. We have been doing it about 10 years now. You bring the same number of gifts as you have people in your family. Then one person picks out a gift and unwraps it. The next person can either get a new gift from under the tree or “steal” the gift that someone else selected. Sometimes the gifts are wonderful – Boy Scout popcorn – and sometimes they are just, well, silly. The point is to regift something you don’t want and not spend any money on the gifts. My nephew Jared was the king of silly gifts because he got himself a 3-D printer and made some gifts. Dad got what he thought was a roll of paper towels, but when he unwrapped all of them, there was a 3-D printed Venus de Milo inside.
After everything was cleaned up from the silly gifts and opening stocking presents, those of us remaining played dominoes. This year Steve and Kathy stayed and we had a very spirited game. Then we all helped, as much as possible, clean everything up and do the dishes. The last ones remaining get the leftovers!
The third of our three Christmases was on Christmas Day with my parents. Tom and I went to their house about 10 in the morning, much later than I used to wake them up on Christmas Day! Mom and Dad opened the presents we had for them. Mom got some puzzles and hand warmers. Dad got a sweater that I knitted for him. I also spun and plied the yarn for the sweater, so it was quite a labor of love. I was really pleased that it fit him perfectly. The surprise hit gift was a manual card shuffler (battery powered ones break too easily). Mom and Dad are not able to shuffle cards like they used to, so this card shuffler means they can take their turn. We all used it when we played UNO and it did a great job of shuffling the whole UNO deck.
After presents we shared in a meal and finished a puzzle we started Christmas Eve. Then we played TransAmerica and UNO. The UNO game was long and hilarious. I hit 400 points after just a few hands, but then managed to stay below 500 while everyone else caught up. Tom ended up winning by one point over my dad. Mom ended up being the one who went over 500 first but I wasn’t far behind. We used the card shuffler so much, I’m surprised it wasn’t smoking!
After a full and very fun day, Tom and I headed home. We enjoyed each of our three Christmases, but agreed that we were glad Christmas was over.