I watched the movie Four Christmases with a bit of trepidation and some nostalgia. It’s a movie about a couple who divides their Christmas Day between their parents, all of whom are remarried. Although my parents never divorced until later, it seemed a constant competition between my maternal and paternal grandparents as to which family got Christmas Eve and which got Christmas day.
As an adult, I can empathize with my poor mother, who just wanted everyone to be happy…which was impossible, of course. As a child, I benefited because that competition primarily took the form of a feast. My maternal proper Scottish grandparents were all fondue and oyster dressing and food that was a bit more highbrow. It slowly sucked you into a culinary coma, on the heels of candied pecans and just a spoon more of crème fraiche. And ALL THE SALMON.
On the other hand, the aroma coming from my paternal Italian grandparents’ home punched you in the face the second you opened the car door. You were helpless to resist fresh bread and pasta, home-churned butter, and such a variety of meats that all the neighbors stopped by for some. The dogs didn’t even bother to beg because they were so stuffed. Another lamb bone? Meh. Bury it with the other ones.
I’m very fortunate that my husband’s big family picks a Saturday before Christmas, with everyone contributing several dishes. Each person gives one gift and receives one gift. Very practical and nobody is burdened with all the cooking. More time for visiting. My sister, mother, and I? We pick up Dreamland Ribs. We are flexible types and just want to relax and gab. Also, each year I contact the elves so that Santa delivers gifts the morning of Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day because that’s when we get my step-son. Christmas Day is spent at home, which is right where I want to be. Then, in January, we have a “Christmas Reunion” at the community center for my husband’s entire extended family…or Dirty Santa Professional Edition as I call it. Seriously. Don’t EVER steal the gift the third time unless you are willing to face the consequences.
Do you have multiple Christmases on a single day or any behind-the-scenes machinations? I feel blessed that my family days are not burdensome to me. No competition from the different families. But, I admit that I could do with a tiny bit of oyster dressing accompanied by hot, crusty bread fresh out of the oven with just a smidge of home-churned butter.