Christmas Eve And A Little Taste Of Home

This morning we were all up and about shortly after 10. Well, the others were up a bit before that. I had to go to the Commune to get a sheet stating that I’m returning home. After that I came back and helped Greg clean up the kitchen before occupying (or trying to) Sylvain while Greg and Adeline vacuumed and mopped the main floor. It kind of needs it more often because the cat drags mud in everywhere!

Eventually they asked me to go the bakery to pick up the cake they had ordered while they finished up at the house. It was a pretty happening place! Pretty sure it was my last trip there. Finally I made my way home, cake in hand, and arrived at the same time as Greg’s family. Talk about timing! After saying all the hellos and such Jean-Phillip (Greg’s brother and Bastien’s godfather) gave Bastien his St. Nicolas gift he hadn’t had a chance to give to him yet. It was a fishing game. You set up 4 pieces of wood to make a square sort of well type thing and inside you toss the pieces (frogs, fish, and starfish). All are magnetized and so are the rods. Then you go fishing. Bastien had a lot of fun with it.

After starting the champagne and chips, veggies, and other appetizer items we had our hands full preventing Sylvain from taking a handful of chips and getting them all over the floor. Eventually he grabbed a mini cucumber and Adeline set him on the couch where he sat fairly quietly eating. Then we started with gifts. Bastien would go grab one and whoever got the gift would tell him who it was for.

My first big surprise was a gift from Adeline and Greg. I could tell it was some sort of book and made a guess of another recipe book. Not quite. It’s a book that they put together of my pictures from arrive until the end of November. Since I gave Adeline all my pictures there are two whole pages in the back of pictures of me when I was fooling around with hats and hair and self-taken picture camera angles. Not to mention silly faces. Embarrassing pictures, not intended for anyone to see :P. I happened to open to the back accidentally when I first opened it and saw those and made a sort of ‘oh no’ gasping sound. Adeline and Greg started laughing because they knew exactly what I had seen. It’s such an amazing gift. I actually cried a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever cried from receiving a gift before. So thoughtful and creative. It sure makes it easy to share my year with people! Of course there are no pictures from December, but she left a bit of blank space. I’ll have to print out and cut and paste a few in there. There’s even two pages of the boys with the tag line: kids grow up so fast (something like that) and the pictures start with Sylvain back when I got her and show the progression of the boys this year. It’s amazing to see the difference! And there are pages separated into the places I went, and even separate pages for food and drinks. I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

My year in pictures! What an amazing, thoughtful gift. ^_^

My next gift was just as surprising and no less meaningful. I didn’t know what it was at first because it was in a gift bag. Once I got that open I saw the inside and I knew – my Christmas Eve pjs! Let me back track a bit. Every Christmas Eve we have dinner with my Dad’s family. And every year from as far back as I can remember – and even farther – my Grandma has made pyjamas for all the grand-kids. The styles varied when we were younger. I remember seeing pictures of one year Lisa and I in long nightgowns with cute little, frilly sleeping caps. I think the pattern was little grey mice on white. And on the front of the nightgowns were our initials in glow-in-the-dark stuff (I don’t know what it was or what to call it). We looked so cute! Some years they were one piece, but mostly they were your average pants and button down top. In these last 5-7 years or so she’s just been making the pants and buying t-shirts that match the main colour of the pants because the pants we would all wear year round, but the tops hardly ever (I know Lisa and I really only wore them around Christmas just after getting them and then we’d just wear t-shirts anyway) so they looked new and the pants were worn. This makes sense and it’s also less work for my Grandma. I think one year a while ago she had considered stopping, but we made a bit of an uproar at that. And it’s not just my sister and I, but Josh and Aaron as well. And I’m sure Nicole and Ryan love them as much as we do. I did send an email yesterday saying that as much as we love them when Grandma needs to stop she’s not to feel like she has to keep making them just to please us. We can’t be that selfish.

My pjs! My two pairs here with me are green and the first thing Adeline said was 'they're not green!'. As you can see I hadn't even taken off the size sticker yet :P.

That’s not the only part of the tradition. Sometimes it changes, but the mostly we open the stockings (all homemade my Grandma) before supper. Then we eat and once things are all cleaned up and the extra table put away we all settle into the living room by the tree. Someone gets appointed to hand out gifts and they start with the pjs. Those are obvious to spot because a few years ago Grandma made these cloth bags with Velcro and our names sewn on them to put the pjs in. Such a ‘green’ idea (they’re actually green :P)! We wait until all of us ‘kids’ (the youngest is 20 now I think…I’m the oldest) have our packages and then we run off to find a place to change. Once we’ve all changed and are back in the living room we gather for a picture. Then we let the paparazzi do their thing and we just smile and look pretty. Josh and Aaron usually like to make a fuss. I’m not sure if they actually don’t like it or if they just like to liven things up a little.  Then we get down to business exchanging the other gifts. In the past couple of years we’ve decided – now that we’re all older – to do a Secret Santa type gift exchange. So at Thanksgiving we all write a few items on pieces of paper (lately they’ve been pre-prepared by Grandma with names and price limit and stuff – so organized!), put them in a container and do a draw. The funniest part is that we all know it’s coming, but we all forget so no one ever knows what to write and we spend a lot of time humming and hawing. It’s kind of funny actually. Another constant is socks. We always get socks from Grandma in another of her cloth, labelled bags. And usually some sort of homemade household item. Like the gifts Mom brought for Adeline, Sybille, and the others. The dish carriers. There’s a round one (with a drawstring and handles) and a rectangle one that has Velcro flaps and handles as well. Perfect for carrying hot dishes, but would work with cold too. They are of course labelled with name and date. I’ve got a lot of lovely mats to put under hot dishes and all kinds of other things (including a cloth checker board). My Grandma loves to sew and he family reap all the benefits. Thanks Grandma!

And here is my 'green' pj bag. You can sort of see my name on the bottom there. She actually did the same thing with Halloween - she made a little drawstring bag with a carved pumpkin face and our names to put candy in. Of course we always had to give them back afterwards!

 

So I opened up the pjs, but I didn’t put them on right away. That would have been just a tad awkward. That was oddity #1 in regard to the C.E. pjs. Oddity #2 was the fact that it was still daylight when I opened them. I emailed my Dad a few pictures so he could show Grandma and the family with his Blackberry. I guess my Mom had brought the pjs with her this summer. Way to go Grandma being so ahead of the game! I am so well-loved by my family. ^_^

As far as the boys’ routines with naps and such everything was thrown out of whack today and they were super tired. They were actually fed and in bed before 7. Woah. I do know that Bastien enjoyed himself. I did too. It was a good day. I’ve enjoyed all the family gatherings. I forgot to mention that Sylvain has a fascination with cleaning supplies and accessories. He would just stand there and watch Greg vacuum (sometimes tripping over the cord, sometimes being in the way). Then he did the same when Adeline mopped. Then again I guess he’s never really been home and awake when cleaning has taken place so it would be sort of new to him. And he does like to observe things. A lot.

Being away from the usual family traditions makes me realize even more how much I miss them, but also just what is all actually tradition and we just don’t think of it that way. What are some of your family traditions that you would miss if you went away?

 

                                                                                                                        

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