Today and tomorrow I'm making my final preparations for the big day. I have a friend's kid over here this morning, and later they will go to my friend's house so I can wrap the last presents and get them all organized. Tomorrow morning, I'll go to the grocery store and buy all the yummy goodies we'll eat. We always have cinnamon challah french toast on Christmas morning, with bacon and orange juice (and maybe a splash of champagne...) So delicious. Then, I have bowls of things to munch on throughout the day, like chexmix (out of the bag, good and salty) m&ms (delicious when you mix them with chexmix) clementines, cold cuts, yum yum yum. I'm feeling more and more Christmasy just by thinking about all the food. Typical me.
I grew up celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve since my family is German, so Christmas Eve we'll go to my parent's house with all their gifts. My mom used to make a goose for dinner, and then we'd have to wait while she cleaned the kitchen to open presents. It was excruciating as kids. I guess it never occurred to us to help her clean the kitchen to speed things up... Now she makes rolladen, which is thinly sliced beef wrapped around a pickle and an onion braised and cooked to within an inch of its flavorful life. It is served with boiled potatoes, red cabbage and green beans. This is not a meal I relish. Starting in my late teens, I decided that I should have a meal I could really look forward to rather than suffering through German food that I can't stand, so I started getting myself take out chinese food, or pizza, and I was happy as a clam. This year, I'm going to get myself a crab, mix some mayonnaise and curry powder to dip the crab in, and eat up. I'm salivating just thinking about it. Again with the food. God, I'm predictable.
While the kitchen is being cleaned, Leila and I will cut up little pieces of paper and write numbers 1 -5 on them, fold them up, and the family will pick numbers out of my dad's santa hat, and this will decide in what order presents are opened. It is all very orderly and civilized; we are German, after all. Once the dishwasher is running, and we all have a drink in our hands (my dad cannot rest of someone doesn't have a glass in hand) we start opening presents. Leila usually bargains with whoever picked the number one out of the hat and gets to go first. The dogs get gifts too, and we all go in order, and my dad jumps up every ten minutes asking if anyone wants some port wine/acquavite/champagne/ and is disappointed when you ask for water. Also, whenever its his turn to open a gift, he picks at the scotch tape and the ribbon for an eternity, and then says, "Maybe I'll open this tomorrow." He thinks he's hilarious, and Leila goes for it every time.
I love Christmas Eve. I like it better than my birthday. My grandmother used to come from Germany over Christmas and she was such a kick. You could wrap up a dog turd for her, and she would think it was the best thing she ever got. She would put all the ribbon around her neck and on her head, and do Jaeger shots with my brother. Makes her sound like a lunatic, but she just loved to party. I don't remember the last time she had Christmas with us, but the last time she came to visit was in 1996 for my wedding. She was already old as the hills, and she didn't really know who was getting married, but she still loved to party. She died in February of this year, at 104. I hadn't seen her since my wedding, and she wouldn't have known me if I had, but I did think she'd live forever.
Then, on Christmas morning, we wait for Leila to wake us up. In past years, she has gotten up, walked right past the presents under the tree to the bathroom, and then gone back into her room and played with whatever she opened on Christmas Eve. I have decided to continue the tradition of torturing her by making her wait to open presents until we've eaten our delicious breakfast, but so far she hasn't minded. I think this year will be different though. She's already checking her stocking. I will put a bra on under my pajamas and throw a little make up on so I don't look like a total mutant in photos, and we will take turns opening stuff.
In the afternoon, we'll get dressed (or not) and drive over to my mother-in-law's and hang with her and my brother-in-law and the little cousins. I am inexplicably looking forward to this. We haven't hung out with the cousins on Christmas for five years, and I think it will be fun. We'll get chinese food (well, I'm getting chinese food, they can get whatever they want) and that then its all over but the thank you notes.
I'm more in the spirit after writing this, and I can't put off cleaning the kitchen and throwing a dark load in the washer any longer. Merry Merry!