Tuesday night we drove down to Richard's parents' house to start the holiday festivities. After we'd had a chance to bring in our luggage and presents, and just as they tantalized me with a copy of one of the worst of those cheesy newspapers you see at checkout lines, we all piled into the car to go look at lights. It was hard to leave this particular cheesy tabloid behind, but that was because on the front cover there were 'exclusive' pictures from Osama and Saddam's gay love nest (yes, my thoughts exactly), and even better, a huge two-page spread on how scientists have found garden gnomes and plastic flamingos on the moon. I think the highlight of that article came near the end when a scientist was quoted (anonymously, of course) as being disgruntled about the discovery because they were 'making our solar system look tacky'.
Anyway, lights. We went to look at lights in this one part where they do it up huge every year. Except that apparently we picked the same night every one else in the surrounding three counties decided to see the lights as well and the traffic getting into the park was horrendous. We wiled away the time yelling out the names of the stores as we inched our way past them, and occasionally dancing in the seats. Yeah, I fit into this family far too well.
Wednesday was a nice and mostly lazy day. Everyone got up as they felt like it, and we all lounged around in the living room drinking coffee and talking (or in my case, not so much talking – since my voice still wasn't at its best – as knitting). Richard and his sister painted cookies – a task I have taken part in before but decided against this year due to being sick. Eventually Richard's older sister and her fiancé showed up so we could eat lunch and get busy with the opening of presents.
The preceding years we've done the Christmas Eve festivities in the evening, and it's tended to be rushed. Plus it meant that after dinner and presents and everything else, Richard and I never got home much before 1 or 2 in the morning, meaning we were more likely to be tired and grouchy the next day. This year things were so much more relaxed and I think we all felt like we got more time to just sit and talk and enjoy being together.
Before we were ready, it was time to head for the airport. Richard's parents very nicely volunteered to drive us so we wouldn't have to deal with finding parking for the car, and we got there with plenty of time to spare. Then it was on to the extremely full plane, where I got to remind myself how much fun it isn't to fly with clogged sinuses, and then we were landing in Seattle. The original plan had been to go directly to my little sister's house, but by the time we'd landed, my head was hurting and I was feeling pretty lousy. I love my sinuses. Really I do. I am sure of it. So my brother-in-law took us directly to our hotel instead, where we checked in, climbed the stairs to our room, figured out how to turn on the heat, plugged in the laptop and checked our email (because lousy feeling or not, I am still a nerd) and then finally went to sleep.
Because there were three very small people under the age of 6 at my little sister's house, my parents and we had to get up and get there fairly early. The kids were surprisingly patient, considering that there were stockings hanging with candy canes peeking out the tops, and piles of presents under the tree. But finally everyone was ready and stockings were emptied, and frankly, if it were up to my niece and my oldest nephew we could have stopped there, because the highlight toy of the season were these silly plastic lizards with tongues that stuck out when you squeezed them. And for the rest of the time we were in Seattle, they amused themselves for hours chasing each other around the house, having their silly plastic lizards eat invisible mosquitoes and flies.
All three of the kids are old enough now to have fun with Christmas. My oldest nephew (who is 5) is quite the good reader, so he got a lot of books. The niece, who will be four next month, got a train set which drew excitement from all three of the kids. And the nutcrackers that my dad brought back from Germany made a huge hit – at least with the two older kids. And it was fun to watch all of them – to see their excitement with each package, and to see that they were all able to watch other people opening presents and get excited about those as well.
The rest of the day was spent being comfortably lazy. I sat on the couch and knit, or read books. Everyone else talked or read or napped. Eventually we all crowded around the dinner table for the wonderful dinner my little sister cooked, and ate until we were all far too full. Then more sitting around, stuffed and sleepy and still having fun watching the kids play with their lizards, or my nephew's new walkie talkies, or the train set, until those of us in the hotel headed back to try to get some sleep in preparation for the after-Christmas combat shopping the next morning.