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December 25, 2001: Overdosed with merry

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This morning we got up, dressed, and crept out of the in-laws' house while it was still almost too dark to see. After the lateness of the Christmas Eve service the night before, the alarm rang far too early and I'm not sure either of us was fully awake until we'd been on the road for at least an hour or more. I kept myself awake singing along to BareNaked Ladies, while Richard dosed on and off beside me. The sun rose beside us - brilliantly pink and purple in the sky - but we were too tired to really do much more than point and nod and yawn.

A stop at home for quick showers and grabbing last minute items and then off to my parents' house for round two of holiday festivities. We arrived just as the three small people were opening their stockings…or rather, their parents were opening their stockings for them. My nearly-two niece and the 10-month old nephew were having far more fun with whirligigs, and the oldest nephew had absconded with his father's slinky and was having a grand time dragging that around the room.

The reason we got up so early to drive home this morning came later, at breakfast - plates full of my mom's sticky rolls, fresh from the oven. At least we weren't the only two looking half-awake, as the rest had the excuse of very small people for getting up so early.

And then on to presents. In my parents' house, it's a free-for-all type of affair. Usually the adults will try to go slow and pay attention to what the others are getting, but there's no kind of rhyme or reason to who opens which present, unless the gifter has a particular order for the receiver. There is laughter and shouts of 'oh, look!' from every corner of the room, and at least one member of each family who is in charge of writing down who gave what to whom so that thank you notes can be sent later. And then suddenly it is all over, except for neat piles of gifts, and a few of us gathering up all the paper and boxes and ribbons to dispose of them later, while the little ones play with whichever toy strikes their fancy, and my mom bustles around in the kitchen gathering up all the ingredients for lunch, trying to make things more 'elegant' than they need to be, even though every year we try to get her to just relax with the rest of us.

Richard really liked the grill I gave him (and the apron I made for him by converting a picture, cleverly drawn by EvilPheemy, of a flaming grill into an iron-on for the front), as well as the collection of classic monster movies. And I now have, among other things, a wave keyboard and optical mouse to play with, a box full of books to read, and a gorgeous new sweater from Richard (who has managed to prove several times now that he is very good at picking out stuff for me!). Bil-2 made my mom and I beautiful hand-carved wooden mirrors, and a set of hair picks, and we all once again racked our brains to figure out any possible way he could quit his job and do this for a living (the stuff looks like you could buy it in an expensive specialty store. He is *really* talented!).

The rest of the day was a slow and steady food fest. Overly stuffed with homemade cookies, fudge, candy, crackers and dip, and meatloaf with mashed potatoes and baby peas, we all still managed to find room for pie later on, after the kids had been put to bed and the adults could sit around the family room in an exhausted daze, glad it was finally over.

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