Part One: Christmas Eve at Dad's
We woke up the morning of the 24th to a peaceful feeling of knowing there is time off of work, and family with whom to spend that time. That is, until I remembered that I had agreed to bring cheese biscuits and sausage balls to my dad's for our Christmas Eve get-together, and that I had no cheese, sausage, or bisquick in the kitchen. Phooey on whole foods and fresh vegetables-- I needed artery-clogging southern goodness, and fast! So, figuring it was a family day, I took my daughter with me to go brave the Super Wal-Mart Christmas Eve morning madness. This being my first time going to our town's Wal-Mart on a big shopping holiday, I wasn't sure what to expect. In Orlando, I once made a "quick run" to Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve, and was in the store for 3 hours (1 hour of which was spent at the checkout). Anyway, it was busier than usual, but not bad.
Seeing as I'm trying to be a bit healthier, I picked up the "heart healthy" bisquick, which solved one of my challenges. The other: I hate pork. And it's nasty. And it's gross. So, I made a speed run through the produce section to get some soy sausage substitute, which promised to taste just like sausage. But, realizing that my dad's family is a pretty meat-and-potatoes kind of family, I didn't think I could pull off soy sausage balls without suffering severe emotional or possibly physical retaliation at future Christmas celebrations. So, I also picked up some hot and spicy Tennessee Pride sausage. Bllluuuuuuuuuuueeeeeeeeech. (translation: I might vomit when I have to stick my hands in this.)
We found a self-checkout with NO LINE at all, and were on our way home.
After whipping up cheese biscuits (Yum!), and veggie sausage balls (which really did taste like real sausage and 1/2 of which were devoured by my family before we even left the house), and real sausage balls (m..bl..uuuuuuuuuech), we loaded the kids, the presents for my dad's family, and the tupperwares full of varieties of baked cheese into the car and were one our way. The kids had been fighting a bit, and the oldest had just lost gamecube privileges for the rest of the day (which on Christmas Eve, is a curse beyond all curses). So, we left about 45 minutes earlier than usual, figuring we'd drive around looking at pretty houses (there's lots of big, old, beautiful, wraparound porch, pastures with horses kinds of houses near my dad's), and that possibly the kids might fall asleep and nap a bit. Fat chance. We spent the entire 45 minutes listening to a 9 year old's take on the effectiveness, fairness, implementation, and occasional misuse of loss of privileges as a disciplinary tool. Sometimes I hate being the parent of a gifted child.
After we had been at dad's for a while, my 9 year old children's rights activist decided to be part of the family again, and things definitely went up from there. Since my dad's family had just returned from Branson, Missouri, the night before, we feasted on a huge spread of crackers, cheeses, dips and spreads, and it was wonderful! We opened presents (Daddy-O got a new 3-person tent for his Scouting trips with Funky Monkey, and did I mention I got an iPod?), and then headed home to finish the celebration. Oh-- the greatest presents of them all? We were given homemade blankets for all of our beds. Apparently, my stepmom has spent the last 6 months working on hand-crocheted blankets for each of us-- bright blue and red squares for Short Stuff, pink and purple squares for Sassy Pants, muted blue and woodsy green zig zags for Funky Monkey, and a gorgeous cream blanket big enough to fit our bed for me and Daddy-O. The fact that someone would take that kind of time to make something so precious for my family blows my mind, although it does not surprise me coming from someone as sweet and sentimental as my stepmom.