Monday, December 11, 2006

It's Christmas Charlie Brown

Christmas is coming and I'm starting to look forward to it. Mostly, anyway. I just picked up the soundtrack recording for "A Charlie Brown Christmas," and that's going a long way to getting emotionally ready. Vince Guaraldi has a way of making me smile, no matter what the season.

Normally I'm just not a big fan of the Christmas season. I hate shoveling snow (and we tend to get a lot of it here in the Rockies), let alone driving in it. The bills pile up as more and more last minute gifts need to be gotten. (Begotten gifts? Hmmm.) The family parties don't do anything for me, either. I'm just not a big fan of my extended family. Don't get me wrong. I like them well enough. I just don't like being forced to do certain things with them.

When I was a kid, Christmas was both good, and bad. The good part was all the typical season stuff, singing carols, decorating the tree, making cookies and, of course, getting up on Christmas day to loads of new toys. I always despised the afternoon, though. Just when everything got settled and I could really dig into playing it was, "Okay John, get your coat on it's time to go visit [insert various relatives here]." By the time we got back is was late and my parents were pretty strict about bed time, even during Christmas vacation.

I hated that. I was going to see half of these people a week later on New Years day, why did I have to give up my Christmas day just to visit them early? Now that I'm older I understand that it was really my parents visiting them, not me. Most of those we visited didn't have kids my age, so there weren't many cousins to play with. Even when there were cousins involved, it was all their toys we played with, not mine. Trust me. As a kid, that's not fun.

Christmas is a big deal for my wife's family. Every year there are two big parties, one for her father's side of the family and one with just her parents and siblings. Once in a while we can get out of going to the first party, but never to the last one. What's worse is they've recently decided to move it to Christmas day.

It used to be on Christmas Eve. It was kind of cool. We'd drive out in the late afternoon, visit a bit with her parents, four siblings and their families, eat lots of food, sing songs and watch the kids open presents. There were bits I didn't like, but overall it was okay. On the way back home, we'd pop a CD recording of the Christmas Story performed by a group from the Living Scriptures Company, and listen to it on the way home. Instant family tradition. Once in a blue moon it was rescheduled, but mostly it was on Christmas Eve. That's it. Christmas day was saved for the wife and kids. Unless we had church that day, we didn't go anywhere. It was wonderful.

This year (and last, truth be told) that fickle bitch named Fate is out to ruin it for us. It looks like the party is being moved to Christmas Day, permanently. That sucks. The rest of my wife's siblings love it. "So and so has to work" and "We get bored after Christmas morning. We want to have it on Christmas Day!" are the exuces of the season.

They get bored? How? Didn't you and your kids just get a boatload of cool things and now you can relax and enjoy them? The key word here is "relax" people!

It seems that I'm outvoted, though. Our lovely family traditions must change becuase of a change in my wife's family's traditions. If you think I can make enough of a case for not giving in to everyone else's will, or just not show up, you've either never been married or won't continue to be married for very long. In the meantime, I'll just listen to Vince Guaraldi playing "Christmas Time is Here" and try to keep smiling.

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