This is the first Christmas I've come back to Ohio since I got married. It's also the first Christmas that I've been back in Ohio since my brother has been married and the first Christmas since Mom moved into her new digs.
It's really kind of weird. I mean, Geoff has been married for over 2 years now, I've been married over 3.5, but it really seems like kind of a shock not to have everyone at my mom's house. Of course, it's also been 4 years since my Dad told me that he and Mom were getting divorced and almost 7 since he moved out... so I guess in that sense, it's been 7 years since I had a Christmas like the sort that I grew up with... but each year it seems like I get a little bit further from my childhood.
Of course, stuff changes beyond just the house. Places open and close in Ohio, teachers have moved on and retired from my old high school, the "little kids" that I once went to church with are now 6 feet tall and 16 or 17 years old. I mean, the realities of my life are that things change and not just the things that I'd been hoping to see change. The prolonged absence makes it more noticeable.
So in a sense, I get to celebrate the fact that my family is bigger than it was before and (as much as she can drive me nuts), for the first time, I will get to celebrate Christmas morning with my brother's wife as part of the family. But at the same time, there is a pang of mourning that comes from my father's choice to leave us, the fact that we're not in the house that I once lived in (a mixed blessing to be sure), and the apparent toll that another year of hardship has taken on my mom and grandmother.
This month marks the 75th anniversary of the passage of the 22nd Amendment, which became law on December 5, 1933. As a partaker of alcohol in moderation, this pleases me.
That said, I wish I could have been a bootlegger.
or "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Little Children"
Actually... that's a patent falsehood. I love my niece and nephew, but I'm sure glad I don't have a 6-year-old and 3-year-old living with me full-time.
I would like to note that I have some of the best in-laws of anyone I know. My father-in-law was on vacation and still managed to help me with (read: do most of the work) home improvement projects. My mother-in-law did easily half of the cooking and 90% of the dishes. My sister-in-law... well, she kept and eye on the kids. And my brother-in-law kept buying lunch and alternated with me as we played Wii Sports with the niece and nephew and showed only the lack of compassion that two childless 20-something males can as we beat a whiny little child in direct correlation to the amount he whined. Oh, and my father-in-law kept buying stuff for me, which was awesome and MUCH appreciated.
On Thanksgiving day, Anna's cousins from Madison came out as well as her aunt from Chicago and aunt and uncle from Milwaukee, their daughter and her fiancÚ. Much food was ate by all, oyster dressing was tried for the first time by many (with no converts that I'm aware of), and we ended up with enough pies that there was 1/2 of a pie for each adult in attendance.
Really, there were too many great things for me to sum them up all here and now, but suffice it to say that I am duly impressed (again) by my in-laws.
Oh... and it's SNOWING!!!