19 December 2011

On Families, Ramps, Sprouts and Sock Puppies...

This weekend was the annual Christmas gathering of my mother's side of the family. In fact, they get together four times a year, but the Christmas gathering has been special in my mind since I was a child. While it was always good to see my extended family, it was especially good to see my cousins...specifically my cousin Sandy. He is about 11 years older than I am, and is the youngest of the cousins on that side of the family.

My sister and I have always been in between our cousins and first cousins in age. Susan is closer to our first cousins in age, especially on my father's side of the family, but I'm sort of out on my own. I was too little to hang with my teenage cousins, and by the time they had kids I was too big to do anything but babysit those kids. But Sandy always treated me like an equal, and as a result was one of my favourite family members.

I remember once he came to visit me at Young Harris College. We hung out and talked and then later he sent me a cassette tape recording of a song he'd written for me, inspired by that afternoon. I mean who wouldn't be totally chuffed to have a cousin like that?

Sandy has a physically debilitating condition that lately has caused him to use a wheelchair, and as a result wasn't going to be able to come to the family gathering this Christmas because there is no way into Mom and Dad's house that doesn't involve steps. Mom and Dad started calling around and found a place that would build them a ramp, free of charge, for Sandy to use to come in the house. Dad and I put it together and got it all strapped in and sturdy, and Sandy got to join the rest of us for Christmas.

Of course, in typical Nancy style, as he rolled into the kitchen grinning ear to ear I said "Oh, did the ramp work?" Um, duh. He's IN THE KITCHEN, dummy.

I sort of feel a sense of let down now that this event is over because for the past week I've been eating, sleeping, and breathing McDonald Family Christmas, trying to help Mom and Dad get ready for Saturday. I ordered my presents early so that I could concentrate on this and on getting ready to go see Simon (a week from right now I'll be there...), and two of them, both from Barnes & Noble, gave me fits trying to get sorted. Mom's gift was reported as on back order and I was given the option to cancel it. I did, and then got an email that it couldn't be canceled because it was on the way. Mind you, between canceling and receiving the email, I went out and bought another one. Grr.

The last straw was Joy's present. I had ordered the most perfect neck pillow for her to use on their impending trip to the UK after Christmas. It was a tiger, and was pink and purple and had a big, cartoony face, and, as you will remember, was perfect. In the mail I got an ugly yellow tiger that wasn't even remotely like the one I ordered. So on Friday night, Dad and I went out to find something else for Joy. The look on her face the next day when she saw what would come to be named "Sock Puppy" was worth all the angst over the neck pillow gone wrong (as was her reaction to her Dora Umbrella and matching pink neck pillow from Auntsie and Uncle Simon).

One tiny note: I made roasted sprouts and bubble & squeak for my family to try as representatives of British cooking, thinking that I'd be eating all of it and honestly being pretty pleased to do so.  It isn't easy being a vegetarian during holidays that revolve around food.  To my surprise, by the time that I got to the food, a great deal of the sprouts and potato cakes were already gone and there was nothing left of them at the end of the meal.  They liked it!  Next Christmas I hope that Simon will be here to cook his own British food for them.

So one Christmas down...and one very, very important Christmas Day with my very, very perfect husband to go. Happy Yule, y'all. Happy Yule.

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