For Saturday, December 17, 2011
This year we arrived around noontime and after a few minutes spent playing with the newest addition to the family, little Jack, who turned a year old a month ago, we all settled into the living room and began exchanging presents. This was made all the more fun with the traditional tags, a bit of an inside joke within the family that doesn’t need sharing to those who might not appreciate the humor of the silliness, and the final presentation of money envelopes, “Just like Papa and Mana used to do”, said Eric's Dad. After the usual oohing and aahhing over pretty hand-made gifts and/or other thoughtful items, we set our presents aside and dove into my mother-in-law’s traditional lasagna dinner, salad, rolls, and pumpkin bars.
Harry the dog enjoyed some attention from the children and Eric and his sister and father headed downstairs and ended up looking through old photo albums together. Joel and Chad unpacked Paul’s remote control helicopter and showed him its features as the two of them flew the copter around the room above our heads. Emma lounged on the couch and Barbara and I found ourselves drifting off and sneaking in a short snooze during the temporary quiet. When everyone returned to the living room, we took pictures of each little family within the larger group and laughed when Paul’s helicopter made it into a few of the shots.
Before long it was time for Marissa’s family to head home. We all lamented the early setting of the sun and how we all hate to drive home in the dark. We packed up our presents and said our goodbye’s shortly after. Another Christmas had come and gone quickly but it had been such a pleasant and happy afternoon with everyone.
Each time I gather with family these days I count my blessings. Eric’s parents are so very lucky to have their three children make every effort to gather together a few times each year. Their simple gatherings have grown in size to accommodate spouses and children but the relaxed and laugh-filled celebrations of family is never compromised. The comforting ease to our time together is a true credit to Eric’s parents and to the three children, Eric, Lisa, and Joel. As I looked into the backseat where our own three children sat on the ride home I said a silent prayer that as they grow older, they’ll continue to find their way back to our home with their spouses and children...and that our time together will be as easy-going and as joyous as are the times at my in-law’s.