Shit. Now I've got "Hammer Time" in my head. Hahahahahaha! Now you do, too. Suckers.
The family time whirlwind starts tomorrow for me. We're having Christmas for my mom's side of the family at the farm. Honestly, the only reason I'm going is because it's at our house. How shitty could I be to not go when my mom's hosting? I'm not staying long, but that's not the point here.
I don't like spending time with most of my mom's side of the family. Nor does anyone in our family, including my mom. Her parents were pretty shitty to her when she was growing up. They often left for the weekend (sometimes taking just one of her four younger sisters with them) and left my mom to take care of her sisters. That's just the tip of the iceberg. The older we get, the more mom tells us things that make it much easier to understand her relationship with her parents -- especially with her mom.
When my mom and dad got married, my grandparents didn't speak to them for six months because their Lutheran daughter went and married my Catholic dad. THE HORROR. I'm not entirely sure how old I was when I learned about this, but it kind of helped us to figure out that our grandparents were treating their Catholic-raised grandchildren (me and my siblings and three cousins) differently than they treated their grandchildren who were raised Lutheran. We always noticed that they bought our cousins better presents and spent more time with them and whatnot, but we were all fairly old when we finally put it all together.
There is a ton of animosity among my mom's sisters, too. Someone is always fighting with someone else and then they take sides and seriously? How the fuck old are you? DO NOT WANT. I really started noticing this when I came back from college for the first time. Nothing like a little distance to give you perspective.
At least we no longer exchange gifts. That got to be such a fucking joke. No one put any thought into it at all. It was just gift cards or "Tell me what you want and I will buy it for you." Neato!
Next weekend, though, will be awesome. Next weekend we do Christmas with my dad's side of the family. It's like night and day between the two. I love, love, LOVE spending time with my dad's side of the family. We all congregate in the kitchen, where we eat and drink and get loud and have a great time. It doesn't matter what the occasion is -- holidays, random visits, shit -- it's the same after a wake or a funeral.
This year we're doing something new, though. My siblings and I are hosting a party for our cousins the night before the whole family gets together. I'm really, really excited about this. We're all old enough now that we can start doing things on our own. We should be doing this, really (and we've been doing it on a small scale for a few years now), because our parents aren't going to be around forever and this is the way we can carry on our traditions and stay in contact. The response from our cousins has been great, too. I can't wait. Just like all of our family gatherings, there will be a ton of food and lots of drinks (it'll just keep getting more fun as our younger cousins turn 21) and we will get loud and have a blast. My brother apparently has some ideas cooking around, but won't tell us until we're all together tomorrow.
We do exchange gifts on my dad's side of the family and again, the difference is so stark. My cousins (or their parents) put a lot of thought into their gifts and I always get awesome stuff. I agonized for months about what to get my cousin The Piano Man and I finally think I came up with something good. Alas, the Wisconsin clan won't be making it, so I won't get to see if my gift is a success. Such is life when everyone has so many families and is spread out around the country.
After that, it's on to Christmas with the immediate family, which has lost a lot of its luster. All a part of getting older, I suppose. At least it's still fun to watch my nephew open presents. And when that's over? It's time to spend several days celebrating with my friends -- happy hours, pub crawls, New Year's Eve ... I can't wait, y'all.