The Christmas gatherings are drawing nearer. Today is our white elephant exchange and Hanukkah lunch. I look forward to our Hanukkah lunch for weeks. It's SO YUMMY.
Saturday is Christmas with Andrew's dad's extended family.
Sunday is Christmas with Andrew's mom's extended family.
Christmas Eve and morning will be spent with Andrew's immediate family.
The 29th will be with my immediate family.
The 30th will be with friends.
January 2nd will be with my mom's extended family.
Andrew and I are both hermits by nature. These things wear us out. There's all the politeness and smiling and chatting with people we haven't seen since the last major holiday.
We talked last night about the fact that most of the Christmas shows focus on the awkwardness of spending time with family. (We watched The Big Bang Theory and Accidentally on Purpose yesterday.) There's a reason the writers focus on that: It's what resonates with the viewers. For the most part, we're all in the same boat. We all have awkward relationships with someone we are related to, and being with them over the holidays makes it stranger because we have an internal picture of how the holidays are supposed to be that never ever ever matches reality.
So, in an exercise aimed to reduce the crazy, I am going to try to focus on the things for which I'm most grateful. Today I'm going to talk about the friends because it's easiest.
We have the most amazing group of friends on the planet. The core of it are people who went to high school together, and we've added others as they came along. We have a history, which is nice (most of the time) because it helps us to understand one another. We all still genuinely like one another despite the fact that we're not at all the people we were when we met.
Brandy is honest and loving and not afraid to laugh. She is most like the kid at Christmas--excited and sure she's opened the most fantastic gift on the planet. She's also the easiest for whom to shop. I can't tell you how many times Andrew or I have seen something, turned to the other, and said, "Brandy would love this." It's usually followed by, "Yes, she would. Too bad we've bought her presents for the next several gift-giving occasions." It's extremely difficult not to buy her a gazillion gifts, and we only partially succeed at that.
Rachel is the only mom in our group, and she gives me hope that our species isn't screwed. She's such a good parent that it's dizzying to me. She's also the most fun to knit for because she believes knitting is magic, and that makes me a sorcerer. She loves food in a way that makes me remember that food is sometimes more than just food. She's the one I called when I was having a freak-out about turning 30 because I knew she'd talk me down from Crazy Town. She did.
Kyle is my oldest and dearest friend. We went through ten years of 4-H together ("I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world." I tried to stop typing and just put an ellipsis, but I couldn't.) He was the one I called at three in the morning the day after my dad died because I couldn't sleep and the world was spinning. He's the friend most likely to whoop up a table so it resembles something out of a magazine. He's a fantastic cook. He's also really laid back, which is a blessing considering I'm.... well, not.
Holly is my next oldest friend, although we got off to a rocky start due to her winning a Captain Crunch contest in second grade. I was extremely jealous. Holly has the best sense of style, and I sometimes find myself dressing up a bit around her. (I once wore heels with jeans around her. It was odd.) She's the most adventurous and the one who is most afraid of math.
Franklin is Rachel's partner in life and my partner in vegetarianism. He's much less annoying about his vegetarianism than I am, and I strive to be more like him in that way. He's also a religion nerd, so we're connected in that way as well. He's the poet in the group, and also the only one to watch wrestling.
There are a couple more people who are recent additions. Tom is smart and funny and kind and loves Holly to bits. I always enjoy hanging out with him and wish he lived closer--although I admit this is partly because I think I could wear some of Holly's clothes. Dan is a science nerd, which I love, and loves baseball, which I also love, and is completely obsessed with Star Wars, which I love making fun of.
Andrew finishes up the group, and he's my favorite person on the planet. He's smart, kind, and steady as a rock. (Damn that commercial for ruining a good phrase.) He loves me despite the fact that I'm a very different person that the one he started dating 13 years ago. He is the person I would most want to work with on a project. He's a computer genius, which has come in handy more times than I can count. I often realize how lucky I am to be with him as we are weird in much the same ways. I love him more than I love knitting and chocolate put together.
I am grateful. I am so lucky to have these people in my life, and I'm going to hold on to these thoughts when I'm having an uncomfortable conversation with a cousin or aunt or sister's ex-husband.
Merry Christmas, everybody.