A Loving Christmas

My family is wacky. What family isn’t? Not only are my loved ones completely loco, they’re loco on all branches! My family tree is so diverse that choosing who to spend Christmas with has become a chore in itself. But there is one place where my family of 5 always goes on Christmas Eve; my grandparents.
Now to clarify, I have three different sets of grandparents, and each set is still alive and kicking (heck, one can even run and jump the stairs, and he turns 76 on New Year’s Eve!) But the one I’m referring to are my dad’s mom and stepfather.
Every year we go up to my grandparents’ with presents in tow, where we meet my 5’ 1” grandmother and my 6’ 2” grandfather. My grandmother dotes about the kitchen making a good ole southern homemade breakfast: sausage, cheesy eggs, chocolate gravy, biscuits, and more! My grandmother is barely 68, and yet is such a strong-willed (if tiny) woman who loves her kids and grandkids more than life itself.
After initial helloes and hugs, my aunt is there to squeeze and tease. Being my dad’s half-sister and younger by 16 years she barely 31, and she’s the typical FUN AUNT. Tattoos,  piercings, gaudy jewelry, heeled boots and kinky-curly hair, my aunt looks emo-grown-up to the untrained eye. But underneath all of that, you see the ink she chose to put on her body: Love, Faith, and a tribute Hawaiian tattoo to our recently deceased great-aunt (my grandmother’s older sister; died of liver cancer this July) added with a fairy— designed by your’ s truly— to celebrate a divorce from a suffocating marriage. You can see the strong soul and gentle heart within the rough-looking exterior. She’s a hugger and a soapboxer, but she’s my favorite aunt.
After breakfast (where all eight of our fat assess are gathered around a tiny table in a tiny kitchen in a 2-story 100-year-old house that looks barely 40) we open presents. I sit in my annual seat on the brickwork in front of the mantle, my sister in the hall next to the stairs, my mom and dad across the room on opposite ends of the couch with my aunt snuggled in between, my grandfather next to me in his chair sticking stray bows on his bald head, and my grandmother up and about handing out gifts.
Because we know each other so well, we all get something we love or need. My haul this year was a set of acrylic and oil paints, brushes, small 10x10in canvases, a book, a 5lb block of elastic molding clay, and jewelry galore—a few more pairs of jeans don’t hurt either. My sister was similar, except she goes for the knitting/crochet/cross stitch type. My brother had action figures, and I’m sure my parents were satisfied with their haul too.
When presents are done we attack the desserts—which, again, are all homemade—and we spend the entire day together. We are so close as a family that looking at each other is like looking in a mirror. I love Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day, for the simple traditions that are kept every year—and the family that we get to share those traditions with. Laughter and smiles is what makes my days so wonderful, and spending those moments together makes them the most cherished.

But usually when you see your parents acting like little kids again is when you laugh the hardest.

Calcified eagle taken from a lake in Tanzania. It’s surface is so mirror-like that any animals flying over it get confused and flap pot straight into its waters, where the extremely high alkaline levels turn living creatures into this.

Calcified eagle taken from a lake in Tanzania. It’s surface is so mirror-like that any animals flying over it get confused and flap pot straight into its waters, where the extremely high alkaline levels turn living creatures into this.