1991 was my first married Christmas. My hubby and I opened presents, then drove an hour to my parents' house.
We moved our family thirty miles south in 1997, and did what every family does: We compromised and every other year was spent at either his parents or mine.
But everyone agrees our favorite Christmas was 1998: We were snowed in. The kids were thrilled they could play with their toys; we fixed a leisurely lunch and put together the new TV/VCR cart. Built a fire in the fireplace and just relaxed.
2006 saw us moving into my MIL's house. D's father had passed in 2000 and his mother was now in the nursing home. And we were now three hours away from my parents, so trips were scheduled only every few months.
Sometimes we'll go up Christmas Eve; sometimes Christmas or the day after. A lot depends on the weather. I like it when my dad's side of the family has their party around the same time: One year we traveled to my aunt's house on Christmas Eve, and followed my parents to their home afterward. The following year, we reversed it. But this year, plans are up in the air. I know I want to go to Christmas Eve services at my home church, and hopefully Mom and Dad won't mind the addition of the two dogs.
And my aunt started a new tradition a couple of years ago when my cousin had separated from her husband. Since no one was in a festive mood, she decided to fix Italian food. So now instead of ham or turkey, she provides the pasta, meatballs, and choice of Marina or Alfredo sauce; the rest of us bring appetizers or desserts. But no word what's happening this year: My cousin's bitter divorce has been finalized, and I think she and her girls are living at home until they can find another house..
Our home isn't very festive this year either. My hubby's unemployment has run out; I can't seem to find anyone willing to hire me (okay, yes, I work in the bookstore. But it's on a volunteer basis!); I'm seriously considering wrapping up some forgotten toys to put under the tree for the youngling. He is on the Wish Tree at school and at church, so maybe someone will get him something nice. But for the first time in 19 years, there will be no presents under the tree for either myself, D, or our two older kids. That's why I want to go to Grandma's; so everyone will have something.
And besides, Christmas is about family, right? And what I dearly want for Christmas is a hot, steamy shower in a bathroom! Not to mention having my dryer fixed. So I predict I'll be doing laundry at Mom's...where I can wash and dry everything, not just the socks, underwear, and few choice clothing that I haul to a friend's house to put in her dryer!
Oh, and did I mention my birthday is a week from today? I'm also praying our cable, internet, and phone aren't shut off before the Survivor Finale. That's how I'll be spending my evening.