christmas....part one

i am home.
i grew up most of my childhood in leawood, but then my parents moved to nixa,mo when i graduated from college. now home is where the parents are.
most of my extended family lives in springfield and the towns that surround it, so it makes for a busy, busy holiday schedule. this year all of my parents siblings and all of their kids and all of their kids kids are home, so there is a ton of family in town.
i got here yesterday around 11:40. i got out of my car and directly into my sister's car with bella-my three year old niece, reed- my four month old nephew, my mother and my sister. after struggling to get bella strapped in for way too long we were off to meet my mom's best friend for lunch "in town" (springfield) and i was squished into the third seat of my sister's SUV. i learned quickly that baby boy will giggle at me if i make kissey faces at him and read bella a book.
i can't explain how amazing it is to see him. just being him. a normal little guy.
no tubes.
no machines.
no looming fear.

we ate at mexican villa.
we drove back to nixa.
at 4:45 heather and i decided it was time for wine.
i finished two paintings, one for a cousin and one for my granny.
then my cousins (torre and her daughter alex) came over to bake and love on the babies. so at this point there are nine of us in a fairly small space. we were all tripping over each other and cats and dogs and presents and god knows what else.
heather and torre made a peppermint cake, that when completed (which it still is not) will look like a 3D santa standing up.
when the cake was done baking torre called us over to "smell him".
mom decided that we needed to write a song entitled "come and smell him" to the tune of "come all ye faithful".
this is why i love my family.
i sprawled out on the living room floor and alex (15 y.o.) came and sat on me and then bella sat on my legs behind her.
and then bella told alex she had a big bottom.
amazing. i love three year olds.
after that bella wanted to ride me like a pony. i told her i was pooped.
she checked my pants and informed me that i had not pooped.
thank you bella.
after this torre and alex left and we had some time to kill.
my dad's best friend has grown out his long white beard this holiday season and has been playing santa at various events around town.
tonight he would be making a special stop at our house to see bella.
while waiting for him to come we put on some big band christmas tunes and bella insisted that we all get up and "shake our booties".
she also gave us all christmas names.
she picked snowflake for my dad.
i nearly pissed myself.
while snowflake was not his first choice, he danced anyway as he is putty in her teeny tiny little hands.
after i, red reindeer, had damn near broken a charleston-induced sweat the doorbell rang.
bella answered it with dad and there he was....santa.
she jumped into his arms and gave him a huge hug and kept patting his back.
as precious as it was, i couldn't help but think how easy it would be to kidnap children during the holidays.
all you need is a beard and a santa suit.
i am horrible. i know.
after santa left bella recounted the whole thing for us. and then informed us that "that santa was a different one".
smart little girl. but she didn't care.
i excused myself to the office/bedroom to inflate my bed before they put the kids down.
i returned to the living room in time to catch a conversation about your favorite product and mine, the shamwow.
dad wants one.
"i wish i had one. i don't know why i just don't dial the number one of these nights"
i wish i knew he wanted one, because i would have bought him one just so i could spill shit and clean it up and see if it really is as amazing as i hope it is.
i got my christmas pajamas for the year....snow globes from across the country.
pretty impressive.
the kids went to sleep and we talked about how lucky we all are to have everyone home this year and how it will probably never happen again.
how heather and tony will not always come home.
and how i may, at some point, have another family to keep in mind.
or as i put it "at some point some one may be crazy enough to marry my dumb ass"
i finally retired to my room around 11 and wrapped presents for today...christmas with dad's side at grandma's.

christmas: part one- act one
mom had to be at grandma's at nine to start breakfast. i wanted to go with her so i could see my cousin brooke that was in town from NYC with her husband and baby for as long as possible. we would be leaving at 8:30. i informed my sister and brother in law that i would need to shower in the morning. as in a i am going early and i need to shower first situation. mom said she would wake me up at 8:00.
i set my alarm for 7:45.
i woke up.
sister was in the shower.
i get in the shower, get dressed and come out and my dad is like are you ready?
obviously i am not.
my hair is soaking wet in a towel and i am sure my face was less than amused.
i ask what time it is.
i inform him that he is 10 minutes early and that i would be ready when i said i would at 8:30.
they still needed to run an errand that mom thought he ran yesterday.
i am annoyed.
i will ride with heather and tony.
we get there and it is a house full! grandma, uncle tom, brooke, bobby, elizabeth cate, aunt cathy, shelby, carlie, kayla, kelsy, uncle tracy, aunt verlene, hannah, caitlin, mom, dad, heather, tony, reed, bella and i.
the majority of the list above ranges in ages 16 years-4 months. there were bodies everywhere.
and then it happened...
for the first time in twenty six years...
my grandma turned to me and said "so, where is your boyfriend?"
i am the last of the granddaughters (over 16) that does not have a husband, or a kid, or both.
it kinda stung all though i know she never meant it to.
the little girls sat at the kids table.
the adults sat in the dining room and i sat at the kitchen table, where i usually sat with brooke and our other cousin sarah, who was not there yet.
my uncle tracy commented on me being at the in-between table.
LISTEN HERE ASSHOLES! i am a fucking adult.
i am a single, childless, twenty six year old adult.
i spent the rest of my morning wandering through grandma's house, latching onto a conversation here and there, picking up babies and handing them off and getting things for the little girls.
i felt kinda weird. like everyone else had a partner and i didn't.
it felt like a chapter out of one of our chick lit book club reads.
i still don't know if i am proud or upset.
once my last two cousins arrived from work we opened presents.
it is so odd how prepared for death my grandmothers seem.
(both my grandfathers have been gone for quite some time.)
always making comments about how it is better to give us this or that now, rather than when they are dead, so they can see us open it.
this year it was her quilts.
these are her most prized possessions.
she gave the littlest girls their sunbonnet sue quilts.
all of us older girls got them for our 13th christmases.
it is sad to think that she won't be here for theirs.
that they have to have them now because who knows about next year.
it is heart wrenching to think of the holidays without these amazing women.
reed got a different kind of quilt. one with little farmer men on it, as a sunbonnet sue is not fitting for our little man.
then grandma gave all of the rest of us a quilt from her collection.
i got a neck tie quilt.
i love it.
grandma also gave caitlin and hannah (who are 16 and 14) the book about her that she gave the rest of us a few years ago.
i sat down and read caitlins...i don't know if i ever read mine all the way through.

i didn't know my great grandpa used to play santa at church.
i always forget my grandma's first name is mary, not rosalee as i know her.
she is named after her grandmas, mary and rosa.
i asked where the lee came from.
she doesn't know.
but it was passed down to my father, michael lee and to me, terra lee.
as we passed the picture of she and her sister as children she began to talk about how much she misses barb, who passed away last year. that barb would call her everyday, usually in the morning because she knew that grandma would be out the door running around all day. i almost lost it.
i read about my grandpa dale. about their long distance courtship while he was in the navy. about how he proposed. about the first things he said to her when he saw her again. about the man he was while he was alive and how hard it was to lose him so young.
i can't help but cry as i write this now, tucked back in my little corner, with my headphones on scrambling to record these memories before they fade away.

this christmas feels different.
this christmas is different.
and it is different mainly for the reason that it feels like after this one it will never be the same.

it is bittersweet.
and a lot to take all on my own.
sometimes i really wish i had a partner in all of this...

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