Saturday, December 17, 2011

Welcome to my family, sweetheart.

As Eric and I were lying in bed this morning, he reminded me of his first Christmas Eve with my side of the family. I laughed out loud as we recounted it because our families are so different.  Of course now that Eric and I have become our own family unit, we have developed our unique traditions which our children will come to remember, hopefully fondly, as they grow into young men.  Still, I have to giggle as I recount Eric's face on that Christmas Eve seventeen years ago.  He had no idea what to expect - though one would think that because it was with my family - it would certainly be quirky.

My husband's family enjoys a lovely Christmas Eve meal around a large table.  It's a somewhat calm event with the sound of football in the background, grandparents chatting in the family room, and nieces and nephews playing quietly outside.  His home is the picture of a Norman Rockwell family holiday.  Eric relishes these get-togethers.    

This particular year, my dear, soon-to-be fiance chose to forgo his Christmas Eve ritual and share it with my family.  Oh my.  It wasn't that he was walking into any less people, we both come from large families; however, it was the chaos factor that startled him.  My family has always been a little insane.

My parent's house had an extremely large family room with a wooden beamed 20 foot ceiling.  When Eric walked in, I was sitting at one end of the room in front of the Christmas tree and surrounded by several nieces and nephews.  There were mounds of torn wrapping paper on the floor, loud discussions from several family members over one another, high pitched, squealing laughter from my older brother, my dad was yelling at my brother to stop laughing, and my mom was asking deaf ears if anyone would like egg nog.  Complete and utter craziness.  Our eyes met, I saw the look of confusion on Eric's face, and I laughed outloud.  Welcome to my family, sweetheart.

I loved it.  The whole unnerving enchilada.  I wouldn't want my family any other way.  I could see how this would startle even the strongest of personalities, but if Eric loved me, he'd have to learn to love this too.

As the evening wore on and gifts were continued to be opened, I could sense Eric's wondering about dinner.  Nothing was in the oven.  All we were eating were crackers with Easy Cheese and mixed nuts.  Oh, Easy Cheese!  The moment this wondrous bottle came out and the processed goo started oozing onto our Wheat Thins, I thought Eric was going to run screaming into the night.  He remained steady. When the processed salami came out, my dear food snob even attempted a bite, but when my mother announced to put on our coats so we could head out for pizza - that was it.  He finally spoke up.  

"Um, excuse me?  We're having pizza for dinner?"

"Oh, Yeah.  We go every year, it's a tradition."

I almost pee'd my pants when I saw the look on his face.  He had given up his mother's roast turkey and stuffing for pepperoni pizza.  We drove to the restaurant in the pouring rain.  He was speechless. 

Uh oh, the place was closed!  For the first time in the history of the Bryant Family Christmas Eve Pizza Eating Tradition, our favorite pizza haunt had decided to close for the evening.  Rats!!  We ended up eating at McDonald's that night.  Big Mac Combo Meals and Hot Fudge Sundaes for everyone!  And, in classic Bryant style, because we were the only ones nutty enough to enjoy fast food for our holiday feast, we sang Christmas carols in the restaurant until we finished our meal.

Eric will never forget that Christmas Eve.  And why should he?  It was one of the best ones ever. 

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