I did an article for Metro Parent magazine’s December issue on how local families make holidays special and meaningful. And I almost bit through my bottom lip that I couldn’t share personal anecdotes for the piece. Good thing I have my own blog.
On the Campbell side, there is a tradition to exchange “table gifts.” On labor day, every family member draws a name, then each person makes a gift for whoever they drew. We open the gifts at the table during Christmas dinner.
This year, I drew Debbie, my mother-in-law.
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it here, but my in-laws are locked in an epic battle with the squirrels in their yard. They call them “diablo” squirrels. Apparently squirrels dig holes in the lawn and ruin it. I never noticed, probably because my lawn is never nice enough to ruin. Or maybe the dog is pooping in the holes, thereby covering them up. Anyhoo, Larry and Debbie set live traps for those cute little critters (L & D are vegetarians, so killing them is not an option) and relocate them across the river. Ben and I think this battle is sort of funny and, um, futile. So, for Debbie’s table gift, I was able to do something really nice and yet mock her at the same time. I made her these:
Ben drew my name. While I was inside by the fire knitting squirrel mittens, Ben was out in his shop with the oxyacetylene torch making me this:
My mind was thoroughly blown. Ben has never worked with stained glass before, much less with braising brass fittings to create a screw top and bottom to insert the candle. And, he knows me well enough to use the lead-free sauter — one wouldn’t want to poison oneself or family, now would one?
Nora made a vintage inspired Christmas ornament for her great-grandpa (she calls him Great Papa), and got a perfectly girly hand painted jewelry case from her Aunt.
Then we ate a scrumptious dinner cooked by Debbie and my sister-in-law Elizabeth. That’s right, I didn’t have to cook. And I even remembered to help clean up afterwards instead of just rushing for the gift pile.
On the Burdick side, I was a little worried about my nephews being able to warm up to me in a hurry since they only see me twice a year. So I bought a face painting kit complete with a book of how-to diagrams for the artistically impaired (me) and pulled it out of my bag as soon as we got there. My nephew, Sameer, who’s Nora’s age, got to choose whatever he wanted from the book and I got to hold his sweet face in my hands while he held still.
I also painted a monkey with its tail curled around my mom’s arm, but forgot to snap a picture of it. Eventually, the kids seized the paint tray and started painting one another’s legs. Then the grown kids got down to playing some Beatles Rockband on the Xbox. This is the only thing we have that resembles a tradition as we’ve done it three years in a row. This year, however, someone was smart enough to hide the microphone from me. And we made a whole mess of tamales for Christmas dinner.
All-in-all, I couldn’t have asked for a better or more memorable holiday.
Happy New Year!