This will be my very first Christmas away from the big extended family get togethers. For the last few years, I would go to my mother in law's house and start making tamales the week before or the week of Christmas. We would divide and conquer. Mom makes the very yummy red chile meat, we (sometimes, if allowed) made the masa, then we would all spread masa on the corn husks or hojas and Mom would fill them with meat and fold them. We would make about 12 to 15 dozen tamales. Sometimes we'd make green corn ones too.
We'd have a Christmas party where we would have a white elephant exchange and laugh at the clever gifts. Usually it's something odd, or funny but sometimes it was something that was actually useful. We'd sing karaoke or play Rock Band late into the night, laughing it up. On my family's side, we open gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve. I didn't experience opening gifts on Christmas morning until I started dating my husband. As kids, the wait for midnight took FOR-E-VER! As we got older, it got easier. Once the clock struck 12 we hugged and kissed each other then we passed out gifts. Sometimes, even after the hub-bub was over, at 1am, we'd eat. Everyone would get a second wind and we would just stay up, riding a Christmas high. The next day, Mechanic Hubby and I would show up at his Mom's house at 8am and start making breakfast with the whole family. It was potluck style and last year my sister in law brought some awesome sourdough...yum. Anyway, we would eat some breakfast, then we passed out gifts (we did secret santa and bought stocking stuffers for everyone). Then we would lounge around the house like lions putting toys together, play another round of Rock Band and eat....then eat some more!
I'm not saying that this Christmas won't be just as special..I mean my toddler will be overwhelmed and it'll be nice to see her rip paper (one of her favorite things to do) and say "Wow!" But I will miss seeing the array of smiling faces, seeing all of that love in the air and receiving all of those hugs. I read that what people really want for Christmas is your presence, not your presents...and it's true.
Merry Christmas blogosphere.