1. The Eve of Christmas Eve
    The family gathers for dinner at my mom's house, where we decorate the Christmas tree and exchange family gifts.
  2. I typically arrive first.
    I'm always very hungry, and it's always 20 minutes to food. My brother and his family are always 20 minutes late. Pretty sure this is no coincidence. I will never learn, instead I'll keep living with the hope of eating dinner upon arrival.
  3. We eat Tex Mex off paper plates.
    Tonight was taco soup. If we use real dishes, my mom insists on washing everything by hand before we can move on to the next portion of the evening. She cooked an entire alternate entree in case my nephews won't eat taco soup, despite the fact my SIL insisted they'd eat taco soup and like it via an earlier group text. They ate the taco soup.
  4. We decorate the tree.
    The ornaments are a disheveled collection from the last 30+ years, and include CREEPY CHRISTMAS . My SIL has started giving me creepy ornaments, and this year Shifty the Elf gained a sibling my nephew named Stalkery. The others were just heads, like Dumbo here with Surly Baby Head.
  5. Mad Santa.
    Strong side-eye there, fella. He's the size of my fist.
  6. Family presents.
    My nephews fight over who will play Santa and deliver gifts around the room. My SIL will warn them multiple times to not just tear into everything like animals. They will tear into everything like animals.
  7. The Dad Bag.
    My Dad gives out paper grocery bags. Each contains a bottle of wine, a box of crackers, not-fancy cheese that should probably be refrigerated, a page-per-day calendar, and an envelope containing $60. I can never remember if my brother and SIL share a bag or each get their own. I know each gets their own calendar.
  8. Christmas Eve.
    I have dinner with my parents. My brother and his family spend the day driving around the city to 6+ events hosted by my SIL's family. The idea of all that exhausts me. I suspect my brother hides in the bathroom a lot.
  9. Christmas Day.
    I attend services at my childhood church and sit near the choir where my Dad sings. The current priest loves incense, so I spend the hour stifling a cough and trying to not scratch my own eyes out. I also try to avoid sitting in view of the kid who has to hold the incense the whole time, so I don't constantly monitor whether the kid is about to keel over.
  10. Lunch.
    Since THE GREAT CHRISTMAS HAM COUP (a LR I intend to fulfill soon), we eat roast. This meal is entirely unremarkable, except we eat off plates and my mom insists on hand washing all of them herself. In our youth, my brother and I took this opportunity to go see a movie.
  11. Stockings.
    I stuff the stockings, other than a few traditional BLASTNAME items my mom includes: an apple and orange, and a small check. We all leave our fruit in the kitchen.
  12. I stuff my own stocking, too.
    With items I've bought myself while shopping for other people. I try not to make it too obvious I'm getting the best stuff. 😊
  13. Traditional stocking items:
    Something bacon-y and gross for brother, a small weird kitchen gadget for SIL, gross stuff young boys think is funny for nephews, dark chocolate orange for dad, box of raisinets for mom.
  14. Stockings are basically my family version of Secret Santa, and I'm usually most excited about them.
    I randomly ordered tiny hands for everyone, and the idea of all the tiny hands crack me up every time I remember.