in all our years together, Michael and i have never celebrated Christmas in the same place. often it was because of his work schedule, but this year it worked out that he was off both Christmas Eve and Christmas day - quite convenient since this year we really had to celebrate together, being engaged and all.
Christmas Eve was supposed to involve making a brief jaunt to New Jersey to see my aunt, uncle and parents before heading back to Brooklyn. i'd never been in the city on Christmas Eve before and seriously miscalculated how much traffic there would be. it took us an hour just to get to the entrance of the Holland Tunnel (it normally takes us less than a quarter of that time). it became painfully clear as we sat in a nightmare of a traffic jam on Hudson Street that going to New Jersey just wasn't logical or sensible.
i was still in a frazzled, somewhat delicate state and found myself in tears over the change in plans. pretty ridiculous for an adult who's getting married next year, but that's what happened. it wasn't so much that i wasn't going to see my family on Christmas Eve as it was the pressure of trying to squeeze too many obligations into too small a time frame.
but i snapped out of it. (a nice, long hug from my fiance did the trick.) and Christmas Eve wound up being a blast. it was my first time spending the holiday at Michael's grandparents' and it lived up to the hype. there was an endless supply of food, bottle after bottle of wine and champagne, tons of people i love... and the money box.
i'm not sure how many years ago it started, but Michael's grandfather - i call him Grandpa Angelo - created a new Christmas tradition called the money box. it's so simple and yet spectacular - just a festively-wrapped cardboard box with a square hole cut out of the lid. and inside the box? lots and lots of cash.
the rules are: each grandkid lines up, youngest to oldest, and take turns pulling one bill out of the box. there are ones and fives and tens and twenties in there. you keep taking turns until the box is empty.
i was toward the end of the line, old fart that i am, yet my placement proved to be lucky. i did not pull a single single out of the box. every pluck i made was a five or a ten or a twenty. i made seventy-five bucks! merry Christmas indeed!
in all honesty, that was a high point, but what made the evening so special was finally being there with Michael. it took us long enough to start sharing holidays, but it was worth the wait. on Christmas day, after we opened presents together that morning in my place, we had breakfast at his mom's and then hit the road. we spent an hour with my Gram, who was sweet and adorable, and then made our way to PA for more presents, lots of food and a spirited Scrabble match.
all in all, it was a hectic two days but i loved it all.