For as far back as I can remember, which is a very, very long time, I cannot think of a Christmas I didn’t spend with my family in Florida. By family I mean the ENTIRE family. There is the immediate family- mom, dad, sister, brother. The extended family- grandmother, grandfather (moms side). The slightly more extended family- aunt, uncle, older cousin, younger cousin (also moms side). The even more extended family- great aunt (also moms side… sensing a pattern?). And with those Christmas times come all the memories. There was the good, always going to a movie on Christmas day, all of the pranks, all of the gag gifts; the bad, quite a few things have been broken over the years; the ugly, lets just say drama from one individual can lead to a whole mess of ugly; and last, but not least, the uuuuugly, consisting of what I like to call “The Family Christmas Portrait From Hell” where a certain person with a flair for the dramatics had a bit of a problem with the outfits, the hair, and well, everything.
And as fun and as miserable those Christmases have been, it is something I look forward to all year long. Seriously Internet, I am not lying when I say that Christmas is my favorite time of the year. And many people tell me I just like getting or giving gifts, but its more than that. It’s the Christmas smell. It’s the Christmas decorations. It’s the Christmas heat (we are in Florida, don’t forget). It’s the running around the house dressing up my brother as a girl. It’s shouting over all the noise to talk to one person. It’s playing pranks, it’s being with family, it’s bringing everyone together. I love it all. And last year was the last “real” Christmas I was ever going to have. But this year topped it all.
Okay, lets start from December 2007. As mentioned before, the entire family is at the house in Florida spreading the usual Christmas cheer. But things are different. My oldest cousin, Audrey, is engaged, and announced that next year she and her new husband will be spending their first Christmas in Jacksonville where they will be living. Okay, fine I can handle that, no big deal. Right? Then my mother invites everyone to her house for Christmas the following year (meaning yesterday). Now, for those of you who do not know this about me… I hate change. I hate it, hate it, hate it. With a passion. Almost as much as I hate Martha Stewart, but that’s an entirely different story. My mother seemed very happy with this idea, so I tried my hardest not to let her know I was a tiny, teeny, bit sad, but I would eventually get over it.
Alright, fast forward 364 days. December 24, 2008. The house is decorated. The air is quite chilly (see, we are in Delaware now. Where they have real seasons). My immediate family is awaiting the arrival of my grandparents (fathers side) and my cousin, uncle, and aunt (mothers side). And that is it. No one else is coming for Christmas. Not the extended family, or the even more extended family. And for some odd reason I am okay with that. The house looked amazing, even if it was decorated with Martha Stewart merchandise. My mom was happy. I was happy. The grandparents arrived and soon the cousin, aunt, and uncle arrived. And it felt like Christmas again, though, a slightly quieter one at that.
Now let me explain the sleeping situations. The grandparents on my father’s side ALWAYS stay in hotels. As far back as those memories of Christmases in Florida go, so goes my memories of them staying in hotels. Which is perfectly fine. Next come the aunt and uncle. In Florida my mother and father would sometimes stay at my grandparents other house, which they (grandparents) would rent out to girls going to my college. They stayed in my sister’s room over there, while my sister would bunk with my cousin over at my grandparent’s house. Confused yet? Let me try and make it as simple as possible. Inside the grandparents second house we have my parents. Inside the grandparent’s house we have my aunt and uncle in guest room. My older cousin Audrey and sister in my grandmother’s study on the comfortable pull out couch. My younger cousin Courtney and me in my grandfather’s study on the not so comfortable pull out couch. And in the family room my brother slept on the couch. That is how it always was, whether it be Christmas or just when we were all down for the summer. Now I have spent many, many years sharing that pull out couch with my cousin, staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning talking about the most random of topics, hers usually being her latest boyfriend and mine usually being awesome movies I have seen. And the same can be said for when my family goes up to Ohio for a summer vacation and I sleep in Courtney’s room. But nothing could prepare me for this trip.
Like I said, my grandparents are in a hotel. My aunt and uncle are in my brother’s room, kicking him out to sleep on his game room couch. My sister is in her room, and my cousin and I are in my room. This is perfectly normal, me sharing a bed with my cousin. So I didn’t think anything of it. Except that my bed seems to feel three times smaller than hers or that unholy pull out couch. Its not, but my gosh, it sure feels like it. Add the freezing temperature outside and the fact that for the past two nights my cousin has turned into some kind of cover- stealer, something that has never in my 20 years of occasionally sharing a bed with her happened before. Sure, for a couple years she kicked me. Then there was the talking in her sleep, which was actually more amusing than annoying. But never has she stolen my covers. If we were in Florida or even Ohio, I wouldn’t mind so much, as I am usually roasting. But for some reason this darn cold weather has turned me into ice, and darn it all! I NEED MY COVERS.
But I digress. So everyone is here by Christmas Eve, and we eat tacos because that is the tradition with my family (immediate that is) and everyone enjoyed them. Then we watched some TV and went to bed and woke up the next morning for presents!!
Okay, so back up needed for my best Christmas story ever. Before I went to England I fell in love with these two brothers on youtube who did this daily blog. (I don’t feel like explaining it all, so check them out here.) Basically they became this huge youtube sensation, etc. Well long story short, one of the brothers, John Green, is an author. And he has written three books- Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and finally Paper Towns (which I talk about here). He also took part in two collaboration books. And while I was in England he and his brother went all over America promoting his book and holding little gatherings and book signings and such. Well one of these happened to be a little ways from my house. And by a little, I mean an hour or so. I begged my mother go to since I would not be able to, and she said she would see. But she called me and said she couldn’t make it. So I called her the night of the signing and she seemed really sad, and I told her I was attempting to watch the live video feed on the website, but the internet was being horrible and it just wasn’t working and she really felt bad, blah, blah, blah. I told her not to feel back because she did send me to England so I couldn’t really complain, but Internet I can’t lie to you. I was sad. I was very sad. But I got over it. His newest book, which actually came out while I was in England, wasn’t published in the UK so I wasn’t able to buy it.
So about two days before all of the family came I went to the mall with my mother so she could get a few last minute gifts, and I pulled her into the bookstore and while searching, found a copy of Paper Towns. The last copy in the store, I might add. So I bought it and she was happy and I was ecstatic and it was even better because I got sad Margo, which is the cover I wanted to begin with. Then we went to the antique store where she said she had to pick up my Christmas present, which was going to be the best gift ever. She kept building up this gift, saying how much I was going to love it. Needless to say, I was rather excited.
Christmas day rolls around and I notice a stack of boxes with ribbon holding them in place. Five or six boxes of various sizes. And in it was this gift my mother swore I was going to either love or think was stupid. And she made me wait until the very end to open it up. And by “very end” I mean until the entire family was done opening up all of their gifts. And then I opened the first box.
And in it was a t-shirt form the gathering. And a picture album. I opened the album up and there was John Green, holding a microphone, staring back at me. I screamed, “NO YOU DID NOT.”
I opened the second box. Two more shirts from the gathering.
I opened the third box. Two more shirts with Hank’s (his brother) cd of funny songs that he wrote while they were doing their youtube project. Also mini-dvds of the event. She recorded the entire thing.
I opened the fourth box. Four of his books. Again, I screamed at my mother, “NO YOU DID NOT.” She told me to open them. They were all signed and personalized to me.
I opened the fifth box. “Happy Margo” sat on top of “Sad Margo”. Again, both personalized and signed. I picked them up and noticed a paperback version of Paper Towns which was weird, because the paperback versions are not out yet. And then I realized what exactly it was. I turned it over and there was “Happy Margo”. I turned it over and there was “Sad Margo”. My mom had found a copy of the unedited version of Paper Towns that only a select few had gotten.
Internet, I don’t think any words I write will capture the pure awesomeness that is my mother. That gift… was the Best. Gift. Ever. Best. Christmas. EVER.