Wake up around 7am, tired, but there’s something about Christmas morning. It’s immediate excitement and anticipation and I can’t fall back asleep. “Merry Christmas Chocolate Butterfly Sandwich.” Mike is weird and he says things like this all the time. It’s really, really, really weird if you’ve never heard it before, but it’s to the point where I say it to him, too. We lay in bed for the next few hours talking and drifting in and out of semi-sleep. Finally head downstairs where Sonny is laying in bed. Merry Merry! Troy finishes skyping with his Mom and heads down. Mike runs to 7-Eleven for me to get some cheese and milk.
First things first – my big gift from Mom. I know it’s a keurig and I can’t wait to use it. I open up my biggest gift and am so excited to have a nice coffee maker. Mike convinces me to not use it yet. “Just put on a pot of coffee and you can put it together later.” True. And I need to make bloody marys anyway. I made the batch last night at work. As a bartender, I think my best drink is the bloody mary. I take pride in it, adding and tasting until it’s just right. Obviously I like it on the spicy side, as any bloody mary should be. Customers shouldn’t have to ask for it spicy; it’s a spicy drink. The batch is the perfect amount for us to each have a nice size drink. And I’m heavy-handed, so there’s a decent amount of absolut in there. Never mix the vodka in until you’re actually making the drink. We all cheers and say Merry Christmas. I continue to say Merry Merry. This is something my family has started to say a lot in recent years, all because of Aunt Jackie. Aunt Jackie is my great aunt – Dad’s aunt. She comes almost every year for Christmas and says everything in three’s: “Merry Merry Merry! Good good good. Yes yes yes.”
Time for presents. I’m so excited. We did a secret polyanna between the four of us. Troy has Sonny and gets him Maker’s Mark. Then it’s Sonny’s turn and he has…Troy. I had a feeling this happened. Which means Mike and I have each other. So stupid. We’re buying for each other anyway. Oh well. Sonny gets Troy a very thoughtful gift of a book, a small journal type thing to take notes, and a silly bookmark. I’m so happy he got him such a nice gift, I don’t know why. I give Mike his present – a shirt and a belt. And then, since I had Mike as my polyanna, I felt like I should get Troy and Sonny something, too. It’s so fun to give gifts! Especially when they don’t expect it! For Sonny, a small glass for whiskey and a cheap bottle of whiskey to go with it. For Troy, a coffee mug and a bunch of pods since I knew I was getting Katie Keurig. On to the massive pile of presents under the tree. Troy has a gift from his Mom and Sonny has a gift from his “friend who is a girl”, Jen. There are also presents for Troy and Sonny from my Mom. Tastykakes for Sonny and a big beer glass with ping pong balls in it for Troy that says, ‘Beer Pong Champion Troy, Sink and Drink’. There are a lot of amazing presents from my Mom. It really feels like Christmas morning. I know she would like to see my reaction to everything but it’s great, just the same. I’m really excited about a Christmas light necklace that lights up and immediately put it on. Mike and I exchange our gifts. Spent less than 100 on him this year (and that’s including the pollyanna). I open his card and, as always, love it. His words always make me feel better. For pollyanna he got me two books that are being made into movies – which I love. For just me he got this awesome underwear that I like from Victoria’s Secret and a ‘Perfect Tea Maker’. He and Troy tell me about their trip to the mall and walking into this tea store and how cool it was (hilarious to picture the two of them in there shopping for me). Totally an unexpected gift but I love it. Mike doesn’t think I do: he’s good at reading my reactions. I think I was just surprised by it, but I’m stoked to try it.
After the presents are done, I immediately call Mom and tell her it’s time to skype. They are all dressed for the day by now. I tell her my favorite gift is my necklace. She makes some kind of exasperated noise. Ok, TODAY it’s my favorite gift. I’m feeling this bloody mary as we skype. Sarah and I battle back and forth about our presents. “Well I got pepper spray.” Well so did I. “Well I got this cute little penguin that dances and sings.” She shows me. He’s really adorable, so now I have to show them my present for Phyllis and Ron – a dancing Snoopy. Boom, beat that, Sarah. We hang up.
Mike keeps asking me to make breakfast. OK, OK. I cook up some scrambled eggs with cheese and grilled onions while Troy toasts up a plate of bread and butter. After we eat, I’m so tired. That bloody mary has taken a lot out of me. Head upstairs and lay down – for an hour and a half. Crazy unexpected nap with weird, realistic dreams. Wake up, shower, have some coffee and I’m ready to go. We are on our way to Phyllis and Ron’s house.
Should be an hour and a half ride to San Diego, but with some traffic along the way, it takes two hours. We arrive at 4:45pm. The front door is decorated with Christmas decorations and I can see the tree through the window. Phyllis opens the door and gives me a big hug, then gives Mike a big hug, then Troy even though she’s never met him before. She’s so welcoming. Everything in her house is Christma-fied, not that I expected any differently. I use the restroom real quick and there’s a night light of the leg lamp from A Christmas Story. Christmas is everywhere and I love it.
There are 11 of us total for dinner tonight – a bunch of Phyllis and Ron’s friends from the area. They’re all so nice, I don’t feel uncomfortable at all. Phyllis’ friend, Sharon, is my favorite. Find out she’s from Jersey. Well there ya go. We are definitely the young bucks in the crowd, but we all seem to enjoy each other’s company. Mike and I brought some brandy and creme de menthe to make Stingers later. Every year since Aunt Jody died we do a toast to Aunt Jody on Christmas. I explain this to Phyllis (and some of the others), and with my explanation comes a story from her. I love these stories because I’ve never heard them before, or I have but I’m hearing them from a different perspective. Stingers was Aunt Jody’s thing. Apparently, nobody liked them. Personally, I think they’re gross. It’s the one and only time during the year I’ll drink it. Christmas at the Stetsons, Aunt Jody basically made everyone do them – but she didn’t actually make them. “Once Jody sat down she didn’t get back up.” Seems like everyone drank the Stingers just because of Aunt Jody. Well everyone, that’s what’s happening tonight.
I feel like Phyllis has a whole house to entertain but she keeps sitting with me and talking with me. She’s wonderful. Mike and Troy love Ron and the other gentlemen are equally entertaining. We eat some delicious appetizers and I try to save up for dinner, which is amazing: prime rib (don’t even like steak but it’s really good) with a horseradish sauce, a sort of broccoli and cauliflower bake that is amazing, a corn pudding unlike I’ve ever had before, risotto, green beans, and garlic bread.
After dinner, we sit outside by the pool for a bit under the heat lamps, until Phyllis calls me in to make the Stingers. Oh, gladly. They give me the mixer, the strainer, shot glasses, and even a serving tray! Phyllis is so… nostalgic? Is that the word? When was the last time you did a Stinger? “With Jody!” Well then, that makes sense. It must bring back some memories. I wish it did for me…I was too young at the time to get crazy with Aunt Jody. But here I am, spending Christmas with one of her best friends.
We move to the living room to open presents. I wish I didn’t make Phyllis open Snoopy as soon as I arrived…but I was too excited. Her and Ron got me and Mike a little Santa figurine type ceramic thing that lights up with a tea light behind it. I love Christmas things! We finally end the night around the table with desserts everywhere. I try some of the pound cake and key lime pie to go with my grand marnier. Uncle Chuck and Uncle Bob drink the stuff – I brought it with me because it just reminds me of the holidays. Mostly everyone leaves. I’m done. Try to stay up as long as I can, but finally say goodnight to everyone and head to bed. Ron, Phyllis, Mike, and Troy are still up. I manage to take off my jewelry but pass out with the lights on and barely under the covers.
*Hot Hot Heat