Our family holidays are special, in every sense of the word. Often, it seems, there’s a whole lot of sitting around and waiting. Case in point, it’s Christmas afternoon and we have yet to crack open the bulging stockings. Two of my brothers are currently wrapping presents in the basement of our sister’s house, using her wrapping paper. She’s out at the in-laws and will return soon, and then our Christmas will begin.
Although it really has begun already. My sister’s family drove north on Sunday, picked me up, and by the time we converged on our parents’ farm, which is crammed with my mother’s art projects, everyone but Daniel was present. It’s a much smaller house than the Moscow set-up, however, so on Christmas Eve we awoke, sat around for awhile, and then turned around and went back south, stopping to see our childhood friend Chelsea on the way, and introduce Bess’ children to her son.
We arrived in Moscow to Christmas lights shining under the snow, the two cozy houses side by side, snug in their winter coverings. We rushed around getting things done and then my sister’s family left to spend the night out at the in-laws. Christmas breakfast for the rest of us was at my parents’ Moscow house at around noon. My brothers had begun their own tradition of wearing facial hair and old man sweaters, and they snatched up the bacon, drank some coffee, cranked the soundtrack of Gladiator and wrestled in the living room.