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Posts Tagged ‘in-laws’

Kids love routine. You may think it’s exciting that you never know what you’re having for dinner until you pull it out of the freezer or the drive-through worker’s hands, or that you can make it to work/school on time only if you miss that first critical red light, but trust me, children want a degree of predictability.

Growing up, my brother and I had a few entirely predictable Christmas gifts, and I, for one, loved the routine. They were all candy items, and they didn’t stop until we had probably grown too old for some of them:

  • DeMet’s Turtles: Our maternal grandparents would give us each a box of these rich goodies every year. They were pretty basic: caramel-covered pecans coated with chocolate, in a vaguely turtle-like shape. They were also huge: If you ate more than two at a time (and just try to stop us), you could potentially suffer from that mythical stomachache that adults always warned us about. Meh. We were hardy children. No candy-induced stomachaches for us.
  • Chocolate mint patties: My paternal grandmother used to wrap up a box of these for each of us every year. You’d think that, given the popularity and year-round availability of the York Peppermint Pattie, these wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but they were thinner than Peppermint Patties and just more Christmas-y. (My in-laws still give my husband a box of them every year.)
  • Chocolate-covered cherries: My mom always made sure I got a box of these – not sure if my brother ever liked them. I loved biting through the thin chocolate shell to release the liquid surrounding the cherry. Looking back, I’m not sure how I ever ate so many — they may be the richest, sweetest Christmastime treat I remember.
  • Lifesavers Storybook: It was just a little cardboard box, hinged to resemble a book, but it held six or eight rolls of Lifesavers in different flavors and I was ALL about different flavors. Imagine. My favorite flavor was pineapple. I recently stumbled across a Lifesavers Storybook filled with gummy Lifesavers. We would have scarfed those down in minutes — maybe our paternal grandmother knew it would take us awhile to get through a box of hard candy.

We had other holiday traditions. We always went to my paternal grandmother’s house on Christmas Eve to unwrap presents, and left when the weatherman announced that Santa was getting close. My maternal grandmother always put walnuts in our stockings hung by the chimney with care, and we always dumped them back into the walnut bowl on Christmas morning. At some point, my grandmother started making fruitcake cookies every year, despite the face that nobody seemed to like them.

It’s funny that the goofy little things are the ones you remember the best. I can’t recall the “big gifts” that I got from year to year, but I can assure you that I would trade them all for one more Christmas with all my grandparents, swapping turtles and chocolate-covered cherries around the tree.

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Let’s face it: Thanksgiving is entirely too close to Christmas. It amazes me that people put so much effort into Thanksgiving, flying across the country or driving across the state, only to do it again four weeks later.

Having moved a good eight hours away from my mom and the in-laws, I’ve discovered that I just can’t do it anymore. There will be visits, but they will not necessarily occur on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas Day — I’ve moved past obsessing over dates. I’ll be just as thankful to have dinner with my family on any random day as I would on the official holidays. Happier, really, seeing as how I will likely have skipped the pre-holiday epic traffic jam that is Birmingham, Alabama.

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Me on my wedding day

Me on my wedding day

My mom on her wedding day.

Mom on her wedding day

First of all, how much of a babe was my mom on her wedding day?

I was flipping through old photos on Mother’s Day, and it occurred to me that most brides get the same wedding-day advice from their mothers – stand up straight, blot your lipstick, don’t drink more than two glasses of champagne every hour, etc.

My mom didn’t load me down with nitpicking advice. On the way to the ceremony site, she sat next to me and explained that she really liked my fiance and thought he was the perfect man for me. She added, though, that if I had any idea that I didn’t want to get married, for any reason at all, then we would just keep driving.

I was never clear whether this “we” included my future father-in-law, who was chauffeuring us both around. My mom is the queen of Plan B, so for all I know she had a black Trans Am hidden behind a billboard, ready to make our getaway a la “Smokey and the Bandit.”

Trust me, if the woman ever got behind the wheel of a V8 muscle car, no one would catch up to her until she hit the Texas state line.

I didn’t take her up on her offer, and neither one of us has regretted it. If I hadn’t married my fiance, I think she may have tried to adopt him.

I don’t know that I ever told her how much I appreciated the thought, though, knowing full well that she was willing to risk a museum full of angry out-of-town relatives if I needed an out. And if I had to let anybody drive 130 miles an hour while I was stripping off wedding gown parts and letting them fly into the wind, it would be my mom.

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