We're ready for Christmas. The tree is decorated. Family members have arrived, the younger ones bringing sleeping bags since we don't have enough beds for all. The refrigerator is so filled that I've resorted to stacking food on a table in our conveniently cold garage. We'll be using all four burners on the stove, plus several crockpots on the counter. I've carried in enough firewood to keep the fire going. Twenty-six family members will gather at my house for Christmas Eve, and most of us will be here again for Christmas dinner.
Traditionally, we each buy only one gift. It was With-a-Why's turn to be Secret Santa this year. He declared himself the King of the North, and he matched up family members, sending us each an email telling us who to buy for. Great secrecy surrounds the Secret Santa gift exchange, and I haven't guessed yet who has me. Most of us wrap our gifts quite simply, sometimes even just stapling together the store bag, but it's a tradition for Boy-in-Black to wrap his gift in the most ridiculous way possible, using every empty box piled in the garage and every bit of leftover wrapping paper. His project this year was an eight-foot robot that is taller than the Christmas tree. His name is GMO, and he's standing in the corner, ready to greet family members as they arrive.