The Gudgel Family Advent Calendar, Day 17 — Christmas in Rome

The Gudgel household was something of a slow moving unit, the morning after our Christmas party, operating on too little sleep and stumbling about a cluttered house. Still, we managed to share breakfast with our remaining family and friends and even got to church for the first time in, well, God only knows.

For the rest of the day, I graded papers and attempted to install a storm door that was four inches too small for the frame, before we struck out for Grandpa Sam’s house for Christmas with Sonja’s father, his wife, Sonja’s brother and his family.

Sam is the name of Sonja’s father, and the eponym of our son’s middle name. He and his wife Barb are great people, and we don’t see enough of them. We spent the late afternoon noshing and watching the Steeler’s best the Patriots. Then it was time to open presents.

I remember Titus’s first Christmas and, more recently, Zooey last year. The mountains of brightly colored packages were clearly overwhelming to them. This year, however, both of our kids and their cousin Clayton all seem to have discovered the joy of shredding wrapping paper. Zooey’s favorite word, “mine”, also came in pretty handy.

Within an hour our children had seemingly doubled the number of toys they owned, and for the rest of the night Titus contented himself reading his new Paw Patrol book while Zooey fantasized about her new kitchen aid mixer and I watched the Huskers struggle the first half against OSU.

At one point in the evening, Sam had told me that he had a bottle of wine, that they don’t drink wine, and that I should take it home with me. Of course, that didn’t mean there wasn’t anything to drink. When in Rome, drink what the Romans do.

I used to think I enjoyed the holidays, but I don’t ever recall enjoying them nearly so much as I have this year. Since taking the kids trick or treating, this early winter has been full to the brim with family and memories, from seeing many I don’t see nearly often enough at the ranch on Thanksgiving to Zooey moving deftly betwixt our friends’ legs at the party two nights ago in her little Christmas outfit to Titus receiving a family heirloom from his grandfather last night, and from snowmen and sledding to reading the Grinch every night as if it were biblical, I’ve never appreciated the holidays more. Wherever you are, I hope this last week and change leading up to Christmas is magical.

Cheers to the magic of the holiday season,

Mark

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