FULL AUDIO version of this article right below from Groffy herself! Reading is boring! Let your ears do some work!

Tis the season to be jolly; tis the season to sing; tis the season to cheers; tis the season to see family and friends; tis the season for new beginnings; welcome to the holiday edition of Groff’s Garage.

For some the holiday season is a nasty time of year.  From Halloween until January 1 it can be taxing on the soul.  For me, it’s both really.  Halloween is my favorite holiday and my grandfather’s birthday.  He passed away when I was 5.  Thanksgiving is my mother’s favorite holiday.  I always loved Christmas as a kid, visiting with family; obviously the presents were a perk, but the FOOD, OMG, the food.  My mother’s mother used to make homemade made-to-order waffles, hash-browns, ham and my ultimate favorite strawberry or raspberry whipped topping…which I used to devour with a spoon, right out of the bowl.  Christmas has been difficult the past few years because both of my grandmothers passed away during this time.  I carry on the traditions that both of them started and try to keep their spirit alive when making food, decorating or even down to the smallest detail of telling my boys about my favorite memories.  I guess that’s why I tend to do funny (and sometimes) inappropriate Christmas cards.  I use funny pictures of my boys and quotes from Christmas Vacation or any Christmas movie, but Christmas Vacation just has so many great lines, plus it’s one of my favorites.

CHRISTMAS EVE – we had our Christmas with Aunty Fish.  We did a little breakfast and spent the morning catching up because the holidays are such a busy time for both of us, it was nice to actually sit down with my pal.  She gave the boys an ice cream sundae kit, it was awesome…just add Ice Cream – sprinkles, cones, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, bowls – it was great…now just have to get ice cream.  We gave her a mermaid blanket, picture frame with a bunch of silly pictures and the boys did their own shopping at Santa’s Workshop at school.

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After Fish left, we called my mother to wish her a happy birthday and got ready for the day.  Had some last minute gifts to take care of and wrap.  The boys were great, they helped me tidy up the house because we were having Christmas brunch and needed to do some major cleaning and de-cluttering.

I knew the boys were super excited for Santa to come, so as tradition we put out milk and cookies for Santa and a beer for Rudolph.  Riley and Cooper were bouncing off the walls and rightfully so, I mean why wouldn’t they…SANTA WAS COMING!  They eventually fell asleep and I was able to finally finish cleaning up the house, doing the dishes, ran the dishwasher, finished all the presents and placed them in their piles.  Special shout-out to Jacob for helping me with last minute gift set ups – the outdoor giant bowling ball and pins was a lot of hot air…you’re my hero!

CHRISTMAS CHAOS – it’s 5:27am and Riley is the first one up…I heard him creep down the hallway towards the presents and whisper with excitement, “SANTA CAME”!  He ran back down the hallway and exploded into my room, “MUUUUUMMMMMM…SANTA CAME, SANTA CAME…GET UP, GET UP, GET UP”!!!  I pleaded with him to go back to bed, but I knew that was going to be a losing battle.  I told him to put on some clothes; I didn’t need Christmas underwear memories.  He woke Cooper up next, well, at least he tried, Cooper rolled back over and told Riley to go back to sleep.  Then Riley told Cooper Santa came and Cooper jumped up and smacked his head on the bottom bunk.  Let the chaos begin!  

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A tradition that I try to carry out that my mother always did was take a before and after picture.  Obviously I knew I was going to take during pictures…my mum would always take a picture of my brothers and I at the top of the stairs before we were able to come down and see the presents…let’s put it this way, not all the pictures were all that great, not even for a #TBT picture.  It was a great morning…we were all done opening presents by 6:30am…my living room was an absolute disaster, but what does it matter when we were making memories.  It was a magical and musical year in my house this year – Riley asked for bagpipes, he’s a goalie, and what do you expect?  He received a chanter, a how to play book and a dvd – he has been nonstop playing since he opened it.  Cooper got a tambourine, what was Santa thinking?  Thanks for the headaches Santa, and the Tylenol you left in my stocking.

We cleaned up the living room and prepped for our family to come over for morning brunch.  Thanks for my grandma Nancy for starting such an amazing tradition.  She was an amazing woman, talented in every way – artist, homemaker, cook, wife, mother and one kickass grandmother.  When my mother and aunts began dating, my grandmother did not want to interfere with her daughter’s social lives and spending time with their boyfriends, so she started the tradition of Christmas brunch…little did she know it would stick.  She put on a spread, so much so it was hard to eat the rest of the day…perhaps she had an alternative motive behind her little tradition.  Everyone came over to my grandparents house to open presents, she would make homemade waffles to order – plain, cheese, cinnamon raisin, apricot (my grandfather’s favorite), chocolate chip (oh, the chocolate chip) – she had multiple irons going, plus all the burners for eggs, plus the oven for potatoes, ham, keeping the bacon and sausage warm – and that was the best, everything was STILL warm – my grandmother was an amazing woman.  So I am happy that my mother and I continue to carry on the tradition she started so many years ago.  

The door opens and my mother came flying in hot with gift bags, pots and pans, egg nog, orange juice and of course the bubbly.  I finished getting the boys dressed and I finished as well, put a movie in for the kids and went in the kitchen to help my mother.  Popped the champagne, poured my mum a mimosa and we toasted to her birthday, carrying on traditions and surviving Christmas.  

A sickness swept through my step brother’s house, so his family was not coming over, my other stepbrother got it from my niece, he was down for the count, there was a water main break at my stepdad’s house, he was out, Aunt Cindy had a migraine , she’s out, Aunt Dawn and Greg were in Maryland…so what was going to be a huge holiday brunch, turned into a quiet visit with family.  My cousins came with their spouses and kids, there were presents everywhere, food, laughter and family, couldn’t ask for anything more.   

It was the first year for the divorce shuffle with the boys.  After cleaning up the house from brunch, I ended up taking a nap only to wake up to a floor full of Legos – ouch – I still think they should make dodging Legos an Olympic sport.  The boys were ready to go to their dad’s for their Christmas, we loaded up the truck and I took them over to their grandmother’s house.  It was nice to see everyone, I gave the boys hugs and kisses and headed back on home.  The house was quite, it was weird how quiet it was, but calming.  

I picked the boys up on Wednesday and we headed over to Aunt Ree’s house for our Wright family Christmas.  The boys ran around and played as I helped Ree with last minute kitchen prep.  We ate a pant load of food – salad, lasagna, ham (oh the ham was so yummy) – and then came the presents.  More Legos for the boys!  For me it’s not about gift receiving but giving and watching those open the gifts.  It’s so much fun to watch as their eyes light up, but when Ree opened her gift from us and brought tears to her eyes, that moment was worth the wait.

For me the holidays are about friends and family, making memories, creating and carrying on traditions.  Family can drive you crazy and push your buttons, and they know exactly what buttons to push…but at the end of the day, I could not and would not trade any of it in for something else.  My family and friends are weird, they have their quirks, but that is what makes them them – to all of my friends and family, I love you and want to say thank you for blessing my life.  Happy holidays, with love from my heart and soul.  ~ Groffy