Trip to Indiana

snow_storm_apple_valleyIt is a Tuesday evening in Apple Valley, Minnesota.  It started snowing yesterday around sunset.  My wife and I were coming back home yesterday afternoon after picking up our two dogs from the dog sitter, when the snow started.  Around 04:30 PM it stopped snowing in our neighborhood.  Total snow accumulation is about 12 inches.  The snow removal service plowed the driveway sometime around mid morning.  Later in the afternoon a snow blower was used to clear the entrance.  Both dogs were going crazy barking and jumping while snow was being removed.  I believe this is the first snow storm of the season.  Last Wednesday my wife and I left to visit my youngest son in Indiana and there was no snow on the ground.  Temperatures were in the mid 30s.  That was not the care when we returned last Friday evening.  Yards had about half inch of snow and the temperature was in the low 20s.  What a change in less than a week.

My youngest son, his wife and their two children moved to Indiana about seven years ago.  His spouse was born there and all her family lives in town and cities around Indiana.  Last year my wife and spent for the first time the Christmas holiday visiting them.  Her family is Catholic.  My daughter in law’s parents with their four sons and daughters and their grandchildren get together every year for the holidays.lights_indiana

It seems like their holiday tradition (at least for the past two years) is pretty well established.  Early evening on December 24, given that they all live between 20 to 80 miles apart, each family attends a Catholic service convenient to each family.  After the service they all converge in the house of the grandparents.  The grandparents fix dinner.  After a couple drinks and very nice conversations, the entire family sits around to exchange presents and play games.  By 09:00 PM everyone heads back home.  One of the families has to commute for about an hour and a half to get back home with their five children.

The next day, December 25, the same group meets at the house of their uncle.  He cooks a meal once a year.  Last year the meal was centered on fried chicken.  This year it was beef.  For a person that cooks so infrequent, the food was very good.  Around 05:00 PM the twenty some family members gathered to chat and share the delicious meal.

church_indianaOne of the daughters, that live about 1½ hours away, noticed that they had forgotten to bring the bag for their seven months old son.  Of interest was the bottle for his milk.  With the exception of gas stations, all other businesses were closed in town.  No way to get formula or a new bottle in town.  The same held true for most town in the area.  Given that the entire family lives in the area, they quickly contacted a cousin who lives a few blocks away.  She showed up with an old bottle and some formula.  The night was saved; or so it seemed.  The nipple in the bottle was too long and wide.  The kid would put it in his mouth just to spit it out in a couple seconds.  The grandfather sat on a rocking chair in a bedroom, and patiently nursed the baby until he consumed some milk and fell asleep.

The rest of us finished dinner.  After some additional chat, it was time for presents.  Now this is the interesting thing.  The uncle is single.  He never married.  He took care of his aunt who passed away about seven years ago.  She would have turned 100 on December 25th.  The uncle gets several presents for all the members of the family.  This year each adult and child receive 11 presents (keep in mind we were over 20 people).  He is a very kind and caring person who has dedicated his life to help the family.holiday_meal_with family

Last year, given that we were visiting my son, my wife and I were invited to the celebration on December 25th.  We did not expect a present but there was one for my wife and one for me.  This year, we received a couple presents, but were prepared and reciprocated with a box of chocolates.

My wife comes from a large family.  They grew up surrounded by brothers, sisters, unless and cousins.  On my family side, we are very few.  A full house for the holidays implied 10 people including myself.  That said; my parents and sisters were (and still are) very reserved.  Growing up we did not chat much among family members.  It seemed that everyone spent most of their time studying and reading in their rooms.  We knew about the present and back to when my sisters and I were born.  We knew very little about our family.  Now that my parents and one of my sisters have past away, I have researched and found a lot more about the family.  What a shame.  Perhaps that is the reason I feel so good being part of this holiday tradition with my in-laws.

christmas_presentsFor my wife and me this second year visiting the in-laws has been even better than last.  They are very good and caring people.  They know how to make all feel welcomed.  Looking forward spend some time with such a nice extended family next year.

No matter what you celebrate (my wife and I do not celebrate Christmas, we celebrate Chanukah) hope you do it with family and good friends.no_matter_which_religion


The Naïve American

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