I go back and forth on how much I like this particular tradition. I mean, on the one hand I'm all for spending time with the family, but it's so expensive. It sounds like it shouldn't be - the "rule" is that gifts are under $10 - but buying $10 gifts for 10 or 12 people adds up, and it isn't that easy to find good gifts in that price range so one of two things happens:
- People go overbudget and spend more than they should, which is problematic as one still must buy regular Christmas presents, too
- People stick strictly to the budget and end getting crap gifts for everybody. Thankfully, the invention of giftcards means that this happens less and less, but I have a lifetime's worth of nail files stashed away somewhere.
This year there was a bit of drama setting up the sock party, because I wanted to have it earlier in the day so I could finish a paper for school and go to bed early. Seanie wanted to have it on Saturday because he works on Sundays. Rhi and Sean's mom and the two of us went back and forth for a few days over texts and phone calls before settling on this date, which didn't seem to make anyone all that happy. Oh well. All that was put behind us once the family gathered together.
After a delightful breakfast of fritters and bacon (so heart healthy!) we settled into the sock routine. Here's how it goes: one person gets a red sock that everyone else has slipped a gift into. (The socks are rather small, so most of the time the gifts don't all fit inside, but never mind that.) They ooooh and aaaah over every object, and then we move on to the next person. If we were to go straight through, this process would probably take about ten minutes per person, and we'd be done in two hours. Not that the goal is to finish quickly, of course - it's about family and spending time together and managing to sound terribly impressed that someone bought you dollar store mittens - but Tintoretto and his painting of St. Jerome was weighing heavily on my mind.
Seanie's twin nephews constantly diverted attention, as I'm sure they and other offspring will for the rest of my life. As someone who doesn't fully appreciate the joy and wonder of small children prone to producing bodily fluids, baby behavior isn't all that riveting to me. We'd have to put on the brakes every few minutes to take care of something twin-related. It's not a problem, per se, but I was on a rather tight time schedule and the slow progress of sock unwrapping kept me nervous. It took close to five hours to get everyone's sock opened.
I got some cool stuff in mine: specifically, one awesome thing. On my Christmas wishlist, I had requested an annual passport to Disneyland, and everyone teamed up together to put one in my stocking so that I could use it for a Disney trip coming up later this month. That was really sweet of everyone. Seanie said I didn't squeal nearly as much as he thought I would, but it was a bit of a foregone conclusion that they'd get it for me so I wasn't exactly surprised. It was an awesome gift, though!
For everyone else, I got Christmas crackers. Yeah, I know - not so exciting, but I am feeling really poor this year, and Seanie and I still have to get regular Christmas presents for everyone! So crackers it is. The prizes in this particular batch weren't too exciting - puzzles, little notepads, a shoehorn, and so on. I'll have to find a better source for crackers next year, since Seanie says it is officially a sock party tradition now.
In other news, as of about forty minutes ago the paper about St. Jerome is finished. Huzzah!