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What a Stuffy Party!

Christmas parties are supposed to be fun right?

The Christmas parties on my dad’s side of the family were somewhat fancy affairs. Due to relatives work scheduling conflicts, they always had to be held on a Sunday night. My family had to dress up. When I was little (under five years old) I liked the idea, because back then I was into pretty dresses, frilly skirts and playing dress up. I usually wore a red or green dress and also I used to wear those tights for kids with the little red heart print on them. I would get really nice hand-me-down dresses from my cousins on my mom’s side.

But it was too far away! My parents and I would get in the old ‘79 Mustang and drive all the way to Dana Point from the Valley to my aunt’s party. She lived in a big house and I could never find the bathroom! I would walk in into random rooms looking for it by accident, but my relatives let it go because I was a little kid.

When I got older, I dreaded it and all the stuffiness. By the time I was eight, I was already dreading it. The party got moved to my grandma’s house which was still pretty far. Just like before, we had to dress up. Around that time I started to be more self conscious about what I wore and more into fashion. My cousins, who were more stylish than me, were always on trend. The problem was that since they are sisters they would conspire to wear similar outfits. Compared to them, I looked like Cousin Eddie from the Christmas Vacation movie. Sometimes they would throw me for a curve and all dress casual.

When my grandma took over hosting the party she was notorious for a few things, including being a bad cook. Her food was awful! She didn’t let you eat unless she said so. She’d slap my hand when I went for food that was set out to eat. I was not pinching things from the kitchen. What little food that was edible was hard to find if any was left. It was mostly...

spicy cheese balls,

tortilla pinwheels,

and dips. One party she bragged to me about how she shaved her baby carrots by hand and how perfectly rounded they were. I don’t even like carrots!

The parties were so boring! I used to bring toys to keep myself occupied. When I could read, I would also bring magazines. There was nobody there my age play with besides my trio of similar aged female cousins who were born in 1980, 1982, and 1984. I’m two months older than the one who was also born in 1984. Most of my other cousins were teenagers or under the age of five (born after 1989 and dubbed “The Wild Bunch” by my relatives).

One of my cousins (the one who was the same age as me) was such a ham that when somebody had a video camera on her she would grab a random book and make it look like she was singing Christmas carols from it. I really wish I could see the video of that now!

The gifts were confusing. For three years in a row my aunt that hosted the party gave Cabbage Patch dolls. I remember which lines they were from. I got a

Toddler Kid,

a Growing Hair kid and a

Preschool kid.

I think it was just easier for them to get 4 of the same type of gift for my three cousins who were all around the same age. I already had two other dolls I had received from Santa;

Baseball All Star Kid in 1986 and

Splashin’ Kid in 1987 respectively. I didn’t complain. They were very nice dolls. One year they got a Nintendo. I was so jealous! Usually they would bring a big gift for the trio of sisters to open up at the Christmas party to show off with. It was always something expensive and extravagant and something that I also wanted, but did not get.

My grandma’s decorating taste was eclectic to say the least. She decorated every nook and cranny of her living room, den, and dining room area. My grandma liked to keep a broken electric train under the tree that didn’t run. When I asked why, she really couldn’t explain it other than it was traditional.

Eventually she stopped having the parties or I stopped going. I forget which.

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Hoju Koolander Posted on Dec 14, 2015 at 06:24 AM

I laughed at your comparison to Cousin Eddie, that really set the scene. All my extended family lived out of state growing up so Christmas time was celebrated with just my older brother and sister's families, I would have loved a huge party like this to complain about years later;)

pikachulover Posted on Dec 11, 2015 at 03:26 AM

I was a strange age in both sides of the family. I'm the youngest on my mom's side. My 2nd cousin wasn't born until I was about 7. My cousins on my mom's side usually didn't bother me. They'd just put on a cartoon or something and I watch it and behave.

As for the party presents. I'd just play with them and forget too except the CPK dolls.

Vaporman87 Posted on Dec 11, 2015 at 01:36 AM

Our get-togethers at our my Grandma's house were kind of like what you describe here. I didn't really know my cousins well (nor did I care much for them). So I just wanted to get the good stuff and get home. I would typically play with my haul until Christmas morning, after which those toys became all but forgotten for several weeks, if not forever.

mickyarber Posted on Dec 10, 2015 at 06:13 PM

On the flip side, I always looked forward to (and still do) the family Christmas parties. With so many cousins, we just drew names and none of the gifts were expensive. You may end up wanting what someone else got, but only because it looked cool and not because it was more expensive that who you had gotten.

Fun article.

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