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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Coming Back on Christmas Eve

Knowing that I am going to my first Christmas at my boyfriend's parents' house with 30 family members there, I know I am in for another social gathering. I reflected on the previous one from mid December with friends and some nerves came over me occasionally before going, but I know with this group I can be comfortable. Everyone there will already know about my surgery experience and some post surgery happenings during recovery. They are family, they keep in touch, they are aware. I also know they are a group that likes to enjoy themselves and have fun, not focusing on the negative things.

I was told a couple things from my boyfriend about how Christmas goes with his family. I heard that Santa comes and hands out joking, and at times inappropriate gifts, to everyone there. He warned me to not get offended by anything Santa gives me. Is it pathetic that I was super excited for this? I feel there is no chance at this point of me being offended with a sense of humor. I am constantly looking for something to make me smile or laugh. I couldn't wait. 

I was also told another tradition. Before eating dinner, the newest guest must say grace. I was the newest guest and never had I ever said grace. I got so nervous hearing this that I was about to throw up. 

I don't know how to say grace and the whole family is going to be there watching me take the lead was the idea that I had running through my head. What did I do? Google it, duh! "How to say grace at Christmas dinner?" I browsed through a few and literally started getting nauseous. I then got a message from my boyfriend's best friend telling me that he had to give grace their and his tip was to give Grandpa a kiss on the hand after because it shows respect in the Italian culture. Definitely thought he was joking with me. I then started getting comments from all the cousins telling me, "good luck on grace," or, "don't forget to kiss Grandpa's hand!" I started believing this was true with everyone explaining it to me. I needed a plan, and I created one.

At the gathering, there were quite a lot of people there. My family's usual Christmas consists of my parents and siblings- tiny. This was a crowded affair. I flashed back to the past gathering of friends and my lack of comfort, reminded myself that it is time to be me again, and joined in immediately to a game with the cousins. I was really feeling comfortable and was enjoying myself interacting with everyone. The cousins kept telling me about grace and the joke of me doing it spread to the older adults. 

Dinner came out. My boyfriend's mother tried to rescue me and make him do grace instead of me. Little did they all know, I had a joking plan to turn around on them. 

"I'll do grace tonight," I said. "As you all know, I had a piece of my brain removed so my memory on how to do grace is a bit forgotten." I got some laughs and a sarcastic, "not a good enough excuse!" making me smile. I continued, "For grace tonight I wanted to make it special for Grandpa, so I'd like to say it in Italian for him." (I had spent all day learning and practicing the words that translated to "bless this lovely family, delicious food, and wonderful Christmas" that I attempted as best as I remembered for all 30 people there.) I then kissed Grandpa's hand as everyone told me to. Whether it was the truth or a joke, I wasn't sure, but I did it to make everyone smile- including Grandpa! He gave me a hug, told me he loved me and started bawling. I couldn't stop smiling. 

I was back to myself and fit in with the crowd well. I felt more confident, happy, and free of fears, ready to be social again. 

And in case you were wondering what Santa brought me: A construction helmet (must keep my brain safe), staples and a staple remover (never know when I'll need to close my head up again) and an "Alcoholics Anonymous" book (haven't had a sip since September, so I must have quit drinking for a real reason...). Sounds like Christmas!