It was Christmas Eve and the snow had started coming down way before dawn. Our family had been having our Christmas Eve celebration in the country at my parents' house for many years. Their house was the only one large enough for everyone to sleep overnight at was the main reason. We enjoyed having hot buttered rums and wine and didn't believe in driving after imbibing. Spending Christmas there had become a family tradition for my sister and me, along with whoever we wanted to bring along, to eat, drink and be merry with. It had started as soon as she and I moved away from home after high school.
This year would be no exception even with the heavy snowfall. Everyone would make it there in their various four wheel drive vehicles no matter how much snow fell. We always spent the night there so we could all be together on Christmas day. This would be the eighth year we had been engaging in this tradition.
My sister and her husband Randy, with their two sons who were six and three, arrived at our parents' house first in their four wheel drive Explorer. Next on the scene was a good friend of both of us two daughters, his name was Aaron and we frequently referred to him as our brother. Aaron usually went to his parents' house for Christmas. They lived two hours north of us and because of the heavy snow it was too dangerous to drive there so he drove out to join the party in the country with his second family. Aaron arrived in his old four wheel drive jeep that he owned for just this kind of occasion.
My boyfriend, Greg, and I arrived last in Greg's Volkswagen bug which navigated the snow very well. We would be sleeping on the pull out couch in the family room. Aaron would get the large couch in the living room where Annette's two boys would sleep on the floor in sleeping bags and Annette and Randy would get the spare bedroom. There used to be a third bedroom but our father had turned it into his hobby room after my sister and I moved out and had kicked the bed out of it.
By the time Greg and I arrived the hot buttered rums were flowing freely and everyone was getting buzzed on the alcohol. The two boys were outside playing in the deep snow. When they came in the house they would steal a drink out of someone's unwatched glass now and then. The snow hadn't let up all day and by the time it got dark there was over three feet of snow on the ground.
"Hey Dave, do you have a sled around here?" Randy asked his father-in-law.
"There is one up in the barn. It's hanging on the wall over the shop. Do you want me to go out there and show you where it is?"
"No I am sure I can find it. Aaron, do you go up to the barn with me to get the sled?"
"Sure. Let me go put on my sweater and snow pants. I'll be right out." Aaron left the room to go get the clothes he brought that were still out in his jeep.
They went out to the barn and returned with the sled.
"So who wants to go down the hill on the sled with me?" Randy looked around the room.
His two sons jumped up. "Let me ride it." They both yelled at the same time.
Randy and the boys went outside and everyone else watched from the living room. Randy sat the kids on the sled and shoved it down the hill. After a while the kids got tired of sledding and came back in the house to lust after the presents that were sitting unopened under the tree. Aaron took the sled down the hill after the boys and took an unplanned journey off of the road into the bushes.
Randy, Greg, Aaron and Dave proceeded to get quite toasted on hot buttered rum. The women were not too happy with the men.
"Dave, how about you and me and Greg go down the hill together on the sled?" Randy suggested.
"You have got to be kidding. It's pitch black out there." Greg wasn't too enthusiastic.
"I can hold a flashlight." Randy responded.
"Oh really. How can you hold a flashlight and hold on to the sled?" Greg asked.
"I can tape it on my head," and Randy proceeded to take duct tape and taped the flashlight on top of his head. Michele quickly grabbed her camera and took photos, she figured this ought to be good blackmail material when she got the photos developed.
Michele, Annette and their mother couldn't quit laughing as they watched the spectacle unfold. Dave laid down on the sled first and Greg lay on top of him. Then Randy, with the flashlight taped to his head, got on the very top and the three of them proceeded down the hill.
The women watched from the living room window as the three drunken fools took off on the sled. When they were went around the corner out of sight they went to the kitchen and brought out the Christmas Eve munchies feast. This was the family tradition to have a meal consisting of all appetizers on Christmas Eve and then have a traditional dinner the next day.
When the three men walked back in the house they found everyone was sitting at the table eating.
"What took so long?" Michele asked.
"When we got to the big corner Dave couldn't get the sled turned so the sled went off the road and ran us into the blackberries. We aren't going to do that again."
"Do you know how stupid you looked with that flashlight taped around your head?" Annette remarked.
"The best part is I've got a photograph. That is going to be a priceless photo!" Michele had trouble talking she was laughing so hard.
"I don't care, you girls can screw off!" Randy was drunk and couldn't really get too mad.
Everyone continued sitting at the table and ate the munchies the women had prepared. The boys were chomping at the bit to open their presents.
"It's getting really late. Can we open the presents you said we could?" Zak pleaded to his mother.
"Oh you boys sound so pitiful. Go ahead and open them!" Annette laughed.
As soon as she had given the boys permission they rushed to the tree to find the presents that had been set aside for Christmas Eve. The rest of them would be opened the next morning. Everyone watched as the boys tore open their Christmas Eve presents. This was the real reason everyone was there this evening. Snow and sledding had been a bonus.