Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, I hope you had a safe and happy one. If I happen to have seen you recently and wished you a Merry Christmas and you don’t celebrate it…don’t be offended. Just look at it as me wanting to wish another human being a happy day. If that’s all it takes to offend you, then grow a thicker skin and be thankful we didn’t talk longer because I would have made you cry and reevaluate your entire sad existence.

Normally I finish off the year with a year in review of Shorebilly’s Swill. But this year, I had such a wonderful and entertaining Christmas that I’m going to tell you about it. I, being the youngest of three in my family, and the only one who was divorced always had to be the one who did all of the traveling on Christmas for many years. It only made sense, and I didn’t mind it as long as I could see my family. So I usually spent a good bit of time in the car around Christmas.

My brother always hosts Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve was at my sister’s house, and Christmas Day was always at my parents house.. It was unspoken and we always knew where to be. Ever since my Mom passed away, Christmas Day has been the 600 pound gorilla in the room that nobody wanted to discuss.

At the time, I hadn’t remarried yet and all of the grandchildren on my side of the family were either grown, or close to it. Most of the fondest memories of my childhood were time spent with my family around Christmas and I was not yet prepared to let go of that. So about 5 years ago, I made an executive familial decision. I informed everyone in my family that I had the youngest child, and I finally had a house big enough to host Christmas in so I would no longer be traveling. After thinking about it, my father and both of my siblings were in agreement.

Well, I’ve since added 2 more little girls to the family and I haven’t spent Christmas Day on the road since I decided to claim the venue for the day. Over the past 5 years, I’ve fed anywhere from 8 to 28 people in my home on Christmas Day and I’ve loved every minute of it. I’d so much rather spend Christmas in the kitchen than in the car.

It’s now evolved to the point that we spend Christmas Eve at my in-laws house about 20 minutes away and Christmas Day at my house. I have what could best be described as a very unique rapore with my in-laws. In fact, if everyone got along with their in-laws the way I do mine, the world would be a much better place. They seem to love me for the fact that I’ve never pretended to be anything other than myself. And I love them for the fact that they let me stick around despite that. The point being, it’s a very comfortable atmosphere and no one holds back. I have the luxury of allowing my sarcastic nature to go full throttle, and they have the luxury of beating me down when necessary which brings us to the point.

If you’ve followed this column for any length of time, then you may be aware that in just under 2 weeks, I’ll have made it two full years without a cigarette. You may also know that in that time, I’ve put on a bit of weight. I used Girl Scout cookies initially to combat the nicotine cravings but once I’d kicked that nasty habit, my waistline continued to expand. This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if I could put on weight like a normal person. By that I mean evenly dispersed throughout my body. Not me – every single ounce I put on goes to my gut or face. From the hip down, I’m still built like a freakin’ flamingo, while my mid-section is a bit more like one of the M&M guys. If you have children and are familiar with the Monsters Inc. movies, I’m basically a taller Mike Wazowski with two eyes.

My recent bodily expansion has been a tongue-in-cheek source of entertainment whenever I visit their house. They have a scale at their house, and I don’t because I don’t want ready access to that information. But every time I visit them, I weigh-in when I arrive, and again when I leave. It’s usually about a five pound swing.

Christmas Eve, we had a great dinner, and between hors d’oeuvres, ham, and cookies continued to graze throughout the course of the evening. To be fair, I can really only speak for myself about the grazing. I recently learned from my doctors that what I thought was a gluten issue turned out to actually be a glutton issue. Thank goodness, I was afraid I was going to have to change my diet. The more I ate, and the more comfortably I sunk into the couch, the more pronounced my ever-growing belly would appear. So the lighthearted banter about what I like to call my fattitude commenced and quickly had my mother-in-law chuckling at my expense. (Since the sound of her laughter is a close second only to that of my own children, I more than likely will be making no effort to lose weight any time soon.)

We spent hours laughing, eating, enjoying the children’s joy, and exchanging gifts. I seemed to be routinely unwrapping gifts the likes of fleece pajama pants and bags of miniature Heath bars. Towards the end of the evening, I happened to glance down at my personal pile of gifts and I noticed a theme. My sarcastic, self-deprecating nature kicked in and I couldn’t help but make an announcement to everyone in the room. While faking sensitivity, I said; “Ya know what, for a bunch of people calling me fat have you noticed a theme to my gifts? So far everything I’ve gotten is either edible or has an elastic waist band. You’re a bunch of enablers!” I then pretended to storm out of the room followed by a chorus of hysterical laughter because thankfully they all know it was in jest.

One of the funniest parts about my gift pile was that up to this point, the only thing in it that didn’t fit the aforementioned criterion was a pair of bacon socks that my sister in law gave to me. That’s right, I now own bacon socks. I don’t care how cool you think your Christmas gifts were, I have bacon socks. I will wear them with pride. I will wear them pulled all the way up and with shorts.

I’ll be back to tell you more about my fun Christmas later. In the meantime please have a safe, healthy, happy, and prosperous new year.

Thanks for playing along.

Until next week, Syd Nichols