A Nontraditional Family Christmas

This was a very special Christmas in the Military Dad household. The biggest reason for this was the amount of family that we had gathered for the event. As you can imagine, with both my brother and myself in the Navy, it’s rare that we can get the entire family together. Earlier this year, however, we both transferred to duty stations in the San Diego area. In addition, our mother moved in with us a few months ago. None of us had to work over the holiday, so this was the first time that we have all been together for Christmas since I left for boot camp 14 years ago. As a result, we wanted to do something special and unique.

The day started off normally enough with a few exceptions. My brother and his wife spent the night, so they crashed in the kids’ beds while the kids slept in sleeping bags on our bedroom floor. We were all up and about by 6:00, had a really good pancake breakfast, and opened all of our presents. It doesn’t happen very often, but I have to admit that the kids got exactly what they wanted/needed this year. Usually, they don’t even start playing with their toys until the boxes that they came in have disintegrated. This year, however, they could barely finish opening all the gifts before they started playing. The highlight of my presents was a couple ounces of Monkey Picked Oolong Tea which is absolutely the most delicious hot drink that I have ever tried.

After we opened our gifts, the day stopped being normal. Military Gramma had decided awhile back what we would be doing on this special occasion. She wanted for us all to get dressed up in our best outfits and then go to the beach to take pictures barefoot. If this sounds a little strange to you (and why wouldn’t it), there’s something that you should understand: my mother has lived her entire life in North Dakota. To celebrate her “liberation,” she decided that she would like to do the most un-NoDak thing that she could think of. Going to the beach is generally out of the question there due to the whole lack of ocean thing. In addition, venturing outside in late December can be very bad for your health. Here, however, we have ocean galore and beautiful weather, so she wanted to take advantage of it.

Therefore, around 9:00, we all changed into our best clothes. My mother, wife, daughter, and sister-in-law all put on long dresses. My brother, son, and I all put on nice shirts with ties and dinner jackets. We all piled into the car and drove up to the beach on Camp Pendleton. We spent a couple hours there taking different pictures. This is one of the many advantages of being married to a photographer. There were a few hiccups along the way. For some reason, my wife’s remote camera clicker wouldn’t work from more than about 5 feet from the camera. As a result, we weren’t able to get very many good shots with her in them since she was forced to stand behind the camera. Also, the kids couldn’t stay away from the water (which we expected), so by the end, all of our awesome clothes were full of sand and seawater. In the end though, it was awesome. We got some great pictures, had a very good time, and enjoyed the terrific Southern California weather. You can check out some of the pictures here (be sure to click the arrows on the side or the magnifying glass to see all the pictures).

We stopped to get lunch at Coco’s on the way home since it was the only place we could find that was open (we didn’t plan that part out very well). We finished the day off with the not-so-traditional Christmas meal of lasagna and then played pinochle until my brother and his wife had to head home. It was a pretty awesome day, and if we’re somewhat out of practice from being apart for 14 years, I think we did ok. In fact, it’s gonna be pretty hard to top this one next year.

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