You've heard of, I'm sure, the book, "Tuesdays with Morrie," which was like many other novels turned into a movie-of-the-week. In my family, we have Christmas and then our Christmas(es) with Mary, which could be a novel or the very least, a movie of the week. Likely a bad movie of the week, but one none-the-less.

Mary is my sister who lives in Maryland. She usually spends Christmas at home with her family and her in-laws who fly in from Florida for a week to 10 days between Christmas and New Year's. Then, she, in conjunction with the rest of the family, picks a weekend in January for her to come, so the family can have its Christmas with Mary, as my Mom has coined it, celebration.

Other than the fact I was sick , the event went rather smoothly. The guys (and Mary) were situated in front of the TV for the Redskins and Tampa Bay game - despite living closer to Washington, D.C., Mary and family are no Redskins' fans and she was very disappointed that they won.

The kids all seemed to play well together. Maybe too well...

Garrett and Ryan were playing a game where they would throw a tiny plastic ball up the steps to each other. In the process, they were to see if they could hit either Matthew or Andrew with the ball. Well, they did - and Matthew cried.

As she comforted him, his mother and my sister, Debbie, said incredulously how they were trying to hit Matthew and Andrew with the ball.

"Yeah?" replied my brother Steve. "That was the game."

"My sons are not moving targets!" Debbie said.

"They've been playing it for an hour," Steve replied.

Well, the game was over after that, though on an ironic note, later when she was teaching Matthew and Andrew how to throw the ball up the steps, Debbie hit Andrew in the head with the ball. But, he only laughed.

Giving out the presents is always a chaotic time, no matter how well we try to organize it. With nine boys under the age of 12, it's bound to be, but every year we try to get some semblance of order to the routine. And, every year, it fails.

My sister Sharon designated herself the gift-giver, so she was giving out the presents. She was giving them out so that each child opened their presents one at a time, that way we could all see what the child got.

Anthony went first. When told it was time to open presents, he immediately started opening one that had his name on it. Then afterward was like, "I only get one present?" There was another one for him that Sharon didn't see right away.

Poor Brett was trying to be patient, as Sharon seemingly was overlooking him to the other boys. She finally assured he'd be next on the list, and in all the confusion, she almost forgot to give Lauren her gift.

I was most envious of Ryan's gift of an air hockey game. I love air hockey. Every time I'm at the shore and I pass the arcades, I have to go in and play a game. I had seen an air hockey game on sale at Eckerd's before Christmas and had thought to myself about going back afterwards and seeing if it was reduced more, but I forgot all about it. Seeing Ryan's game made me remember, but it's too late now.

That brought Christmas 2005 to a close, even though it's technically 2006 now - and we'll just repeat the cycle in a mere 11 months. How disconcerting!

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