Sunday, December 20, 2009

And for all these years, I though Wassail was some sort of cider.

For the last sixty-three years, the Cruise sisters, their husbands and children have gathered together to celebrate Christmas. Every Christmas morning, each sister and her family would celebrate at their own house and then travel to Durham to Grandmother and Grandaddy’s house for an evening family gathering. About a week or so prior to this, we would all gather at Melba and Randall’s house to Christmas carol around their neighborhood, eat a ridiculously delicious southern meal and then engage in a rousing round of Yankee Swap {or White Elephant or Dirty Santa or whatever else you may prefer to call it}.

Every year this would happen like clockwork. I have precious and laughter-filled memories of caroling through the cold streets of Roxboro, finally at 16 being old enough to participate in my rooky round of Yankee Swap and anxiously anticipating seeing all my cousins so that I could boss them around in Grandmother and Grandaddy’s basement.
But then all of us grandkids started getting married and having kid
s of our own and in-laws to go see at Christmas. The two separate gatherings became harder and harder to coordinate so we simply combined both events into one and held it the weekend before Christmas. Voila! Cruise Family Christmas lives on. And this year has been no different…

C’mon everybody! Let’s go caroling!
The Hamiltons, our fine hosts, decked out even the car.
A flatbed trailer to carry us this year! We’re caroling in style…
Caroling from dusk into night…
DSC_7742  DSC_7746
Each year, the hosts {this year, Aunt Betsy and Uncle Todd} alert their neighbors to the fact that we’ll be coming around and caroling for them. This year, the weather being what it was {freaking freezing!} there wasn’t the…shall we say…generous spirit of caroling for all the neighbors no matter how long it took. After over an hour of riding around and singing in the just above freezing temps, several of our group were ready to head back home. But as we passed one brightly lit home, we saw several young children throw their front door open and run onto the porch. Clearly, they had been anticipating our arrival.

But it was cold.

And we were freezing.

And I was really having a hard time feeling my fingers or toes which was invoking repeated thoughts of one of the greatest Christmas movie lines, “Clark, Audrey’s frozen from the waist down.” {If you don’t know to what movie I am referring, just don’t tell me. But get thee to Blockbuster and rent “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, STAT.}

Still, when small children are standing in their front yard watching you drive away, it tugs on your frozen heartstrings. Well, it does for some of us. For one aunt who shall remain nameless it did not hold the same power it did for the rest of us. “I don’t care if it’s the three wise men, I am not singing for anyone else tonight!”


We made a pit stop back at Betsy and Todd’s house to drop off the weary and cold, then headed back for one last caroling visit. And it’s a good thing we did, because the mom had already loaded her kids in the car and was headed towards us so we could sing for them. I’m not saying that we were all that brilliant sounding but, clearly, if you promise caroling you better deliver the goods.

Happy wassailing, my friends!


  1. I love family traditions...and I love hearing others.


  2. Your family has the most wonderful traditions!

  3. Sarah9:07 AM

    Sounds like you had a great time. I am so glad you were safe. I would love to hear carolers and see snow. Ahhh, what a perfect scene. All your pictures are beautiful.

  4. Anonymous2:49 PM

    "It's all part of the experience, honey."


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