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The Christmas that never ends

A house full of family is a wonderful thing — even if it sometimes feels like an invading army has occupied the home.

Over the past few days, we celebrated a late Christmas with my wife’s family. Her parents, sister, brother-in-law and a niece and nephew from Texas joined our family of seven in Brookhaven for a few days. It was the first time we’ve hosted the annual event.

That’s 13 people — seven under the age of 10 — who needed a place to lay their heads and demanded food three times a day. They also expected to have something to do during their stay, as evidenced by the kids’ hourly proclamations of “I’m bored.”

It was no small challenge, but one that we realize was a blessing more than a curse. But that didn’t make it easy.

We had adults sleeping in trundle beds, children on air mattresses and almost always a line outside the bathrooms. We bought toilet paper in bulk to prepare for the invasion.

There was also an enormous amount of food to prepare, some of which had to be cooked twice because I tend to burn things. I eventually was given dish duty and told to stay away from the oven.

We lost and found — and then lost and found again — countless socks and favorite toys and a host of other items necessary to live.

The mother-in-law did the typical mother-in-law things. The father-in-law also did what fathers-in-law do, including breaking our new coffee maker. But both of them spent hours each day simply loving on our children, so I can look past their transgressions.

My side of the family celebrated Christmas on Christmas Day — like normal people — but we had to leave up the tree and all the decorations for another week to accommodate the Texas folks. The almost-brown Christmas tree dropped thousands of needles after Dec. 25 — as if protesting the extension of the holiday festivities. Like the tree needles, my Christmas spirit dropped as each day marched on.

The children, of course, reveled in the drawn-out holiday. They got two Christmas mornings, two times the gifts and gluttony and extra days of grandparents treating them better than they deserved. It was magical for them.

For the adults, not so much. But that’s family. And it’s what makes spending time with family so special — and maddening.

And next year, according to my mother-in-law, we won’t have to worry with the hassles of hosting since Christmas will return to its rightful place at her house. And I can again be part of the invading army instead of its host.

Luke Horton is the publisher of The Daily Leader.