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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced Wednesday afternoon that the House can't go home for the holidays until the fiscal cliff is resolved, which sounds horrible, but maybe isn't totally. Yes, many poor Hill staffers and lawmakers will have to stick around Washington while their families enjoy the holidays back home — and with negotiations seemingly stalled between Republicans and Democrats, the vote could get very close to Christmas. But sometimes good things come from gridlock. We checked in once again with Maddie Esposito, daughter of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, to find out what it's like when her mom gets caught in Washington for votes. She said at least once, it was a Christmas present:

The Saturday before Christmas 2010, they got stuck in DC for a few votes, including on the DREAM Act. This vote had been a point of contention between me and my mom for awhile — we'd get into long, intense conversations over the phone, go days without speaking. I wanted her to support it, but she was really conflicted. In Missouri, it was going to be a very hard vote for her politically.

The morning of the vote, I texted her, "I couldn't sleep last night because I'm sick to my stomach over your vote," and she responded, "Me either." Later, when she was on the floor, she texted me, "It's not even going to come close." Assuming that meant she was voting no, I was like "Oh, let me load up Twitter to see what awful things people I respect are saying about my mother." Then I saw someone tweeted that McCaskill was an aye, and I just started bawling. I texted her "OMG!!!!!!" and she replied "Merry Christmas honey!" Obviously it didn't pass, but I'd never been more proud, which is a sappy thing to say, I realize, but holidays make us all sappy, right?

There are other unexpected, even bipartisan, holiday quirks for political families. Esposito says one of her favorite things about going home for the holidays is looking at all the senators' Christmas cards:

They are THE BEST. Everyone is either in a field/forest, on a beach, or like, riding in a canoe. You wouldn't know by looking that all these old men are so into the great outdoors. Also, a lot big families are wearing some kind of fleece situation.

My favorite one to date was from Sen. John Cornyn, Christmas 2010. No picture, simple and to the point: "God bless Texas and the wonderful people who make her great."

John Kerry's 2007 card, found online, is above left. If you have any senators' rustic holiday cards, send them to me!

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