Christmas at Home

We celebrate Christmas in our house. And boy do we gear up for it. The weekend after Thanksgiving we get a tree (a fir, cut from the tree farm down the road) shove into the van and set it up. By December 1st we have a trimmed tree, lights up, holiday themed dishware out on the table and more to come.

By Christmas Eve, we are ready to go–gifts wrapped, holiday music playing, a full refrigerator, stockings hung, festive as can be. So by Christmas morning the anticipation is pretty high. We spent the tail end of Christmas Eve at my sister-in-law’s place and so did not get home until later than the usual bedtime. Not that it mattered. Our kids were so excited that they had a hard time falling asleep. My son did not fall asleep until at least 11:00. He woke up around 4:00. He had the crazy idea that 4:00 was the time to get up and head downstairs. We had to put him off until 5:00. It was an early morning.

We had stockings stuffed with small gifts and opened those gifts first. We took a break for a waffle breakfast. We had a fire in the woodstove that heated things up fast–temperatures were in the forties. Some snow stayed on the ground at least. We had a lot of snow but then had two days of rain to wash most of it away. It was patchy Christmas morning but it was there at least. We opened gifts throughout the morning and early afternoon, trying to make it last. It is a pretty special day.

I took a short walk after our afternoon dinner. The breeze felt warm and clouds drifted across the gray sky. The water in the river was high with all the melted snow. Fields were flooded. A crescent moon dangled behind the clouds. The road was muddy. It was quiet. I thought about how this day is about giving and love and it made me want to simplify my life, get to what matters most more often.

The kids were asleep early. My daughter resisted the idea of going to bed earlier than usual, but she conked out pretty much immediately. My wife and I stayed up for a while, enjoying the quiet and the lights. We felt like successful parents, fostering the joy of the day, creating memories and all that. It turned out to be magical for all of us. After we turned out the lights and said goodnight to the tree, we headed to bed. It didn’t take long for us to conk out ourselves.

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Holiday Pics

My daughter was awake at 3:30 AM this morning. I gave her the good news that it was after midnight. I also gave her the bad news that she had to wait a few hours to get up for the day. We took a peek at the gifts laid out, then back to bed. She managed to fall asleep for about an hour between then and 5:30. Then she was up for the day. Her brother was not so stimulated. He was conked out until 5:45 when she went to “check on him.” Then we all were down by the Christmas tree, ogling the booty.

We unwrapped, with some restraint, for a couple of hours. We had some scattered breakfast. We ate candy. We took photos. And then it was play time. The children looked at books and did an art project and had some rescue pretending, among other things. Then they went outside and now we are ready for some apple pie. That was a special request from the early riser. That was easy enough to provide. Plus, it means I can eat pie as well.

The day is young and we have much play time to come. There may even be a bath involved, to test out the toy shark cage. Only a huge snowstorm could make this day better. Merry Christmas.

Heading Downstairs in the Dark

Loot

A Little Chaos

New Toy

I am not really a fan of stuff, and one type of stuff that seems to always grow is toys.  Our children have a gajillion toys.  We buy them toys occasionally (hard to resist when you are Disney World, for example) but they also arrive as gifts from friends and family, and they also arrive as toys that are outgrown by cousins or friends.

Our children have received many toys that are really great.  They have a huge collection of Lego and Duplo blocks, for example, that were given to them.  We did not have to buy any for them to be able to create buildings and spaceships and cars and cities.  My son’s favorite toys are wooden trains.  Most of those were given to us as well.  So we have received some good stuff and I am thankful for that, even if they don’t quite see the beneficence of their relations.

We have lots of crap as well, of course.  Can you say birthday party gift bags?  How many UPO’s have they generated?  About a bazillion, I’d say.  And the Mardi Gras parade this spring?  Plastic bead necklaces up the whazoo.  Too much, if you ask me.  Even if you don’t ask me it’s too much.

Today, however, our children got the most excellent toy.  My father-in-law had mentioned this teeter totter that his second set of kids had played with and loved, and that he was hoping to pass on.  He came by today and left a shiny new plaything.  The thing is, the one he dug out of his barn was broken, rusted, not in good shape.  It wouldn’t be safe to use.  So he made a new one.  It is strong and beefy and operates smoothly.  And it is no ordinary teeter totter.

Call it a seesaw if you will, but this doesn’t just pivot up and down.  The pivot also allows the cross beam to swing in all directions.  So it goes up and down, yes, but it also swings in circles.  My children have been playing on it for about three hours, with breaks for dinner and spraying each other with the hose.  They have been laughing most of the time as well.  I love this thing.  Not only is it just plain old fun, but they have to work together for it to be fun.  They seem to have it down pretty well at this point.  They are spinning fast.

I think my father-in-law ought to patent this thing and sell them.  Seriously.  It is fun just to watch them spin around and up and down.  I am betting that this becomes the toy of the summer.  They won’t play with it quite so much as the days go on.  They will become accustomed to it and the newness will wear off.  I am sure, however, that it will continue to be way fun for them.  It is one item of stuff I feel will get plenty of mileage at this household.

Santa in the House

Evidence of the Fat Man's Presence

Evidence of the Fat Man's Presence

We had a classic Christmas here at our house. Our children were pumped up on treats and gifts. As it should be. Santa came in the night and did his thing. We all benefited from his visit.

The parents were awake (5:30) before the youngsters (6:00 for one, 7:00 for the other) and we got started early. Snow showers fell during the critical morning hours to lend to the air of Christmas, but it was warm enough for some icy outdoor play after lunch. In the afternoon, both my wife and I even managed to fit in a run on this not quite frozen day.

The kids opened gifts all morning. We tried to keep it going slowly. We did not stick to the one-at-a-time everyone-goes-in-turn method employed when I grew up. We will do that in time, but it just feels wrong to keep small children from enjoying the thrill of unwrapping.

By request, we had pizza for lunch. We had out usual dinner of mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, peas and roasted maple butternut squash. That went down just fine. I realized that I did not have any candy until I had a half dozen M&M’s as I was making dinner. I did, however, have a vanilla Coke.

My daughter was so tuckered from going to bed late, rising early, and playing hard all day, that she was asleep by about 5:30. Her brother followed about an hour later. They couldn’t have had a better time. They don’t usually squabble, but had nary a disagreement all day.

Maybe we need to do this every day.