In the great debate of what’s better–Team Anticipation of Christmas Day or Team Actual Christmas Day, I always seem to find my answer in that little overlap–somewhere around 2 a.m. between the two teams–after we have tucked excited kids in bed, swept away the glittery piles of reindeer food from the driveway, eaten Santa’s cookies with a heap of leftover crumb evidence, sipped his milk half-gone, carefully filled the stockings and propped them up, wrapped “the last few presents” that turned out to be 17 oddly-shaped gifts, prepped the Christmas breakfast and cleaned the house so that the welcoming scene Christmas morning looks as storybook as possible.
That’s where I find my favorite moment, right before I finally crash just hours before everyone wakes up. I survey the scene and download the details, making note of what’s different, what I remember from past years, new things I love, what I know I’m going to miss…
Dash’s exuberant Santa Watch brought an electric joy that permeated our home Christmas Eve. The binoculars to the sky, the gasps over twinkling stars he was sure were Santa’s sleigh…
The constant check-ins on the Santa tracker and ecstatic reporting to the family. “He’s in Scotland! He’s in Scotland!” Dash hollered throughout the house as he ran to every room, showing us the map on Brett’s phone. My sister passionately played along from Michigan all day Christmas Eve, texting “Tell Dash he’s in Russia!” and calling to receive his newest report.
I tallied up so many mental notes of “This is the best” throughout the day, aware of how happy this all makes us, how sweet it is.
My dad and Gary spend the night every Christmas Eve. We watch the last of the Christmas movies by the fire–Christmas Vacation, White Christmas and The Family Stone–one right after another. My dad stays up to help Brett put together the big presents and assist me in the last of the wrapping; and again, I make note and download the details, aware that I will always remember sitting next to the fire with my dad on Christmas Eves, passing scissors and tape back and forth, listening to him question my love for The Family Stone because “all they do is fight” and “it’s too much madness, White Christmas is way better.” I think not.
And then morning comes and I wake up early without an alarm just to soak it all in one more time by myself. I light the fire and every last candle we own, make the coffee, turn on the music and wait for the first sounds of commotion from the kids.
They know not to come out until we’re ready. Their shared excitement is so big, there’s no room for bickering. In fact, they’re extra huggy and lovey and giggly as they wait, and I hope they’ll always remember the feeling of huddling together, anticipating what’s to come.
And then we give the all clear. “Okay! You can come out!” And they run, smiling, squealing, overstimulated by all there is to notice. The cookies are gone. The presents. The proof of reindeer. The maze of string trailing from the tree. I heard Dash gush, “This is the best day of my life” at one point. And I just sip my coffee and take it all in.
Christmas breakfast follows the presents. More coffee. Mimosas. Eggs and sticky buns and extra helpings because Christmas.
This year, I took a nap after the dust settled on Christmas day–an appropriate move for an almost 41-year-old to commemorate her 13th Christmas as a mom. I love it all so much.
Our Christmas miracle came in the form of cleaning up the morning mess and restoring the house to entertaining status for another wave of family Christmas evening. The fire was lit, the food laid out and the presents neatly tucked back under the tree, and Brett turned to me and asked, “How the hell did we do this?”
The kids endured a short wave of post Christmas sads before bed (“It’s all over!”) in which Brett scooped them all into a giant hug and we reminded them that nothing is over. Grateful to experience all of it, eager for a fresh start next year.
Hoping everyone had a wonderful holiday and excited to share more love with you in 2020.