You know it is coming. You have time to prepare. Still the torrent of wrapping paper, clouds of powdered sugar and cinnamon and endless swarms of e-mails, cards, texts and visits just sneek up behind you. And I am beat. Worth all of the trouble? Yes. Would I do it all again? Absolutely. Am I tired? Um, yeah.
Christmas in my world can get sort of complicated. Between me and my husband, we have four pairs of parents that we need to coordinate with during the holidays. Four of my five brothers and I also squeeze in a Christmas cookie baking day with our children, ten little cousins in all. We did this on the 11th of December. One of my brothers lives in Japan and therefore can't make it to all of these events. In the midst of all this holiday madness, I somehow found time to make homemade cards, bake cookies for charity, begin coaching my sons' Destination Imagination team at school, look for my beautiful six year old cat who went missing when a window blew open while we were not home, take on new projects at work, go out a couple of times with some girlfriends and try to keep up with my daily life. No wonder I worry that I'm developing a case of shingles. Ha!
This season we went to my father's house first, on the 19th of December. There we enjoyed a delicious Cuban food dinner with three of my brothers and their families along with a couple of my father's wife's children and their families too. Christmas Eve was spent at my husband's mother's house. We celebrated with her, her husband and my husband's Great Aunt from his father's side of the family...a long story for another time. We were treated to an amazing prime rib dinner and our three children began the whirlwind of presents that come their way each year. The presents part can be tricky, too. Teaching the children to be grateful and not greedy. Polite and respectful. To not be expecting anything and be pleasantly surprised when there is something. When it just keeps coming from so many directions year after year after year, it can be quite a task. I feel like I am doing a good job keeping things in perspective for them. There is always going to be a little self-doubt though, I think. Time will tell.
One condition of spending Christmas Eve away from my own home is that I want to be home with my children by no later than 7:00 P.M. Over the years I have met some resistance from family members but I have tried to stay strong and stand my ground. I am in no way trying to be rude or disrespectful. I can not control how I am interpreted. As a mother, a lover of tradition and a wife, it is important to me to have the wind down time with my children and husband. We do the whole thing: cookies and milk set out for Santa right next to a carrot for the reindeer, read The Night Before Christmas together cuddled up on the couch, look out the window to see if Santa is up in the sky yet, perhaps with a little red light that may be Rudolph's nose. It is precious time. It can not be replaced or redone. I will not compromise much. It is our turn, my husband and I, to build these memories and traditions with our children. Our parents were allowed to do so when we were little and now it is our time.
And that is exactly what we did. It was adorable. We will never forget it.
Christmas morning started out quite early. My eleven year old actually set his alarm for 5:30 A.M. and my thirteen year old didn't stop him. They share a room, you see. We do have a rule that they can't come downstairs before 6:00 A.M. and that is what time I heard the boys come thundering down. I, of course, knew they had huge stockings to keep them busy, so I let myself sleep one more hour. Then, I gently nudged my hubby to let him know we had to get out of bed so we could wake up the two year old together. She woke up very happy. One pot of coffee later, we were done opening our presents and sat around and played. I made french toast and scrambled eggs. This leads us up to the hardest part of my Christmas schedule. The custody kind. My two boys always have the switch between their father and I at 11:00 A.M. on Christmas morning. We alternate every other year who gets the Eve and who gets the Day. Just one of those many things that happen as a result of a relationship gone south and children are involved. One of the forever consequences.
Once the boys left, the three of us had to get ready to go. Our first stop of the day being just over a half hour away to visit my husband's father and his long time girlfriend. The ride there did not go so well since our two year old had a bout of car sickness and made a little bit of a mess. It was sad to see but we eventually made it and were able to do a load of laundry, including the car seat cover and straps. A couple hours later, with bellies full of warm chili and homemade bread, we were off to the next stop. Another half hour drive brought us to my Mom's doorstep where she and her partner were hosting an Italian feast. My brothers and their families were there too. Very busy home and really delicious food. It was a good day but by 6:30 P.M. our daughter had had quite enough stimulation for one day and needed to get home. So that is where we took her, straight home. Straight to bed.
Whew! A movie on the couch snuggling with my Love and we called it a night. Wake up bright and early the next day and head off to work for my average Monday. The hurricane has passed...for now.