Despite the fact that I'm missing Borya and Julia terribly and wishing they were here with us on this day, we still managed to have a wonderful Christmas morning. Fred and I set a new personal best for ourselves, getting everything under the tree by about 10:00, and even watching a show before heading to bed. The kids were all sound asleep, crowded in Shane's double bed per tradition (might be hard to pull off next year).
5:30am, our minimum acceptable time for parental wake-up, came way too early for Fred, but not early enough for myself, considering I had my usual difficult time of sleeping through the night, and woke up about every hour. As soon as Fred and I were set up downstairs with the cameras, all the Christmas lights turned on, we released the hounds and they came barrelling downstairs, their eyes gleaming like maniacs. They ran over to the sofa, where Santa had set up each of their gifts: stereos for the girls and a waveboard and skateboard for Patrick and Daniel, with helmets and pads, of course. Then they each grabbed their stockings and went through to find what treasures had been left in there. After they had thoroughly registered Santa's gifts, we got down to the business of opening all the gifts under the tree. Although we try to exercise restraint, we really do, the kids usually end up with about a dozen gifts each from us, plus presents from each other, and a few from aunts and grandparents that hadn't been opened yet. Since we only open one gift at a time, and clean up paper and ribbons between "rounds", this is a process that takes a couple hours. But it was great fun. As I sat on the couch with my coffee in the glow of the Christmas tree lights, I got to see the joy in my kids' faces each time a gift was opened. And whether it was a $3.00 book, or a $20.00 DVD, or a homemade picture, they were all received equally enthusiastically. And that was the best gift a Mom can receive, to see that her kids truly appreciate what they've been given.
The critters were not forgotten either on this Christmas morn. A bag was brought to the barn with lettuce for the bunnies, carrots for the horses and goats. The wild bird feeder got filled with sunflower seed, and the indoor animals got a stocking filled with squeaky toys, chew bones and treats. Of course, at one point I noticed that Sunny, our rotten yellow Lab, had stolen the other dogs' toys and lay with them in a pile beside her. Pirate loot. With her "mad skills" (as Shane says), she had surgically extracted the squeakers from all three toys and sat there stupidly grinning, not knowing or not caring that she had done wrong.
The chaos complete, and a nutritious breakfast of cinnamon rolls and Christmas candy under our belts (well, PJs), we fell about the house in various stages of listening to music, reading, doing puzzles, playing video games and napping. Later, I went out to the driveway and let Daniel show me all sorts of things I didn't know he knew a thing about like "Ollies" and "heel-flips". Who knew the kid could skateboard?
In the afternoon I gathered together some kitchen helpers to peel a couple dozen potatoes. We're having Christmas dinner with our friends as we do every year. It's their turn to host this year, so I'm bringing the potatoes and a couple desserts. Between their family of eight and ours of six (for now), I figured I'd better double the recipe!
Well, the house is still a mess, with three lawn bags of trash and miles of ribbons and bows to sort through later, Christmas cookie crumbs and candy wrappers scattered about and piles of presents to find homes for somewhere in this house. But this is the way a house is supposed to look after Christmas morning. Isn't it? Please say yes ....
Have a very merry Christmas everybody!