Or, as my friend Chip would say; "Let the mild rumpus start!"
I have been waiting for this week since Thanksgiving. I have the entire week off. Actually, I've been off since Wednesday evening, but I've been in scramble mode for the last several days.
I spent most of Thursday wrapping things. I got a bit of a chuckle over how much my attitude toward Christmas has changed since before the kids came along. I used to be quite a fussbudget about gifts and getting every little detail right, down to the perfect wrapping. Now, I let Piper get gift certificates for most people on our list, I drove out to my favorite jewelry store and got earrings or bracelets for each of my nieces and a few other women on my list. I even let Pumpkin help with the wrapping. It's not pretty and I don't have the time to care. How liberating!
Side note 1: Pumpkin is so enamored of the miracle properties of Scotch tape, that I put a few rolls in his stocking. I'd credit the blogger I got the idea from, but I've forgotten who it was. If it was you, brilliant! I figure when he's in his 20s he'll graduate to duct tape, like most men.
Christmas for us started around 6 or 7 AM Christmas Eve morning. It started as many mornings do, with an argument between the boys. I don't remember what it was about, and it really doesn't matter. More than likely Tigger was teasing his brother, and his brother was hollering SHUUUTTUPPP! It's like a call and response thing between them, like clockwork, most mornings. I used to set an alarm, now I have children.
Since I knew I had a million things to do, I didn't even try to go back to sleep, but took my shower right away and got started on "the list." Having the day before off was the way to go, because the stuffing was already made and half the Christmas dishes were already washed. I just had to prep the potatoes, and talk Pumpkin into cleaning up the mudroom so we could go get bagels for the next morning.
Side Note 2: Yes, I have Christmas dishes. They were my mother's. She gave them to me a few years ago and they have sat in boxes in the basement along with the my wedding china which was also hers. Piper and I have been married 18 years and have never used the china. My mother has made noises about wanting it back, but I can't imagine what she's going to do with it either.
Side Note 3: Bagels and lox for breakfast every Christmas morning. I take some perverse pleasure in having Jewish food for Christmas. I don't know why, but Christmas wouldn't be the same without it.
Our trip to get bagels also involved a trip to a big box hardware store for my last gift. Piper had been looking at table saws and I was thinking to get him one, but got overwhelmed at all the choices. I got him a gift card so he can make the decision. While we were there, Pumpkin insisted on looking through a book about designing bathrooms. I'm not sure where this interest came from or whether anything will come from it as his geography obsession clearly has, but on the way home, Pumpkin asked why we didn't have a bathroom with a "standing bath." Unfortunately, he got rather frustrated with me as I had no idea what he meant. Finally, I handed him a notebook and asked him to draw one for me. What he drew turned out to be a clawfoot tub! Found in translation!
Back at home I stuffed the turkey and put it in the oven. I have learned to pour a little water in the bottom of the roasting pan, not touching the rack, so the raost doesn't dry out, the drippings don't burn at the bottom of the pan, and you have the start of a fabulous gravy.
Tigger needed to be at the church at 2:30 for reading rehearsal. In past years I have gone with him and staked out a pew. The family Christmas service is the most well-attended event at the church and rows of extra chairs have to be pulled into our small sanctuary. My in-laws arrived around 3 and the service began at 4.
In addition to reading, Tigger was one of four kids who sung all the music. T is in the 4th grade, there is another girl in the group who is in grade 5 and the other two are 8th graders. One of the reasons that I chose this church was its willingness to let kids be kids. There is no time when that sentiment is more evident than this Christmas Eve service. Our attendence there began on Tigger's first Christmas Eve with us. He spent the entire service asking if we could leave now. The priest ended the service with "the Mass is ended, yes Tigger, you can leave now, go in peace."
I spent this service marvelling at how old everyone had gotten. Not in a bad way. My neighbor's boys were up at the altar with Tigger. I've known them since they were babies. They are teenagers now, all dressed up in ties - real ties, not the clip on kind. The daughters of other friends are back home from college. Time marches on.
After the service, there was turkey. Then there was dessert and gifts across the street. I gave the older teenager a chef's knife. He is constantly asking me how to make the things I cook. Later this week I will put together some recipes for him. That's part of the gift. The younger boy got a book on making cheap special effects for video. There are some gifts I can still get just right.
It's late when we get back, but most of the wrapping is done, so all we have to do is pull things from their hiding places after the kids go to bed. Tigger is pretty sure that we are Santa, but not certain. Pumpkin still wonders if Santa can see him in the bathroom.
Christmas Day begins at 5:30. Piper finds the boys sitting in the dark, waiting for 6:00 when they can wake everyone up. He has figured out how to use the timer on the coffee machine. It worked. Piper's big present was a video camera. Mine was a chest freezer that I have wanted since we got the vegetable garden going again. Tigger got a skateboard, and Pumpkin got his own camera, which I hope he'll use instead of my iPhone.
There were a few hours of resting and playing with gifts. I got in a quick nap. We packed a change of clothes and headed for Easton to spend a few hours with Piper's family before heading down to CT.
After Thanksgiving, I wanted to spend as little time as possible in Connecticut. The storm gave me a good reason to leave early. We spent less than 24 hours at my mother's. Obligation fulfilled. The storm started just before we left at noon. It took us 6 hours to get home, including the bookstore break we took just to get out of the car. Getting stuck behind plows is no fun at all, but it is probably safer than being in front of them.
We woke this morning to find the power out. It remained out until 6:30 PM. We had a blissfully quiet day full of Lego kits, Calvin & Hobbes, games and naps. My iPhone was the only connection to the outside world.
I have the rest of the week off. I look forward to not doing a whole lot.
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