I lay in bed, my eyes closed, waiting. I thought I was waiting for sleep to overtake me but I think I was really waiting for her. How else can I explain why I was wide awake at 1:45 am on Christmas morning. But I was.
Click. Slam. Thump, thump, thump.
Did you hear that? I asked the husband. Yes he said. We both jumped out of bed and followed the girl down the stairs.
At the bottom step I heard her call out Grandma! Grandma! but instead of running to where Grandma was sleeping on the sofa bed she ran in circles around the hallway and living room wall. It was on one of her laps that she bumped into me.
What are you doing? I asked her. Come back to bed.
I can't find Grandma she cried.
It was just a bad dream I reassured her. Grandma is just sleeping. Everything is fine.
We tucked her back in bed and waited for her to settle. Instead she hacked loudly and coughed repeatedly. The boy's rustling in his bed made us decide to try something different. So I took the girl to bed with me.
It seems to be a holiday tradition now, spending the late hours of Christmas Eve together. I kept thinking about last year as the girl tossed and turned and tried to convince me it really was time to go downstairs. She didn't even care about the presents waiting under the tree. She was just ready to be awake.
By quarter to four I gave up trying and sent her back to her bed. She fell asleep instantly. The husband and I slept too; until the boy woke at for the day 4:30 am. Followed by his sister fifteen minutes later.
I despaired about the day when it was already 5am and I had been up most of the night. If it hadn't been for Grandma distracting them with their stocking for a few more hours while the husband and I slept, I would have been short on Christmas cheer.
It was close to 7:30am by the time the household was all awake. I was determined to push through my exhaustion. Luckily it was easy to get swept up in the kids' excitement. They had to show me each of the items they had earlier pulled from their stockings. The girl had to help me look through mine.
Playing back in the sunroom, the kids had yet to see the piles of presents under the Christmas tree tucked into the corner of the living room. Once we turned on the lights they rushed in and exclaimed about everything they saw. The girl was momentarily distracted by the huge dollhouse the husband and I had bought her. I wanted to have her love it. To know that she loved it. I think she does. There was just too many presents for her to stop for any one.
The girl kept us moving. She handed out the presents, helped slow people open them faster and quickly moved us onto the next. She had to cajole her brother into opening the stack of presents growing beside him. He was too engrossed with the car tracks he had been given, the very first present he opened, to care about anything else.
The gifts under the tree this year were all very thoughtful. The girl loved her ballet slippers from Nana. I was thrilled with my bread box. The boy stopped playing with his cars long enough to race up and down the hallway throwing his small Winnipeg Blue Bombers football. It was a very successful Christmas morning.
I felt myself flag briefly while both the kids napped. We had had to strong arm the girl into spending some "quiet time" in our bed, but finally she gave into the tiredness that was overtaking her. I contemplated lying in bed with her, knowing that this time we would both be sleeping, but there was too much to do. Too much I wanted to do.
I made lemon pudding. I cooked cranberry sauce. I helped the husband prepare and organize and prep the rest of the food for the dinner. I chatted with my sister. I talked to my mother-in-law. I felt myself float through the middle of the day on a cloud of contentment. Being glad to have so many of my family with me on this day. Happy to see everyone so happy.
With our guests due to arrive soon I hurried to finish getting ready. I put on a dress. I applied makeup. I wore new jewelry I had unwrapped just that morning. I was ready to celebrate.
Our friends were lovely. The kids all played well together. The food was good, especially the vinarterta. I had a flashback to Boxing Day gatherings in the past when we would join my Grandma's family for dinner, the kids eating in front of the tv and the adults in the other room. As I turned on a video for the four kids snuggled in two chairs I finally understood the value of the age separation. The adults were able to talk as the kids giggled and yelled from the back of the house.
I had to ask my friend Do you let your kids leave the table once they are done? Are you ok with them not eating everything on their plate? Can they watch a video? We have had company before where the differences in our parenting suddenly became apparent in the dining room and made for an awkward meal. Her easy attitude to everything made the evening go smoothly and made me resolve to have them for dinner again soon.
The kids were ready for bed, the boy wearing both his and his sister's new pajamas, and I said goodnight. I ate some more vinaterta and then headed to bed myself. Tired but pleased. Certain in my knowledge that I had my best Christmas yet.