Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Wrap up

Life has settled into an amazing pattern of non stress. We are on our stay-cation. And while at some points it has seemed frustrating (shouldn't everything be organized, cleaned and ready while we are staying here at home??) it also has been incredibly rewarding.

Time with family is a gift.

What an emotional Christmas this year was. Having two young children is magical. Everyone tells you that. From the lady in the shop to the old man down the block. But it IS. It really is. I have always loved Christmas. Always. But seeing it through my kids eyes is just a blessing. The excitement was insane! On December 20th, when they opened the three (!) advent calendars, they started to bounce up and down. "It is in the 20s! It is in the 20s!" My gosh, it was insane.

Meanwhile, in non Christmas world, work continued to march on, requiring me to work late hours. Gifts needed to be purchased, holiday cards mailed, etc., etc. My to-do list was multiple pages long. Oh, and we had a bathroom renovation in the works so we were down a bathroom.

And all the while, I kept reading about Newtown. And tears would come to my eyes. Quickly. Seeing images of parents burying six year olds while my own six year old bubbled on about holiday parties at school, her sincere hope for a guinea pig from Santa and her gymnastics class left me feeling both entirely depressed and so grateful. Maybe another post will address all of THOSE issues. But I found myself in tears daily. And I hugged my kids extra tight.  I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Christmas was still about the presents, yes. But this year, in a very real and tragic way, made me think about what is super important: my family, my friends and our health.

Back to the elves.

We did it up right this holiday season. Drives in the car to see lights while sipping hot cocoa, making cookies to share with the neighbors, learning and singing Christmas carols, going on a huge sleigh ride, seeing Santa twice, cutting down our own tree. The kids bought each other presents and we looked for our elf. It was an amazing three weeks.

Christmas eve finally, FINALLY came. As per our tradition, we open the gifts from Sam's parents over skype in the morning of Christmas eve. Seren, my little excited one, woke up at 5:30 on Christmas Eve. She was THAT excited. She actually stood in place and 'ran' in place while squealing!! The kids loved the gifts from Sam's parents. They were way too generous, as usual. The excitement in the air felt like electricity. My gosh. Meanwhile, Sam and I were exhausted- trying to keep the lies in order, worrying about our 'guinea pig' secret, and trying to get it all ready.

Opening up the gifts did take the edge off the excitement and build up. So that was awesome. They played while Sam finished up making his Polish dinner. Complete with fun traditions like finding the north star, putting hay on the table and other traditions that had meaning.  We went to church at 4:30 and Seren dressed as an angel.  We were home shortly after and simply had to wait for Santa to arrive around 8:30.

What a long wait. Nothing like the day before Christmas. I was mostly ready. But we had to fetch the guinea pig (who was staying with friends), pick the bike up from our neighbors house and entertain our balls of electricity.

Then it began to snow! It was amazing!! We got cookies ready for Santa and carrots out for the reindeer. Both Preschool and first grade sent home 'reindeer food' so dressed in our PJs and snow boots, we went into the yard and sprinkled it on the front lawn. It was freezing in the snow but so magical.

Finally, we heard the fire truck and its siren get louder and louder. The moment had arrived. With my own heart pumping, we ran into the front yard to get a look at him. My own eyes watered as my children literally bounced up and down, waved and screamed 'SANTA! MERRY CHRISTMAS!' to Santa as the snow fell.

My best friend asked if I captured it on film.

I didn't. I just wanted to be present. Fully present. The silhouette of my kids waving and jumping up and down is fresh in my mind. It won't be a week from now and certainly, 10 years from now, I won't have the memory. Then I wish that I had brought out the the video camera; I'd be able to replay it.

The cold weather, the magic of Christmas when you are 6 and 4 and the fact that life is really way too short... and that all of life is one giant amazing, complex, mystery...for that moment: that one moment, I FELT Christmas.

We tucked them into bed shortly afterwards. And then our work of finishing it up all began. We finished around midnight. I'm not so sure why it took so long but it did.

At 4:30 Seren was up! I'm not proud to admit it but I wasn't a happy Christmas elf at 4:30 am. I told her to go back to sleep until 6. And she did! By 6:30, we woke up Wyeth.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!! What joy! Seren and Wyeth came down the stairs and saw the huge guinea pig cage! She screamed, "Santa got me a cage! He really did! He got me a cage!" Meanwhile, Wyeth is saying, "Something is in it! Something is moving in there!"

The guinea pig arrived!

(And how bad would it have sucked if all Santa got her was a cage!?)

It was awesome! She was beside herself and began to mutter, I can't believe he really did do it. Just tonight putting her down a week later, she said the same thing, "I can't believe he really got me a live animal."

The day moved on at an awesome pace. Not too fast. Not too slow. Just right. After a 3-4 week build up of excitement, there was bound to be a few ups and downs on everyone's parts. But mostly UPs! Wyeth received some beloved trucks (from Bruder) and his own guitar. He also got a sled from Santa which was a huge hit! He sat in it while he ate his Christmas breakfast.  The last thing Seren opened was her new (to us) bike. What a big 'wow' that was!

So we had a blast during our morning. When we all were getting into 'too much Christmas', we took a break and I showered. We just took it at our own pace.

And now it is all done. The gifts are all opened. Time with my extended family is complete. (I will post about time at home with my mom, dad and brother) and the work week calls.

I'm trying hard to just keep the important things first. The quiet of the last few days, post Christmas, has been  calming. Our 'adventures' have been limited to family walks, one haircut, some errands...but mostly playing, and just BEING family. I have focused on 'DOING' family time. For instance,  I found myself playing the game 'Sorry' for about an hour. That sort of thing. I have loved it.

It was an emotional Christmas for me. Sadness and grief for Newtown. A sense of deep gratitude for my blessings. Knowing that life moves on quickly. It was a week full of excitement, sadness and deep joy. We are so very blessed.

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