Christmas Morning

Apparently we are all very lazy in this household when it comes to Christmas.

This year I stuffed stockings for the first time, since after all I only completed the stockings last January. And I suppose that, in my own defense, I wasn’t entirely lazy about it. I did make a list well ahead of time, and gather together chocolates and candies and small trucks and a small, toy pair of binoculars. (Nathan really likes binoculars.) I even sewed little organza bags for the chocolates, which I knew the entire time was complete overkill, since the boys would not care about the bags except inasmuch as they needed to get the chocolates out, right now.

The actual laziness came into play on Christmas Eve. It was a late night, and the kids didn’t want to go to sleep. This was not because of anticipation of Christmas morning; at their current ages I feel like I have to talk about Christmas a lot with them in an attempt to drum up interest. No, it was just one of those nights (rare now, fortunately) where being confined to a bed was simply torture for both boys. And after they were finally quiet, I lay there in my own warm, cozy bed and wondered: was it really worth it? I mean, would they care whether the stockings were already filled when they woke up, or became mysteriously filled sometime later in the morning? Since we don’t use the Santa Claus story, would it really matter?

Somewhere in the midst of debating this, it became morning.

And I’ve decided that it was probably a good thing to wait. It gave us the chance to get through breakfast before the kids started gorging themselves on chocolate. Laziness is not all bad.

The laziness is not all mine, either. I did finally bring the stuffed stockings out and set them down on the floor of the sun room. Both kids delved into their stocking… and then, as soon as they’d found the first truck and bag of chocolate, stopped. Mild prodding on my part to explore the rest of the stocking failed to elicit interest. After some consideration, I decided that I didn’t really care, and anyway it would spread out the novelty. After all, the whole point of staying home for a nice quiet Christmas is that we’re not on a schedule.

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Christmas Eve

I decided to let the boys open gifts on Christmas Eve this year, since there will be stockings to anticipate tomorrow. No point cramming it all together; the more Christmas, the better, I say.

The gifts were judged to be a resounding success by all. After a good long truck session, they demanded to take a bath expressly to play with their new bath toys.

The Tree

Last summer I managed to kill our living Christmas tree. Not that I was trying to kill it, mind you; but ornamental plants in my world have to expect a certain amount of neglect, and apparently I neglected it a little more than usual this year. Or maybe, after living with me for almost nine years, it had simply lost heart.

In any case, I consistently failed to replace it in the months between summer and Christmas, and thus in early December we were out scouting for a Christmas tree for the first time since we were married. I was torn; on the one hand I really like the idea of a living Christmas tree, and was hoping to find another one; on the other, I’d decided that if I was going to put the work in to keep the thing alive (and hopefully I would), I wanted to be picky about what I got. Ever since the extremely memorable 12-ft Noble fir that my parents got one year, I’ve been particular to Nobles. But for some reason potted Nobles seemed to be scarce. Or at least, my rather scattered attempts at searching for one failed miserably.

That idea thwarted, I completely failed to compromise, and instead picked out a six-foot cut Noble fir. Because hey, a big tree would be really fun for the kids, right? And little kids are the best part of Christmas.

To be completely honest, I’m not sure they cared what size or type of tree we got. But they did care — a lot — about getting out the Christmas lights. We could skip the tree altogether and just string lights up around the ceiling, and I suspect that Nathan would be just as happy. At the moment that idea is highly tempting… but I know it’s only because I’ve said “Please be gentle with the Christmas tree” and “Don’t pull on the lights” so often.

In any case, after the intense excitement of putting lights around the tree, the kids were able to muster some enthusiasm for ornaments as well. I brought out a variety — most (theoretically) unbreakable, but a few delicate ones as well, just as a test. After all, I didn’t know: how old do kids need to be before they can resist the exquisite pleasure of crushing fragile glass ornaments?

Answer: older than two. Maybe four as well; I rather suspect Nathan of more subtlety than Ryan, but no more self-control. The breakage didn’t start at once, but after the first (accidental, I believe) destruction, suddenly glass fragments began appearing on the carpet at an alarming rate. Our tree has begun to take on a three-tiered structure. On the top layer, the lights are still fairly evenly distributed, but it has quickly become clogged with ornaments as they were collected from the floor and raised above the reach of small hands. Under that is a dark layer, and the lowest tiers of the tree have become thick with lights that have been pulled down, twig by twig.

At first I tried to rearrange things occasionally, maintaining the tree as a decoration in the household. Eventually, though, I accepted the progression as inevitable entropy. The tree no longer shines quite so brightly (except at the bottom), but I’ve decided that you can’t be too picky about these things.

I don’t for a moment believe that I’ll skip doing a tree next year. That idea might be slightly tempting now, but come next December I guarantee that all caution will be dead, buried, and forgotten. Still, I am trying to embed a mental note to scale down next year. Maybe (I find myself thinking when I hear Nathan driving a truck into the tree’s lower branches — again)… maybe I’ll go for just a little tree next year. A foot and a half is plenty of tree for little kids, right?

Or maybe (as I hear his truck hit again)… maybe just a branch nailed to the wall.

Good Things

A few of many, in no particular order.

  • We’ve made it to chapter books! Nathan and I have been reading the Magic Tree House series together. They are short enough that we can read them at a gulp in one (rather long) sitting, but they are still real chapter books. I’m not sure which one of us enjoys them more.
  • The bedtime battles have diminished considerably. Not so much our battles to get them to bed, but the battles between Nathan and Ryan after they’ve been tucked in. It used to be that, even with a bolster positioned strategically between them, fighting ensued as soon as they were settled next to each other. And then, miraculously, it nearly ceased. A few nights into this cease-fire, Ryan crawled out of the blankets where I’d just tucked him in and snuggled down over on Nathan’s side instead. He told me he wanted to snuggle. “That’s fine,” I said, trying to keep the wariness out of my voice, “as long as Nathan’s ok with it.” “I’m ok with it,” said Nathan, and wrapped his arm around Ryan. They lay there snuggled together and looked up at me like a couple of… well, sweet angelic children. I did a quick pinch-test to make sure that I was not in fact dreaming, and then accepted that gift with grace and got the heck out.
  • Ryan has acquired a new habit lately. “I yike you!” he’ll say, throwing his little arms around my neck (I admit that this is most touching when he doesn’t do so from behind). He hands out a sweet hug and a kiss. Sometimes he mixes it up a little by saying “I yuv you!” instead. Man, that makes me smile just thinking about it.