Every year I say "This year they are at a GREAT age for Christmas!", but I think it's really true this year because, friends, it was magical. Everyone finally woke up AFTER SEVEN, but I had been lying awake since six, when I'd gotten up to get the casserole out of the fridge and was too excited to go back to sleep. Santa did it up big this year. He set the table with bananas and glitter and a handwritten note! He posed two Lego Bionacles to guard the present stash. He put dinosaurs next to the stockings by the kids' doors! But let me back up...
We have Christmas Eve dinner at my aunt and uncle's house every year. She makes a traditional Polish Christmas Eve feast with borscht, pierogi, fish, a special dessert, and sometimes homemade lemon vodka. I look forward to it every year and this year the kids were looking forward to it too. Charlie said "The borscht and the fish and the perogi? I LOVE that meal!" Tradition, family, candles, warmth, a connection to the past, to another world. It makes my heart so happy.
Dish towel borcht bibs also make my heart happy.
We went to church next, for the children's service. Partway though all the kids go up front in their shepherd, king, and angel hats and crowd around the Newborn King. They stay there until it's time to light the candles and sing Silent Night. It is delicious chaos every year. I lost sight of Charlie and Wes, but they found their way back with no trouble at the end. James slept through all of it, even the manic bell ringing during "Joy to the World".
After church and hot chocolate we spent some time tracking Santa on the NORAD website. He was in Portugal. The kids were electrified.
Do you like my new dining room Space Shuttle? It was a gift from our babysitter. I joke about it, but I think it's the coolest thing in the whole house. I kind of want to sleep in it at night.
We had several false starts Christmas morning. The first wake up was at three. Wes had a bad dream. Bears, I think.
The next wake up was around six-ten. Wes collapsed on our floor, crying. We have no idea why, but he went back to sleep after Ryan put him back in his bed.
Finally, everyone was awake and coherent. I asked Charlie if Santa had come and his eyes popped out of his head. HE BROUGHT US DINOSAURS! He couldn't believe it. I remembered being a kid and feeling Santa's presence in my own house Christmas morning, when I woke up with my stocking at the end of my bed, the Christmas tree lights turned on, the presents. I knew Charlie was picturing Santa walking around in our hallway, arranging the stockings. I was giddy just thinking about it. Wes caught on shortly after and they both tore into their stockings.
Then we headed down the stairs and tried in vain to get them to eat something. We were really, really outmatched, mostly because we didn't want to wait around and eat bananas either. Santa had come through! Wes got his blue truck! Charlie got his walkie talkies (which are *awesome*. Today we took them to the park and let the kids walk all over the place and talk to us). James got his hand me down wooden stacking puzzle that we gave to Wes two years ago.
Then James took a nap while the big boys put together the new Lego Space Shuttle and I milled around making mulled apple cider, listening to Bing Crosby (Santa put a CD in my stocking!), and gathering the wrapping paper together.
Christmas dinner was at my aunt and uncle's house. It was a fabulous meal, as always. This year there were enough people to have a kids' table. My teenager cousin was especially thrilled to sit there.
James was thrilled to get a brand new toy.
My mom made costumes for all the kids to be in a Christmas pageant. THAT will be a new tradition because it was ADORABLE.
And this was the after-dinner entertainment. Charlie played so hard he woke up with sore muscles. I think there is a n XBox in our future.