I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Ours exceeded our expectations in nearly every way; things did not go as planned, but we had a joyful day as a family.
Some special friends joined us for dinner on Christmas Eve which was followed by a spontaneous Christmas pageant.
I haven’t had a chance to write about it, but over the last couple of weeks, as Christmas grew closer, Dimples began to struggle more and more. I know her well enough now that I could see her anxiety increasing and her mind spinning. Her hopes were growing so high and her fears were growing at the same rate. It is hard to explain, but she was churned up, worried, and very unsettled.
I tried to help her by talking her through what was going to happen on Christmas. First thing in the morning, there would be a stocking filled with small gifts waiting for each child. We would all gather by the tree and open stockings. Then we would have breakfast and finish our Advent readings. After breakfast we would gather in the family room again and open presents one at a time. There would be two gifts for each child, plus one from a brother or sister, and one from the grandparents. These discussions reminded me of her first weeks at home when every afternoon she would list out the events for the rest of day, “Dinner, pajamas, brush teeth, book, prayers, sleep”. It gave her a measure of control if she knew what to expect. Despite my recent efforts, Dimples’ anxiety was driving her emotions, which were becoming increasingly volatile and challenging. Between Dimples and Honeybee, I was worn out with intense parenting.
For a year Dimples had been asking for an American Girl doll, which (if you don’t know) is a very expensive but also very nice doll. Sweet Pea and Mimi each had one when they were young, Ladybug got one for her ninth birthday, and Honeybee got one on her tenth. Dimples and Boo were told that they had to be older before they could get their special dolls, but in all honesty, I wanted them to have one so the four girls could enjoy playing together before the older two’s interest began to wane. With much planning, budget-shifting, and a little bit of fretting, I ordered dolls for Dimples and Boo. They had been poring over the catalog for a year and knew exactly which ones they wanted. Dimples wanted Ruthie, because she came with a watch and a purple dress. Boo wanted Josefina because she had long, dark hair and earrings. I was pretty sure that these gifts were going to be the hit of Christmas morning, but I also feared that somehow, some way, Dimples was not going to be happy.
The kids were all up late on Christmas Eve, so we told them that they could not get up until 8:00 – torture, I know. At 7:15 I woke up to their excited voices and I’ll admit, I had a bit of trepidation. I woke Russ and told him that I thought we had better be proactive and get ready for the day before the kids were up. By 8:00 we were in the family room, coffee in the French press, the oven heating for the breakfast casserole, and the stockings lined up on the sofa. I said a few quick prayers as the kids flew down the stairs. Opening stockings went well. Honeybee was delighted with everything and kept thanking us, which was very sweet. Dimples was very vigilant, making sure that the other girls had the same number of gifts and pieces of candy, but all in all, she was calm.
Breakfast was a comedy of errors. On Christmas Eve I realized that I had put the large package of sausages in a friend’s freezer, when we were attempting to make space for a side of beef. Oh well, we could make do without them. On Christmas morning the cinnamon pull-apart looked good, until it began to rise at such an alarming rate that chunks of it were falling to the bottom of the oven necessitating the opening of window and running the vent on high. Then the oven malfunctioned and turned itself off, so although it said it was 350 degrees, it was actually only 250 degrees, leaving the brunch casserole quite soupy. At this point we decided to let the kids all open one small gift.
When we checked the casserole again, it was getting closer, but still not done, so we gathered in the living room to watch “The Little Drummer Boy”. By the end of the show, breakfast was finally ready! While we ate we had our final Advent readings and placed the nativity piece on our Advent wall hanging. Then we quickly cleaned up and began opening gifts. To my great happiness, Honeybee loved her Sleeping Beauty dress and wore it until she went to bed last night. Dimples and Boo were thrilled with their dolls. Ladybug loved her cloak for her doll and a vest for her. The boys loved their snowboarding goggles and clothes. The older girls loved their clothes. Two gifts didn’t arrive in time due to the snow, but it didn’t seem to matter. We were all relaxed and happy.
My day ended with a walk down the driveway, along with Russ and Sweet Pea, to admire the snow and the lights on our porch. Then Sweet Pea and Mimi started knitting hats while I worked on finishing the binding on a quilt that I began for Russ seventeen years ago – I finally gave it to him for Christmas. Just when I think I might never get anything done – I prove myself wrong!
And if you are wondering how the Cornflake Sundaes were for Christmas Eve breakfast…
…they were a hit!
I loved the responses about Christmas traditions! I’ll post them tomorrow.
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