Christmas Eve

There ain’t nothing that shuts Christmas vacation down quite like a puking eleven-year-old.

Oh, yes!  The boy!  He is sick with SOMETHING.  Something that causes him to throw up and run a low-grade fever and do nothing more than lay like a lump of cold broccoli on the sofa while he watches Star Wars DVDs and moans, “Mom, can I have a glass of water?”  We’re calling it the Stomach Bug ’11, and we hope it goes away soon, because we shut down a sleepover for tonight and a dodgeball game this afternoon.

Because really?  It’s difficult to throw balls at teenage boys with wispy mustaches while you’re throwing up the orange juice your mama made you drink.  The janitor at the local rec center tends to frown upon this, because he doesn’t get paid enough to bring out the mop bucket for chucked-up orange juice on the gym floor.

So that’s how I’ve spent my day around here.  The house is all clean and tidied up, and Christmas has been put away, as I shoved the last of the holiday Rubbermaid tubs into the basement storage shelves, so there wasn’t much to do today.  I read a book.  And I wrote a letter.  An old-fashioned letter, with words on paper and everything!  And I checked the boy’s fever periodically.  And I took the cats’ Christmas catnip cigar away from them, because SWEET HEAVENLY MERCY!  The cats and the catnip are a bad combination, and I was tired of all the flipping around on the floor as they meowed out, “We’re strung out on the ‘nip, and we have the munchies!”

No more Christmas catnip.  Ever.  It takes our cats to a place of ugliness.

Anyway.

I thought I’d share our Christmas Eve with y’all tonight.

On Christmas Eve, I always make a pot of soup, and my family comes over in the afternoon to devour it with us.  And yes.  It’s homemade soup, with real vegetables that I diced myself.  This year, we had chicken stew, and it was a bowl of piping hot perfection.

And guess who came to our house for her very first Christmas Eve?  Sister’s new baby, Little H.

You can sort of see her dimple in t his next snapshot.  That little girl has an ENORMOUS dimple that will plum CAVE IN her entire left cheek.  It’s the cutest thing ever.

Little H was awake ALL STINKING AFTERNOON!  She’s four weeks old, and she decided that being an entire month in age is plenty old enough to stay awake and party all afternoon.  She looked around and grunted and mumbled for three entire hours, happy as a little clam in her sassy zebra-print outfit.

Of course, everyone fought over took turns holding Little H.

Mam held her.

And Pa held her.

And Hubs held her, too.  Of course, Hubs held her at the end of all the partying, when Little H collapsed from all the fun she’d been having.

Before Little H fell asleep, Sister and Sister’s Husband asked me to take some first-ever snapshots of them as a FAMILY OF FIVE.  I took nine hundred and seven pictures, because a whole lot of them turned out like the first one, where Sister’s Husband looked at the floor and Cousin K seemed to announce, “Watch while I pop out my wooden eye!”

Some nine hundred photos LATER, we ended up with something where everyone looked at the camera.  They do LOOK LIKE a normal family, don’t they?!

After all the picture taking, the older kids made reindeer food, because THAT, people, is our family’s tradition.  You have to whip up a big bowl of reindeer food to lure Rudolph and Dancer and Prancer to your house on Christmas Eve.  We’ve discovered that oatmeal and powdered sugar bring the reindeer in like magic.

Of course, while they were making snacks for the flying Christmas deer, I did get in the kids’ faces and take pictures, because THAT is what I DO!

For the record, this is the cheesiest, fakest grin I’ve ever seen the boy deliver.

Cousin L smiled sweetly, though, because that is what eight-year-old girls do.  They love the camera!

And even Cousin K grinned nicely for me.  (By the way, his lip is healing up nicely.  A few weeks ago, the kid was running like a cheetah, and barreled around the end of his dad’s truck.  Sadly, the tailgate of the truck was down, and K plowed it like a torpedo.  He ended up in the emergency room, and his upper lip was SPLIT PLUM IN HALF, PEOPLE!  In!  Half!  Thankfully, a doctor who knows how to patch kids up nicely took care of him, and things are looking good.)

After all the mixing and stirring, you have to sprinkle the reindeer food outside, so that Santa’s team is sure to smell it.  This insures that he’ll visit your house first, because the reindeer!  They are lured in by all the sweet powdered sugar.

Unfortunately, all the pepper that K sprinkled into the mixture this year makes reindeer sneeze.

Every year, when the bowl of reindeer food is plum empty, the kids come back inside to discover one Christmas present for each of them sitting on our living room coffee table.  Sadly, they are onto this tradition, so the spreading of the reindeer food now involves racing outside to the cul de sac, pretty much turning the bowl upside down to dump it all out in one quick maneuver, and then running as fast as they can back indoors to GET TO THE PRESENTS!

The boy got a pair of night vision goggles, which will SIMPLIFY all the hunting of the Sasquatch that he hopes to do.  He was tickled pink, because Big Foot seems to be rather nocturnal, and it IS difficult to see him traipsing through the woods in the dark.  With these goggles, the boy can hunker down in the weeds and keep watch for the hairy beast.

Cousin L received a voice-activated, special-password diary which her little brother cannot hack into!  She was thrilled to pieces to know that her written secrets will be protected like the gold in Ft. Knox from K.

Never mind that he’s only in kindergarten and can’t read all of her secrets.  Having a voice-activated, secret-password diary is THE BOMB!

And Sister’s Husband had to read through miles of instructions to see how to get it set up to take voice commands.

And then!  Well, Little H was partied out, and she fell asleep.

Don’t you just want to lean over and smack a kiss right onto those sweet little lips?  Or is it just me who wants to do that?!

After all the wrapping paper was thrown away and the boy had been outside THREE DIFFERENT TIMES to examine the perimeter of the house in the dark with his new goggles, we loaded everyone up, and we went to our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at church.

People, that is my MOST FAVORITE thing to do all year!  I big-puffy-heart LOVE the candlelight service, when our church holds our candles high in the darkened sanctuary and sings Christmas carols, while our pastor delivers a Christmas message.  My Christmas Eve would be all wrong without this special event.

After the service finished, we stood around at church and talked and talked and talked with everyone we knew.  We laughed with our friends, and we hugged everyone, and we ate Christmas cookies that the women’s ministries team had in the church foyer for everyone.

And then we came home, where the boy emphatically declared, “We are all going to bed RIGHT THIS SECOND, so that Christmas can hurry up and come!”

Excited much?

As Pastor John quoted from Charles Dickens on Saturday night, while we were holding our candles and marveling in the perfectness of the service, “It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when it’s Mighty Founder was a child Himself.”

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