Well, I imagine that I should get Christmas wrapped up here at Jedi Mama, Inc. before the end of the year. Once January hits, no one is going to want to see pictures of kids standing in front of a festively-decorated tree and opening packages, because they’ll be entirely too busy concentrating on shopping for kale and carrots and bottled water and salmon fillets at the grocery store, right before they drive themselves to spin class.
Christmas 2016 was a quiet one this year.
Hubs and I have always hosted Christmas Eve dinner at our house, for my side of the family. I always make a pot of soup, the cousins all beg to open gifts, we tell them NO, NO, NO, and then they make reindeer food, right before we go to the candlelight Christmas Eve service at church. This year, Sister and her family were drafted to be greeters at our church, for both of the services, which meant that they wouldn’t be coming over for dinner.
So, we threw caution to the wind, thawed some Fillet Mignon steaks from our freezer to grill, and had A COW for Christmas Eve dinner, with just my parents, instead of our annual pot of soup. Hubs, the boy and Pa all clapped their hands like lunatics, because they only pretend to like vegetable soup, when what they’ve really wanted for their holiday dinner all these years is a slab of tender beef, accompanied by baked potatoes and lemon-spritzed asparagus.
Somehow, our boys still got to open their annual ONE gift before the candlelight service. Their parents got them Nerf guns, which resulted in an all-out, un-holiday-like battle-to-the-bitter-death gunfight, right before we left to hear the story of our Savior coming to earth as a baby.
There’s no time like Christmas Eve to head over to the church and hear the story of salvation, right after you’ve shot your brother in the back nineteen times with Nerf darts from your semi-automatic weapon.
Of course, I caught up with the cousins, and snapped some pictures with my iPhone.
During the service, the little kids were asked to come up to the stage to hear one of our beloved elders, Gary, read the story of Mary giving birth to Jesus in the stable, right before he was placed in a manger. Hubs and I had some reservations about sending Thing 2 to the stage, because Thing 2 tends to use his opportunity in front of a crowd of people to state opinions and dance. Against our better judgement, we let him follow the other kids to the steps, where he managed to position himself next to Little Cousin H, who was next to Gary.
This meant that Thing 2 was very, VERY close to Gary’s microphone.
As Gary read the story out loud to the children, he read about the animals singing at the birth of Jesus. He then turned from the book and said, “Isn’t that nice that the animals sang when Baby Jesus was born?”
Polite society dictates that the children would mumble YES! YES, THAT WAS NICE, and then go back to sitting very quietly, with their hands in their laps. Thing 2, however, has never been a member of polite society. He turned toward Gary and announced, right over the microphone that picked up his booming voice, “The animals didn’t sing, Mr. Gary! Animals don’t sing! That’s ridiculous!”
That was the comment that drove me from the back of the church straight to the front row, where I positioned myself directly in front of our outspoken preschooler. I caught his eye, shook my head, gave him my MEAN MOTHER LOOK, and basically threatened him, without words, that Christmas would be ENDED if he chose to speak out again during the story.
A little later, Gary read about a donkey in the stable, and said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a donkey? I’d sure love to have a donkey of my own!”
Without missing a beat, Thing 2 announced, over that nearby microphone, to the entire congregation, “Well, I would never want a donkey, Mr. Gary! They stink! They smell awful!”
And that, y’all, was the precise moment that I lunged forward, snagged my four-year-old by the arm, and pulled him straight off the stage, in front of a laughing crowd of people, who were there to celebrate the birth of Jesus here on earth.
May this child of ours never run for public office and have a microphone in front of him and his bold opinions.
Later in the service… and again, against my better judgement… we let Thing 2 hold a candle.
Thanks to Mam and her quick thinking, she managed to save his curly bangs from the flame, so that we avoided having our hair on fire by three millimeters.
The fire department was never called to the church, so we considered the candlelight service to be a total victory.
Afterward, Hubs and I drove around town with our two boys to look at all the Christmas lights. Thing 2 ooh-ed and ahh-ed and fully appreciated every single light he saw.
By that time, it was 8:00 and past Thing 2’s normal bedtime. He kept asking if Christmas would be NEXT WEEK. In a sinful moment, Hubs and I both announced, “Yes! Christmas is going to be NEXT WEEK!” Because? People, had Thing 2 realized that Christmas was going to be WHEN HE WOKE UP, he would have gotten up at midnight and never gone back to sleep.
The boy saved us from needing to march into confession by saying, “Mom, technically, Christmas IS next week. Today is Saturday. Christmas is on Sunday. Sunday is the first day of the week. So CHRISTMAS IS NEXT WEEK!”
I have never loved that boy more than I did on Christmas Eve, when he saved me from the sin of lying to my four-year-old, so that we could all get a good night’s sleep.
And THAT is why Thing 2 slept in until 6:15 on Christmas morning!!
When he woke up, he assumed it was just another day, until Hubs and I encouraged him to run into the living room and see if Santa Claus had stopped by.
Honestly, for as long as I live, I will never forget the shrieks of utter delight that erupted form the living room, while Hubs and I were still trying to wake up in bed, when Thing 2 discovered that Santa had left him the train he had asked for! Hubs and I laid in bed and grinned like love-filled parents. Thing 2 whooped and hollered; he shouted his thank-you’s to the world, and then raced back to us to yell, “Come quick! I got a train! I got a real train!!!”
He loved that Polar Express train so much, he even took the time to lean down and give it a great big hug!
The biggest difference in having little kids and teenagers on Christmas morning is that teenagers don’t necessarily need to get up at the crack of ugly.
By 7:15, Thing 2 was itching to find out what was in his wrapped packages, so we sent him to wake the boy up.
We had to WAKE THE BOY UP at 7:15 on Christmas morning!
He came out joyfully, expressing words of love and kindness to everyone.
Except… yeah. It was the exact opposite of that. The boy was a touch grouchy at being woken up so early, until Hubs and I reminded him of all the years he woke US up at 4:30 on Christmas morning!
The boy gave Thing 2 his very own roll of aluminum foil for Christmas. Thing 2 has a bit of an obsession with tin foil, as he loves to wrap all kinds of stuff up in it. I was so tired of him stealing MY aluminum foil by the gigantic sheets, that I suggested to the boy that he might want to buy him his own tube for Christmas.
That little kid was DELIGHTED with his simple gift.
Later on Christmas morning, we met up with Sister’s family at Mam and Pa’s house.
The Littles were a bit disgruntled that everyone wanted to EAT BREAKFAST before they attacked the presents, so we gave them the iPhone to watch Frosty the Snowman on, while they waited for breakfast to finish up.
And then, the presents commenced.
While we were at Mam and Pa’s on Christmas morning, the Great Blizzard hit.
It was the blizzard that made everything Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about look plum MILD. The snow was blowing sideways. The interstates got themselves closed. The wind was whipping stuff around wildly and causing white-out conditions of zero visibility.
Hubs and I were supposed to show up in Small Mountain Town, twenty miles away, for Christmas with his parents’ and all the other cousins, at 2:00 on Christmas afternoon.
We watched the weather out the windows.
We checked the weather online two hundred and nine times.
We looked at road closures online ninety-one times.
And then Hubs announced that he was starting to get a good headache, and he didn’t feel like digging us out, if we ran off the road. And then I remembered how my biggest fear in this world is driving in white-out conditions.
… we completely and utterly ruined Christmas for our boys…
… and we drove the three miles across town, from Mam and Pa’s house, to our house. We didn’t go to Grammy and Papa’s house, even though Hubs’ brave brothers DID. We received text messages from them that said the words WHITE-OUT, GIANT DRIFTS, BRING THE SUBURBAN IF YOU COME, and I CAN’T REALLY SEE THE ROAD.
So… like a family of cluck-cluck-chickens, we stayed put. We turned on our fireplace. We watched The Polar Express with our very grouchy boys, who thought SURELY we could have made it to Grammy’s house in the Great Blizzard. We had hot cocoa.
And that is how we came to miss the annual Christmas picture of all the cousins on the sofa, which Aunt Pink managed to pop off this year, minus the boy and Thing 2.
Thankfully, our boys got over their grouchiness about missing Christmas with Grammy and Papa and six cousins, and we all had a very quiet, VERY WONDERFUL, time at home. We have never, ever been in our own house on Christmas, during the daytime.
The next morning, Hubs and Thing 2 dug out our driveway.
And then we drove, on snow-packed, slippery roads… but with GREAT visibility… out to Small Mountain Town, for a lunch with Grammy and Papa and Aunt Pink of warmed-up, Christmas leftovers.
We still had a lot of fun. Dinner was still wonderful and delicious. But we really did miss the chaos of eight cousins together in one house, ripping paper off of gifts together and checking out one another’s presents.
Brother and his wife and kids had left the Grave Digger monster truck at Grammy’s house, for Thing 2 to open.
It was one of the highlights of his ENTIRE LIFE!
The boy was pleased as punch, because Grammy and Papa took out a second mortgage on their home and bought him a Vineyard Vines golf polo as a gift. That kid of ours has been itching to have a Vineyard Vines shirt, until his mama realized that you can buy one of them… or finance three years as an undergraduate at Harvard. Ralph Lauren shirts are DIRT CHEAP, when you compare them to Vineyard Vines! Grammy and I both told the boy, “Enjoy this shirt and treat it well; it’s probably the only one you’ll ever own in your life!”
The funniest moment of the day came when Aunt Pink handed a wrapped HOCKEY STICK to Thing 2 to open.
I asked him, “What do you think it is?”
He looked at me and yelled, “I HOPE IT’S A TOY TRACTOR!!”
Because… um… clearly a wrapped hockey stick COULD BE a toy John Deere.
Sadly, it wasn’t one. It was just a Bauer hockey stick.
By the end of Christmas, our living room looked like this:
And THAT, y’all, was our very quiet Christmas of 2016. We’ve spent time this week with family and friends. We’ve gone ice skating a couple more times. We’ve had dinners out with people we love and adore. We’ve unpacked our Christmas presents and put them away. The boy and I took our tree down and put the giant Rubbermaid tubs filled with our family’s Christmas decorations back in the storage room in our basement. We’ve changed sheets on all the beds, scrubbed bathrooms, done laundry, gotten groceries, and now we look forward to ushering 2017 in.
Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy New Year!