I will have to watch It's a Wonderful Life tonight, because somehow I missed my 2am appointment with it on Christmas Eve while mending festive stockings, appointing gifts, or cleaning the house so Santa won't fall on his face while navigating last year's toys or the packages our family didn't ship out.
I went to bed at midnight after watching The Nativity Story with my husband. It made me wonder afresh why men are not jealous of the unique ability of women to carry a child. Feeling a baby move inside you is a marvelous thing...until they're bouncing around in your belly as you're trying to fall asleep at the end of a busy day. Still, it really doesn't get old even as the bags swell beneath your eyes.
And boy, do I have bags under my eyes right now! Our children woke up multiple times last night at 2, 3, 4 am wondering if it was time to see their gifts from Santa. They held conferences in the hall, had disagreements, made potty pilgrimages and rattled the baby gate. They did everything but call out, "Santa, are you there yet? Can we come out now?" I'm surprised St. Nick left them anything at all. I'm more surprised that he didn't take pity on their poor, weary parents and chuck a few hefty ones at their heads to make them nod off.
We finally escorted them out at 6:20. There was the usual elation over what was asked for and given, but also the scrambling for the few things that Santa had not granted. For this parent, there was my annual regret of not granting a particular wish for one of the kids. This year it was my eldest girl Ana's desire for a karaoke machine. She got the camera she asked for, but a dress was too small, and she passed over it and a book by her favorite author to dig beneath the tree for the stereo. It never fails, this worry of mine, but I also know that occasional disappointment related to material desires is certainly good for children.
And there was the pile of presents from grandparents, uncles, and aunts to open. Where I will find the room for all the new toys, I honestly don't know. I suppose one must pass on such thoughts Christmas morning. As I carefully wrote lists for my kids of the gifts and the givers, I did sometimes purse my lips at the big, fancy playthings, but there is no doubt that our family's generosity helped to make the kids' Christmas merry. I only regretted we did not get our gifts to extended family shipped.
Oh, there were plenty of regrets this year. I did not bake what I planned, didn't mail our presents, have yet to send cards to people whom we think about always at this time of year, never strummed carols at my guitar. And, yes, I did not write the many holiday tales I wished to tell here, a big regret. But it was a merry Christmas. My husband got me lovely things. He himself got a hammer that doubles as a bottle opener from my folks, a winning and ingenious combination. Our children had a bazillion new things to occupy them all day. And my holiday bird turned out beautifully browned and moist for our big meal. Not too shabby, even if the gravy was thin.
One of my favorite things this Christmas, a transporting thing, was a recordable storybook for my son Danny of The Night Before Christmas, read by my dad. Even my eldest son stood over it a few times and enjoyed turning the pages as his Paca narrated the classic tale. I felt like my child self again as I listened and heard my dad conclude:
Merry Christmas! And, remember: Paca and Grandmama love you all very, very much. Good night.
That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.
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