Monday, December 21, 2009

Cousin Christmas Cheer

We ventured up north this year to celebrate an early Christmas with Jason's side of the family. (We alternate years to be with one side of the family or another on Christmas Day; this year, it's my parent's turn.) As a bonus, we celebrated Marta's 2nd and Jemma 3rd birthdays, too, since they fall within 9 days of each other during the Christmas season. The girls were together for about five minutes before they were Four Blonde Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.

Jemma wasted no time diving into her cake.

I love the plumpness of her cheek in this picture of her opening gifts. I wonder how much longer her face will have that babyish roundness. Now that she's basically potty-trained herself over a three-day period ("Mom, go out of the bathroom. I need privacy."), now that she starts dance class in January, now that she skips off happily to Big Girl 'Nastics once a week, I truly feel like we have lost our baby. But, oh, the little girl she is turning into . . .

For the first time ever, we tried this weekend to let the three bigger girls sleep together in the bunk room. Jason's parents have a great, big room above their garage that's been outfitted with two sets of bunk beds for years, and the idea has always been that someday the grandkids would be old enough to sleep in there together. Jason has a lot of dreams about gathering people together for large parties and he lobbied hard this year for Trevor and Lisa and their girls to spend the night. Lisa and I agreed tentatively, not wanting to be stingy and pessimistic, but also knowing full well that it could go either way: the girls could giggle for 15 minutes, then settle down adorably into sleepover whispers and fall asleep, or the girls could jump from bed to bed for a couple of hours and refuse to settle down without a lot of threats and tears.

Guess which one happened.

The main problem was . . . Jemma. She just really, really wants to sleep with other people around her, and she also really, really wants to talk to those people. Berit and Annie were into it, too, for a while. We sat downstairs, drinking Founder's porter and eating Jason's dad's excellent homemade pizza while we watched them on the video monitor, flying spread-eagled from bunk to bunk, scampering around and laughing.

Eventually, we went up to try to settle them down. Trevor went up. I went up. Jason's mom went up. I went up again. At one point, I was lying down next to Jemma, trying to calm and quiet her. The girls were completely silent for a minute, and I congratulated myself on magically lulling them into calm. Then Berit sat bolt upright in her bed and said, "Aunt Steph? One time, we went to see FIREWORKS!" And it began all over again.

Interestingly, at this point, Annie genuinely wanted to go to sleep. I was bargaining/threatening with Jemma, and I heard Annie mutter to herself, "Good grief. This is NOT very fun. I THOUGHT this was going to be fun, but this is NOT as fun as I thought it would be."

We ended up transferring Annie to another bedroom so she could fall asleep (which took about 45 seconds), then putting her back in the room with Berit, who was sleepy again, too. We had to drag Jemma's mattress out of the bunk room completely and isolate her in the bedroom Jason and I planned to sleep in later. And still, it took over another hour, with Jason and his mom soothing her, for her to go to sleep.

The grown-ups retired to the basement, then, and had a homebrew beer-tasting and some much-needed adult conversation until Jason was literally falling asleep in his chair around 1:00 a.m. Those four hours alone, I venture to say, would have been worth the entire sleepover drama. But there was more.

The next morning, four little girls squealed with delight at the sight of Christmas presents scattered all around the tree. They ate four little bowls of pink cream of wheat in their jammies, opened a mountain of gifts, went sledding in the backyard, and played happily (and in various states of undress/dress-up) for the rest of the day, subsisting on Mimi's homemade cinnamon rolls, peanut butter fudge, and goldfish crackers.

We pulled in our driveway around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, our car jammed full of snow gear, presents, travel snacks, gifts, and food. We're behind on sleep, laundry, and wrapping, but buoyed, somehow, by the time with family.

I have a lot of cousins - around 20 - but none of them are precisely my age. On my dad's side, they're all much older, with children of their own in college and high school; on my mom's side, they're all younger, just graduating from high school themselves. I didn't grow up with the lucky gift of just-my-age playmates who were right there for every holiday. But I'm sure glad that our girls will.

No comments:

Post a Comment