Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Little Christmas

And then suddenly, it's here.

It's Christmas night, and the girls were so beyond tired from the excitement of the last two days that they went to bed at 5:58 (Jemma) and 6:35 (Annie), respectively, leaving Jason and I to eat a late, lazy dinner. Just now, I have some gratin potatoes in the oven and he's cooking a little steak au poive for the second time this month. I'm drinking a glass of red wine in front of the fire and watching the year spin by, too, as we load this year's home videos onto the computer. I see the girls frolic at the beach, take a water-taxi in Chicago, celebrate their birthdays, dance, color, run, read, sing, and play, and it amazes me how quickly this year has gone.

Driving home from Holland last night, we asked the girls to tell us what their favorite memory has been of this holiday season, post-Thanksgiving. Jemma chose going to Meijer Gardens to see all the trees, trains, and Santa (which will henceforth be known as The Place She First Pottied On The Potty); Annie chose going to the 'Twas ballet. Then they got into an argument about how Santa's reindeer fly, which Jemma won by vehemently proclaiming, "They eat fecial hay!" We got home, set out cookies and milk, and read The Night Before Christmas all together in Jemma's bed, a tradition.

Annie was a little jumping bean when she woke us up this morning. It was one of those moments you want to bottle up and keep for later, when your children are older and the magic of Christmas has worn off. We woke Jemma, who was still sound asleep, when Annie couldn't stand to wait a second longer, then opened stockings, opened presents, and ate cinnamon rolls and oranges.

Santa brought Jemma a Bitty Baby this year (or, as Jemma calls her, "another Molly"), and Annie the Bitty Baby pack with all the gear and clothes for her Molly. We bought the girls the most ridiculous babies that crawl and jabber whenever they sense movement. Annie and Jemma have been lusting after them every time we pass them in the Target aisle for months, and they are beyond thrilled to have them. (They WILL drive me crazy, but at least they have an Off switch.)

They got lots of other things, too: glitter glue and crayons and markers; bathing suits and boots and dress-up clothes; jewelry boxes and doll cribs and a camera; puzzles and princesses and pajamas. At one point, Annie looked around, smiled, and said, "I don't know what to play with first!" I try to strike a balance between getting them every single thing they ever thought they might want, and not getting them enough because I feel like they have so much already. I think this year it was just right.

We spent the rest of the day at my parent's for a late brunch with Brett and Meagan and my three living grandparents. We read the Christmas Story, opened more gifts, ate. Annie colored a picture for my 95-year-old grandma, Anne, and marveled at that fact that they share a name. They delighted each other. My grandpa talked about the time that his dad skated from his house into downtown Holland on a day just like today, when it had rained and then frozen into shiny sheets on the streets. Jemma played Connect Four with Brett. It was so good to have four generations together.

As my Christmas gift to Jason, I secretly re-did the spare room upstairs that he's been using as an office/junk room for the last few years. Meg and her mini-van brought over the antique table I bought for a desk from East Fulton Antiques, Sarah helped me haul a filing cabinet up the stairs, my parents bought a slipper chair at Target when the GR store was out of stock, and Connie came over on Wednesday to help me finalize it all. I hung pictures on the wall, I filed piles of papers, I even assembled furniture with a little wrench while Jemma brought me the washers and bolts. It's a real office now, with space to work and, yes, rock out (the keyboard/electric guitar/speaker system did not, unfortunately, get booted out), and it's just in time, because he officially purchases the practice a week from today.

And my favorite moments? There are two. First, I loved that first night after Thanksgiving, when we had a freshly-cut, newly-decorated tree lit in our living room and the girls settled in their pj's with hot cocoa to watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the first time. It was all about the anticipation of a whole month of Christmas fun ahead. Second, I loved their big eyes and looks of glee this morning when they saw that Santa really did come, and what he brought them, and that it was Christmas morning. It was all about the wonder, the joy, the magic.

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