Monday, December 29, 2014
Christmas 2014: Unwrapped
The Christmas season is like a beautifully wrapped gift. When presented, it delivers joyful anticipation. "For me? Oh my! Why thank you! Whatever could it be?"
And then the careful process of opening begins....
Formal evening dinner at grandma's welcomes every member of the family. We've grown, from just the five of us, to eight adults as sons-in-law joined us over the years. My favorite moments include the quiet time before arrival when candlelit places are set, crab bisque is ready to be ladled and hands will soon join in grateful prayer for the blessing of togetherness.
Grandchildren, six so far, occupy the nearby "kids' table." But that's not, by any means, the first "cousin event" of the season. That honor goes to "Christmas Movie Night" at Aunt Christy's. And while the feature title responds to currently popular demand, many things remain the same. Aunt Mary Jo's annual gift of matching jammies keep hot-chocolate-sipping and popcorn-munching kids comfy and cute. This year, Brielle's canopied bed was the site of tumbling chaos for parental paparazzi pictures!
I'm delighted that my daughter chose "Elf on the Shelf" pjs. We're all fans of that little tattle tale, and "elf haters" don't bother us one bit. Our kids excitedly exchange escapade details with cousins and classmates and follow every ritualistic rule. Family bonding, creative thinking, early morning anticipation - each one further enriches the best time of the year!
Christmas cookies - we bake 'em, we eat 'em! This is our fourth year of doing that together, and more pint size participants seem to pop up annually. This year there were seven present - the newest (he'll be born on December 26th!) tucked inside mommy's tummy, hiding behind one of three aprons I made for my daughters to wear each year from now on.
A half dozen hand print reindeer blaze across the bottom half. Wisely, I've left room for more! A wreath of buttoned up yo yos graces the bodice. Hand quilted snow swirls fill in the background and everything else is outlined in stitches.
Grandma's very first Christmas 2010 Cookie Baking Party hosted just the boys - age two at the time. This year, along with Brielle at four, the "big kids" are old pros at the sprinkle station and handle those icing bottles with confident ease.
Youngest of the baking bunch, Kaylee, a newbie at the decorating table, declares,
"I have an icing bottle and I know how to use it!"
And even though dainty little Angeline prefers to taste each morsel before proceeding, there are still plenty of intact and yummy cookies for each family to take home and enjoy!
Nick gets it. "We did that last year!" he shouts when dinner is dismissed and we gather for grandma's "enhanced" reading of "The Night Before Christmas." I'm a "tradition-maker" if there ever was one, and so indeed, my sweet little Nick, this is the second year grandchildren cluster at my feet with fuzzy pet finger puppet mice to raise up with shouts of glee whenever grandma randomly inserts the word "mouse" into the tale of that storied "little old driver" who will forever be "so lively and quick!"
I can't help but wonder how many years I might be indulged with willing participation in this ritual. And if some day, many years ahead, these children will rediscover a familiar furry face tucked away among ornaments of old. I hope they will smile warmly at the memory of Christmas eves clustered with cousins alongside the tree, listening for the magic word!
And then it happens.
The speculation is nearly as much fun as the opening....
But not really!.......
Yes, over here grandchildren are indulged. But each of the older ones has been guided by parents wise and compassionate to give time, talent and treasure to those less fortunate. The boys are finally old enough to volunteer at the animal shelter, walking dogs and petting cats. Each child also purchased a toy from savings to donate to another, one whom they will never meet. For that reason, the pride I feel over their own generosity makes these moments so much more special. They've given us all so much. It's their turn to receive.
I'm given presents too. This despite my assertion that grandmothers don't really want "things" from their children, they just want to do things with them! But I get both. And I am very grateful. There's a lovely box of "made-by-mommy-and-me" fudge from Brielle. Wow. Squares and squares of different flavors and toppings - so good - too good, really! I'm glad grandpa has his own. Mine are just for me!
Wine, too! Bottles large and lovely. If you ever hear that this grandma "got run over by a reindeer," you'd be wise to suspect my now fully stocked wine rack as a contributing factor!
And then there's this zany and utterly charming critter! He's crafted of wild bird seed and comes with his own pet mouse and a wire rack for hanging outside. It will be tricky to set it where our well pampered squirrels can't make short order lunch of it, but this "crazy cat lady" is really delighted with her new and fanciful feline!
Speaking of new pets, this one appeared on Christmas morning, left by Santa at Brielle's house. She was quickly named "Elfie," allowing me to add a great-grand-pig to my collection of little ones to love!
"Squeak! I'm as cute as a button!"
Inside my gift of Christmas I found the joy of Jesus in family fun, friendly faces and festive food. I found a fortune in fabulous fudge! I found cousins and cookie crumbs and the blessing of beautiful daughters and handsome and loving sons. I found presents to open and many to give. I found meaningful memories, prayers and peace.......
and just one more thing too!
- this cute little face,
frosted in green and sprinkled in blue!
And this was my Christmas.