Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Imagine It Is Christmas

Showing off the hand-sewn gifts David gave.
We suspended reality for a short 24-hour period. All the kids are home for their respective breaks from school. Later today they are leaving for an extended time away with their dad. So we declared Tuesday, December 18 to be Christmas Eve (along with Sarah's birthday), and today is our Christmas Day.

I wasn't sure how it would work - getting in the right frame of mind, having all the gifts wrapped, really believing it was a true and proper celebration. I worked yesterday morning, and I had a rough time turning off the switch midday to focus on my family and our time together.

Sarah & Mom
But we got there. We celebrated Sarah's birthday with Christmas dinner - ham, scalloped potatoes, rolls, deviled eggs, green beans. Tradition.

And as the evening rolled on, when everyone returned from last minute shopping, I sat at the piano. First song up was the Linus and Lucy dance from A Charlie Brown Christmas...and they all came running.
Sarah & Dad

They danced.

And then we moved on to the carols, singing from an old copy of a Baptist Hymnal snagged from Fellowship Bible Church many years ago. The harmonies rang; we sang with our eyes closed and our ears attuned to one another.

And suddenly it was Christmas Eve, just like that.

We woke up to stockings filled with fun stuff - from head scratchers to chip clips, with candy and books and earbuds and all sorts of other stuff in between.

Daniel's GREAT gift from Shannon...found in
the basement of her CRU house!
And then we exchanged gifts, the way we always do; the youngest delivers gifts one by one to everyone in the room, and then one by one - from youngest to oldest - we open the gifts and do the "oooohhhs" and "ahhhhs". Everybody gives to everybody, and it's always entertaining.

My mom and dad come, and they deliver their gifts, and the kids give to them - my dad always gets some form of candy turtles, and my mom always gets some sort of body wash.

This year's cardboard box
Then Tony gives the word for the big reveal of his amazing-super-wonderful gift. Somehow, he outdoes himself every time. The first year it was a foosball table accompanied by a cardboard box full of cereal boxes (42 of them, if my memory serves...); next, a cardboard box full of 67 individually wrapped gifts from the Dollar Store (including pigs feet. That was a fun one.) Last year there was a new family computer, along with another cardboard box full of various flavors of chips. Like 50 bags of chips.

Catch the theme?

We've come to expect the big cardboard box, and no one - including me - ever knows what we'll find inside.

This year was funny; they quickly determined that it containted vast quantities of Oreos and Ramen noodles (chicken flavored) - and nothing else. And then Sydni pulled out a small, wrapped gift. She opened it to find a Dick's Gift Card, and everybody went nuts looking for more gift cards. Tony shook his head and said he didn't know where it came from...but no one believed him.

It was true. There was one wrapped gift in the box - the Dick's Gift Card - and nothing else. Turns out the card has $42.67 credit on it. And no one knows where it came from.

Makes an interesting, weird gift even more so.

It was a good day. Our family, together, is what matters.

As we planned for this holiday season, I felt good about them leaving and having some extended time with their dad. It's Florida, which will be fun and relaxing. It's a good break for them, a good time for making memories and spending time together.

And yet...if I'm honest, I'll tell you that I don't feel so good about it now. I'm going to miss them. The real Christmas Eve will come along at church and we'll wake up on Christmas Day and I'll feel the absence of their presence in my gut.

But all things together, I'm blessed. Especially this year, I'm aware of this: they come, they go, they travel, but they're always here, somewhere, just a day away from a hug. We make memories with the time we have, whatever amount of imagination it takes to set the scene. And it is well, and it is good.

And it is Christmas.

Merry Christmas, y'all. Have some Ramen. And some Oreos.


Brandee Shafer said...

Big love to all of you. I dreamed about the girls the other night, but I can't quite tell you what the dream was, at this point. I just know that I was proud to be among them.

annie said...

I'm catching up on my reading now, Beth, after it is all over, and knowing y'all made it through. What a wonderful celebration it was!