Over the past 2 weeks, Benjamin has brought home not one, not two, or three, but six presents made at school. All but one of these presents were wrapped as he brought them home, and every time I've asked him "...so, who's this present for?" And each time he's replied, "This one is for Christopher." Six times I've heard that answer. It would have been lovely to hear that at least one of those presents was for either Mike or myself, but hey -- you can't blame a boy for adoring his older sibling.
Speaking of whom, Christopher did buy his presents by himself this year. We all drove to the mall to hit the hair dresser for another $60.00 trim for each of the boys. Then B boy, Mike and I went to the supermarket, while Christopher went Christmas shopping on his own. I confess to frequent calls to his cell phone to check up on him, but, truthfully, I needn't have bothered. He came through with flying colours and was positively glowing with pride and happiness when we met up with his gift-bearing self in front of the toy store. I asked if he wanted a celebratory hot dog, but he wasn't hungry, because he'd bought himself a 'family-sized M&M bag to snack on while shopping'. Clearly, we have a future power shopper on our hands.
The third man in the family did his Christmas shopping in Canada, and only had to wrap his own presents to yours truly. He struggled mightily with the ribbon on said presents, so much so, he actually brought the presents - wrapped - into the living room to do the ribbon while I watched. I almost offered to help, but stopped myself at the last second. I will not stoop to help wrap my own presents. That is a line I do not ever want to cross.
Tomorrow, the clan will gather at our house in the late afternoon, for a really special Christmas with all of my immediate family. It's been years and years since we've been able to celebrate Christmas together, and I am so excited, I can hardly wait.
Everyone will arrive around 5 pm to a lit Christmas tree with stacks and stacks of presents underneath it. The adults will enjoy a glass of Sherry or Champagne, and the children some pop or juice to mark the official start of Christmas.
We will then sit down and enjoy a traditional Scandinavian Christmas roast dinner, followed by a rice cream dessert that we don't actually like. Traditionally, a single whole almond is hidden in the rice cream, and whoever is lucky enough to find it, wins a prize. We, however, will have not 1, but 12 almonds in our dessert. One for each member of the family. And although we all have to eat some of the rice cream (isn't that what tradition is all about?), there's a prize for everyone, whether you find an almond or not.
If you ask Mike, I'm sure he'd say the 12 almonds in the rice cream pretty much sums up my family. We are all about fair. Each year, we count our presents, to make sure all the kids get the same number, and we always have to spend roughly the same amount of money on each kid. Even if the child is 6 months old and really wouldn't know any different. Fair is fair, and that's just how it's always been done in our family.
After dessert, we'll wash up. Any family member under 13 will tell you this takes a very, very long time. We rinse, we wash and we dry. And then we do it again. We put dishes away, we wipe down all surfaces, including countertops and stove top. We sweep the floor. Heck, we may even wash the floor. Oh yes, the kitchen is cleaner after Christmas dinner than it is most days of the year.
And the reason for this feverish cleaning? Why, to make our kids suffer, of course! Because while we're washing up, they're looking more and more desperately at the pile of presents under the tree. Trying ever so discreetly to read the gift tags - is that large one mine? - knowing full well it is strictly forbidden to touch the presents yet. Their hands itchy with a desire to rip the wrapping off the packages. All while trying so hard not to whine, as whining is strictly forbidden on Christmas Eve. Everyone knows that Santa frowns upon whining.
Then...it is time to dance around the Christmas tree. We form a ring, hand in hand, and we walk around the tree, singing carols. This is done with great enthusiasm, if not a whole lot of singing talent. In fact, we may be the most off-key family you'll ever come across. But on Christmas Eve, that is completely and utterly irrelevant. I know I will see my children's eyes shine with joy as they sing their little hearts out.
The dance around the Christmas tree is the highlight of my evening. Though the anticipation is still heavy in the air, the songs are sung with such glorious happiness, it is absolutely infectious, and I will hop, skip and jump hand-in-hand with the people I love more than anyone on Earth. We all become like little children again, and to me, this is what Christmas is all about.
At long last, we will sit down to open our prezzies. The adults will usually find themselves a chair or a couch to sit on, but the kids just plop themselves on the floor and wait with unbridled excitement, as gifts are handed out one by one. We all make sure to oooohh and aaaahh over every present before moving on to the next one. Oh yes, we take gift unwrapping to a whole new slooooow level :)
By 10 pm or so, the presents will all have been handed out, and it will be time to bring out store bought chocolates and fruits, along with goodies made during the month of December, including gingerbread hearts and marzipan confection. We may even go outside and try out new skis or sleds, or stay inside and play a new game.
We usually last until midnight, at which point the kids are worn out from all the excitement, and fall asleep with huge grins on their faces from an evening that hopefully was a dream come true.
That, my friends, is what we will be doing tomorrow. Is it any wonder that I can hardly contain myself?
I know most of you who do celebrate Christmas, will be doing so in the morning of the 25th. So from my family to yours, we wish you a Very Merry Christmas.