It was warm and sunny. Pandora played “Lo How a Rose” and “For Unto Us a Child is Born”, like it read my mind. The night before we watched The Snowman. We wrote letters to Santa. We assembled a Gingerbread house. We prayed that God would bless our Christmas.
I rocked Becket to sleep and sang Silent Night to him, a song I used to hate as a little girl – it was so dull – and, as with olives and pickles and mustard, have grown to love with age. It speaks to my heart of dark fir trees under snow and starlit skies; of walking in bracing clear air and a heart surging with love for the god who became so small for the smallest of us to be able to touch him. Especially rocking my own small one; singing this carol makes me feel closer to that God and the moment of His coming than any other.
Then Jason and I filled the stockings, hid the sweet letters to Santa, ate the cookies, brought down all the packages from the attic, and kissed in the light of the scraggly little tree we have, perched out of B’s reach on the Melissa & Doug train table.
This Christmas was our first just the five of us, at home in our house. We have driven down to grandparents every other year! I was nervous going into it. Being the oldest of 6 kids, I’m used to a certain hustle and bustle and noise level of lots of happy people to make the season bright; I kept telling friends I was afraid my kids would be bored – but I realized that, in actuality, I was afraid I would be.
It was a consoling thing to discover that all I need is my little family, after all. It made me feel like I’ve grown up.
It was quiet, and we were perhaps a little short on traditions. But there was a cozy, humming joy to it.
The boys received their presents with grateful hearts – which is always a pleasant surprise! I know from experience that you can be a sweet, unspoiled child and still have dashed expectations and disappointed dreams on Christmas (I’m a gift giving love languaging person which is definitely not easy to be in a big family! :/).
No gift has ever touched my gift-giver’s heart quite as much as Will’s to me this year. Jason had taken the boys to the mall to get me the Anthro apron I had casually suggested might be fun to get for Christmas, seeing as how I’m always in the kitchen, and the granite countertops keep tearing little holes in my tees. Jason said Will went in there with a plan of his own, however; he informed Jason he was getting me a rolling pin because mine was broken.
He was bursting with pride and satisfaction in his rolling pin purchase. We made a gingerbread house together after dinner on Christmas Eve [it was almost awesome but the roof fell in], and as I struggled with my old rolling pin, he could not resist dropping “hints” that were straight up spoilers like, “Just wait til you see your present tomorrow!”
The other memorable thing he did was wrap up a little rubbery toy lizard that Henry had been fighting him for tooth and nail for the last few days. He wrapped it the day before Christmas all himself, and put it under the tree with Henry’s name on it.
I was making the cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning in the afternoon on Saturday, when Will told me that he felt really happy inside that he was giving Henry his lizard; and that sometimes, we have bad thoughts in our heads, like taking things back later that we are giving someone as presents. But we just have to ignore those bad thoughts – right, Mama? right?
He says that refrain in the exact same way he did as an intense, bright-eyed 2 year old. Right, Mama, right?
He got his reward in the shape of his godfather’s incredibly generous surprise gift…
…which he spent all day on Christmas assembling. [Word to the wise, whenever possible, pick a future priest for a godparent. Not only does your child get to cash in on lots of extra prayers and special blessings, but since their godfathers don’t have their own children, they tend to get extra spoiled on holidays!]
In the pew with my two older sons on Christmas morning, in our little white church, I saw many families with strapping teenage boys – you always see more of them at Christmas, either because they don’t come as regularly during the year, or because, as I suspect, they aren’t as spiffy and noticeable on other Sundays. I wondered how it would feel when I was a ripened mother in the pew with my broad-shouldered young men at my sides. I imagined I would be busting with pride. And probably anxiety. But mostly pride. 😉
In our first Christmas as a little family on our own, it really hit home, this little legacy Jason and I are privileged to be building right now.
We will probably go back to Greenville next year… Jason and I really, really missed the haunting beauty of our old Church, St Mary’s, at Christmas; the glorious full choir in the balcony loft, the hushed reverence, the candles and incense and that excited feeling of waiting for Christ to come that fills that beautiful red and gold Church every Christmas eve.
We are thinking that we will just make a rule for ourselves that we don’t travel on holidays when Kallah has a breastfeeding baby. Since we will (hopefully) have more of those in the next decade, however, it was so nice to experience the good-for-the-soul-ness of a quiet, young family Christmas.
And it wasn’t boring!