I said before that this year was the first since I was a kid that I was enthusiastic about the holiday season. With my two beautiful children, and happy new marriage and a roof over our head, I feel the most grateful I’ve ever felt. I have been baking cookies, singing carols, dancing around the house, decorating and buying the perfect presents for each member of my little clan. It’s been wonderful.
I had this beautiful idea of what Christmas would be this year. Putting the kids to bed on Christmas Eve after our traditional viewing of The Grinch, with a sweet yuletide story of some sort and maybe even ringing some bells outside to make them think Santa was on his way. I had the Norad Santa Tracker loaded on the computer, ready to see where he was in the world. We had planned to go to Hollywood Studios to see the Christmas lights, and we were gonna leave out cookies and milk. Even carrots for the reindeer!
Then Mark and I would get the presents set out, have a nice glass of wine and go to bed, stress free and excited. After a good night of sleep, we’d wake the kids early and wait for Dexter’s reaction to the present he has been asking for for a YEAR – a trainset. I expected a huge reaction. We’d open presents while listening to Christmas carols, and everything would be perfect. I’d cook french toast and we’d let the kids play with their new haul while Mark and I drank our coffee and looked on.
Later we were going to go to Cracker Barrel for dinner and then I was going to take Dexter to the cinema.
That was the plan. Of course, things never go quite the way you expect.
On Christmas eve, we made it to Hollywood Studios, where a series of annoyances set me off so that immediately after we parked and got the kids out and ready to go, I got angry and started back into the car. Luckily, Dexter’s sweet face and simple request to go see Santa melted my heart and calmed me down enough to go back in. We saw the Osborne Family Spectacle of Danielcing Lights and it was awesome!
On the way home, though, Dexter fell fast asleep in the car, which meant no Grinch. No bedtime story. No cookies and milk. But hey, I can’t complain. He had had a long and exciting day.
Daniel was put to bed pretty easily, as well, and I was able to get all the presents (including the train set!) set up perfectly. It took me ages, as there are 80 pieces to the thing! But it was beautiful.
Then we were too tired to have a drink so we just headed off to bed.
Sometime in the night, Dexter began to cry and come downstairs, and Mark went to intercept him. We couldn’t have him seeing the presents before it was time! But as it was dark, Mark banged into the train table, knocking over many of the pieces. Nevermind, I thought. I will just sneak out early and fix it up.
Into bed Dexter came, and all was well. But at just past 6, he woke again, begging for a drink. As I had both kids in my arms, I was unable to reach for the bottle of water by my bed, and so the kid scooted himself across the bed and out the door before I could stop him. I screeched for Mark to go get him. I didn’t want him seeing everything. Mark ran after him, but that’s when all hell broke loose. He’d woken up on the wrong side of the bed, and he started throwing a massive tantrum.
Bringing him back into bed, I tried to calm him down and get him excited, but he refused to play ball. Screeching, screaming and angry as can be, nothing would make him happy.
Finally, I left him with daddy so I could go fix the train set. When I came back to get him, he was so angry he was spitting nails. I could tell he was still tired, so I cuddled him a little on the bed until he was soothed, and then I slowly tickled him and played with him until he was awake enough to be happy.
After that, it was smooth sailing. Except that his excitement and gratitude about the trainset never really emerged. He was happy enough, and god forbid Daniel get anywhere NEAR it, but really he was kind of nonplussed. But nevertheless, we had a ball opening presents and enjoying the spoils of the day.
In the end, we had a day which was as full of frustration as it was joy. From Dex refusing to eat his French Toast breakfast to Cracker Barrel being closed for dinner to Daniel not being QUITE ready for his first cinema outing, it was a rough experience. But it was perfect.
I wouldn’t change a thing.