Now we sit amongst all the new treasures strewn across the living room floor. The calm after the storm of the past few days. It was a good storm. Gale force winds blew our family and friends together for the annual Christmas Eve party. The entire room was filled with excitement and anticipation and good cheer. And each year this party feels different. Each year the girls are older and people we only see a handful of times throughout the year comment on how they've grown.
Their eyes twinkled like the tree lights when the eye of the storm, a jolly, old man in a red suit came in ringing his sleigh bells and bellowing out HO HO HO. Callie and Lexi love this guy... from a safe distance. And these photos look the same as they did last year.
I know this about my girls. They can be shy and timid at times. They need encouragement to try new things. But this too is changing. Callie doesn't take quite as long to warm up to ideas as she once did and Lexi is brave when I am close by her side. And both girls stretched out a confident arm to receive their gift from St. Nick.
After Santa boarded his sleigh, Callie beamed as she told everyone that Santa had said he received the letter she wrote.
Callie was a full participant in the present game this year, rolling the dice and stealing gifts from others and Lexi was close beside, watching and soaking up the love and the tradition of Christmas crackers with paper hats and the joy of running and playing with cousins.
When I got into bed Christmas Eve, after the stockings were hung, the reindeer food was sprinkled on the step, and the signature cookies and milk were ready and waiting, I breathed a sigh of exhaustion. The good kind of exhaustion. Because in just a few hours I would find out if the effort that goes into every detail that makes Christmas was worth it.
Need I say...its always worth it!
Because watching the girls shyly check under the tree, wide eyes looking closely, and smiles forming at the corners of their mouths...will always be worth it.
Finding that balance of Christmas morning joy without going overboard with excess can be a challenge. But Santa seems to have found it by giving each of the girls one thing from their list, like a Buzz Lightyear scooter and a Playmobil doll house. And then he left something not so expected, that they both would love... an art easel.
With the many gifts and stockings full of exciting things and the time spent with family and friends, we have so much to be grateful for. And I think we all worry a little about the abundance of stuff and the values we are instilling in our children. But for this one day I am going to trust my parenting instincts. I am going to trust that we are raising thankful and grateful children. I am going to enjoy watching the pleasure they get from having so many new things all at once. Because it is for one day. And one day out of a year can not possibly make a greedy, ungrateful child. For tomorrow we will be back to using the reoccurring phrases...
"...not today, sweetheart. Maybe for your birthday. We have lots of nice things at home..."
So before I click publish post, I am going to ask Callie what she likes best about Christmastime. She is currently zooming around the living room on her Buzz Lightyear scooter.
Me - "Callie, what do you like most about Christmastime?"
Callie - "I like Santa and Rudolph. And I like every one's Christmas trees. And I like mommy because she's so thankful."
(And so you know, that was completely unprompted. I wonder if she can feel my vibe.)
I guess she knows me as well as I know her. The perfect rainbow after the storm.
Merry Christmas from our family to yours.