This year, I treated Christmas like a "Do Over" from last year. Last year I was miserable. This year I was as close to fine as I've been for fifteen months. The setting was back in Michigan, and my sister's family was incoming. The weather was perfect--it had snowed, but was not snowing, cold but not icy.
For some reason, I had boundless energy when I got home home...so, I helped out a bit with last-minute chores and goaded my parents to stay on task. When you have 3 1/2- and 1 1/2-year-old children running about, the house needs to be ready. I helped clean and set out a few decorations, and made space for the tree to come in. By the time the family arrived, things were sufficiently Christmasy, with room for the kids to play.
Both kids like our homestead, and there were lots of things to explore: old toys, Christmas decorations, the stairs, and books by the bushel. And then, of course, the presents were arranged, and the house was exactly as it was when my sister and I were little, with new toys and paper strewn everywhere. My niece was old enough this year to help pass out packages, and she profited even more from the fact that my nephew is not, thus she got to open his packages, too.
Beyond the chaos, there was nothing but love. My niece is my sweet little barnacle, following me about while I put up the tree lights, climbing into my lap whenever I had a sit-down, even having a rest with me in my own room. We had "picnics" on the floor while she chattered away to me, making my dad chuckle in the other room. My nephew is a smile champion, and he's walking now, so we were all chasing him around. He thought it was hilarious when I played with his feet at the dinner table, and he enjoyed looking out the window with me at the "car" (my dad's aerial lift--anything with wheels is a "car.")
Some of my favorite moments with the family:
- Playing with the kids upstairs, wrestling, tickling, climbing on the beds, and shaking our hands and feet in the air.
- Watching my niece and her grandma making cookies.
- Having my nephew charge at me with his arms up and a big grin, to be picked up and cuddled.
- Reading Peter Rabbit to my niece before we both passed out in my childhood bed.
- My nephew's rapturous shout of "CAR!" when he saw the car I bought him (whereupon he immediately started bawling because we were taking too long to get it out of the box).
- Making my sister laugh so hard she cried.
- Having a firearms lesson with my dad.
- Watching my brother-in-law and niece sledding in our yard.
- Teaching my niece the difference between translucent and opaque, using Christmas lights (both of those words, from the mouth of a 3-year-old, are adorable).
- The first time my mom's "Got a hug for Grandma?" to her grandson was followed not by running away giggling but by arms shooting up to be hugged (albeit not at the best time, when she was trying to shoo him away from the stove).
- My nephew holding his hand out to me at the dinner table to be kissed.
Truly, it was a glorious holiday. We all made it back safe and sound, and...well...God bless us, every one.